Harassment & Assault Policy

Providence University College and Theological Seminary endeavours at all times to provide an environment that supports fair treatment of all members of its community and is conducive to relationships based on Biblical teaching, mutual respect, cooperation and understanding. Providence University College and Theological Seminary does not condone behaviour that undermines the dignity, self-esteem, or productivity of any student, staff member, or faculty member.

All members of the Providence University College and Theological Seminary community have a responsibility to ensure that human rights of such members are not violated. Such violation shall include the generally psychological violence of harassment and the more physical violence of assault. Any occurrence considered by the administration to be a violation of this policy, involving community members, may properly be considered under this policy, whether or not it occurs on or off campus or during or beyond school hours. This policy is built on Biblical conviction (Matt. 5:21–22; 12:34–37; 15:18–20; I Cor. 5:9–11 James 2:2–10; Eph. 4:29; 5:4; Col. 3:8; I Pet. 1:22; Rom. 12:18; 14:19). This policy also includes and adopts Manitoba Human Rights Code and the Canada Labour Code. However, Providence University College and Theological Seminary is more than a secular institution; it is also a community of believers under the rule of God. Therefore, this policy is intended to foster a spirit of fellowship and community, free from fear, suspicion, and defensiveness.

A. Harassment

Harassment is any behaviour that degrades, demeans, humiliates, or embarrasses a person, and that a reasonable person should have known would be unwelcome. It includes actions (e.g. touching, pushing), comments (e.g. jokes, name-calling) or displays (e.g. posters, cartoons). Harassment can also take place electronically (e.g. text messages, email or screen savers). The Code refers to harassment as a course of abusive and; unwelcome conduct or comment made on the basis of any protected characteristic. You have a right to live and work without being harassed, and if you are harassed, you can do something about it. Harassment could be…

  • Verbal behavior
  • Gestures and other non-verbal behavior
  • Visual forms of harassment
  • Physical behavior
  • Psychological harassment
  • Electronic harassment

Protected characteristics or grounds under The Code are ancestry (including colour and perceived race); nationality or national origin; religion or creed; ethnic background or origin; age; sex (including gender-determined characteristics such as pregnancy); gender identity; sexual orientation; marital or family status; source of income; political belief; physical or mental disability; and social disadvantage. Harassment can take place in the workplace itself, or outside of the workplace in a situation that is in some way connected to work (for example, during delivery trips, off-site meetings, business trips). Harassment will not be tolerated in any work-related place or event. Harassment can also take place within public services such as schools, restaurants or stores or in the area of housing like renting an apartment or living in a condominium.

In Manitoba the alleged harasser is not liable unless he/she is the owner or in charge of an organization, like a board member. Although bullying usually is behaviour associated with children, it can also involve adults. In either case, if the bullying makes reference to religion, sex, disability, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or any of the grounds listed in The Human Rights Code, it is a form of harassment under The Code. Bullying is behaviour that is threatening or intimidating. It can be verbal or physical, and is generally one-sided. Individuals or groups may be responsible for it. It can take different forms, such as:

  • Physical attacks and other forms of violence, such as hitting or kicking;
  • Verbal taunting or threats, name-calling and put-downs;
  • Refusing to speak to you, or excluding you from your group of friends, perhaps by spreading a nasty rumour;
  • Sending embarrassing, hurtful and threatening messages using technology such as the Internet or cell phones. This is known as cyberbullying (electronic bullying, online bullying, or cyber harassment).

Consensual banter where the people involved consent to what is happening is not harassment. Appropriate performance reviews, counselling, or discipline by a supervisor or manager are not harassment.

Note: Issues of Sexual harassment will be dealt with under the Providence Sexual Violence Policy.

The following procedure for complaint is not only intended to address specific complaints brought forward, but also to foster healing and aid in resolution where possible. As a Christian community, Providence University College and Theological Seminary seeks to go beyond the procedures available by the legal system of justice to restoration and reconciliation, as made possible through Christ and biblical teaching. While Providence University College and Theological Seminary promotes, where appropriate, a biblical resolution of problems associated with harassment, it considers all such behaviour to be a serious offence worthy of formal investigation, and subject to a range of disciplinary measures including dismissal or expulsion. The following procedures are provided to all members to facilitate making of complaints and to govern inquiry into all cases where harassment is alleged, either by the victim/ target or by a witness. However, it is recognized that a complainant may not be willing to pursue or feel capable of pursuing the first stage (personal confrontation), in which case she or he shall be entitled to begin the process at the second stage (informal consultation). The process can be terminated at any point prior to the conclusion defied herein, if the complainant withdraws the complaint, and if the supervisor of the process is satisfied that acceptable closure has been achieved.

STAGE 1 — Personal Confrontation

  • (a) Personal Confrontation
    • This policy recognizes that it is desirable for the victim/target to indicate to the offender/initiator that her or his behaviour is unacceptable, unwelcome, uninvited, or offensive. However, this policy also acknowledges that direct personal confrontation may prevent the revealing of actual harassment where different levels exist between the initiator and target.
  • (b) Personal Conciliation
    • Providence University College and Theological Seminary maintains that it is biblically (Matt. 18:15) and personally preferable for persons who feel they are subject or witness to harassment to confront personally and interactively the alleged harasser with his or her behaviour. Ideally, this should occur as soon as the behaviour occurs, but in cases where there is a gradual accumulation of grievances, a separate meeting or exchange of written statements may be necessary. The purpose of such a meeting or exchange is to specify and stop offensive behaviour, and to seek repentance and reconciliation. Regardless of the outcome of such interaction, the complainant retains the right to proceed to the next stage if she or he feels that justice has not yet been served. Because harassment is often perpetrated by superordinates upon subordinates, the complainant may feel that she or he cannot confront the alleged harasser with impunity. Such a complainant may best forego this stage.

STAGE 2 — Informal Consultation

A person who is a student desirous of making a complaint of alleged harassment against either another student or an employee should contact the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Director of Student Development or Seminary Dean. In each case the Harassment Investigation Chair shall be informed immediately. The specific purposes of such informal consultation with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs or Director of Student Development are:

  1. To provide the person with the opportunity to sound out and explore personal feelings with a responsible, impartial confidante,
  2. To review the incident or pattern of behaviour for further clarification by:
    • Identifying the actual words or actions of both the initiator and the complainant that are at issues
    • Clarifying the interpretations, meanings, and perceptions of those words and actions held by the complainant,
  3. To discuss the following options available to the complainant;
    • Confront the accused personally,
    • Ask the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Director of Student Development, or Administrator to confront the accused on behalf of the complainant,
    • Arrange an informal meeting with the accused and with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Director of Student Development, or Seminary Dean acting as either an advocate or mediator,
    • Lodge a formal written complaint,
  4. To clarify the complainant’s rights and responsibilities in choosing any subsequent option,
  5. Beginning with the informal conversation, written documentation should be accurately kept, including dates.

STAGE 3 — Formal Investigation

After the informal consultation, the complainant may lodge a formal complaint with the Harassment Investigation Committee. An Harassment Investigative Committee is appointed by the President, consisting of one member of the administration, one member of the faculty, one member of the staff, and the Harassment Investigation Representative (Chairperson). When this occurs, the Harassment Investigation Representative (in consultation with the President) is responsible to initiate the following sequence of events:

  1. The Harassment Investigation Committee Chair will serve as the liaison for the complainant,
  2. The Harassment Investigation Committee will appoint a member to serve as the liaison for the accused,
  3. A member of the Harassment Investigation Committee will be appointed by the committee to lead the meeting in the event that the Chair is serving as the liaison for the complainant.
  4. A written and signed complaint that includes all of the pertinent details will be obtained from the complainant,
  5. A copy of the written and signed complaint will be given to the person accused of harassment, after which the accused will submit a response,
  6. The Harassment Investigative Committee shall meet and review the written or recorded statements from both parties and then interview each party and any witnesses such committee considers appropriate,
  7. The Chair on behalf of the Harassment Investigative Committee shall communicate their decision, and any recommended discipline of the harasser and remedies for the complainant, to the President.

Disciplinary Actions

If the occurrence of harassment is established, pursuant to the formal investigation, disciplinary action consistent with the severity of the offence shall be implemented by the President. Disciplinary action may include reprimand (verbal warning with written documentation lodged in the person’s university college/seminary file), monitoring for behavioral change, suspension, expulsion, or dismissal. The President may also provide information to the appropriate legal authorities responsible for the administration of justice in the Province.

Confidentiality

It is in the best interests of the affected parties that the strictest confidentiality possible be maintained throughout the process. However, when the health or safety of individuals is involved, it may be necessary to inform the appropriate legal authorities. Procedures must be carried out as expeditiously as possible to facilitate confidentiality.

Intimidation and Interference

Any threats, other forms of intimidation, or retaliation by the accused against the complainant or any other party involved in implementing this policy constitutes harassment in itself. Any interference by the accused with the conduct of an investigation will itself result in disciplinary action by Providence University College and Theological Seminary. Any breach of confidentiality by any individual with respect to a complaint, whether the complaint is found to be substantiated or unsubstantiated, may also constitute interference or retaliation.