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Human Rights Policies

All members of the Ryerson community share the responsibility to uphold the university’s commitment to foster a learning and working environment free of discrimination, harassment and sexual violence. 

The Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) is quasi-constitutional provincial legislation that applies to Ryerson as a provincially-regulated educational institution and employer. The Code outlines that every person has a right to equal treatment without discrimination or harassment with respect to accommodation (housing), contracts (the right to enter into a verbal or written commercial agreement), employment, goods, services and facilities, and membership in unions, trade or professional associations. 

Every member of the Ryerson community has a right to equal treatment without discrimination or harassment on the basis of personal characteristics related to one or more of the following protected grounds under the Code: 

  • age
  • citizenship
  • creed
  • disability 
  • marital status and family status
  • race, colour, ethnic origin, place of origin and ancestry
  • sex
  • sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression 
  • receipt of public assistance (housing only)
  • record of offences (employment only)

In implementing the Code at Ryerson, we have two policies that inform how Ryerson community members interact and the role that all individuals play in ensuring the full and equal participation and dignity of all students, faculty and staff at the university. Ryerson’s Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy and Sexual Violence Policy continue to apply on campus, as well as off-campus and online when engaging in university-related activities.

Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy 

This policy provides direction to the university community on human rights matters, including the prohibition of discrimination and harassment with respect to the university’s delivery of educational services to students, employment of faculty and staff, and the provision of housing to students on the basis of the protected grounds (listed above).

Read the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy.

Sexual Violence Policy

This policy provides direction to the univeristy community on matters related to sexual violence, including the ways in which the university is committed to addressing sexual violence and rape culture through survivor support, awareness, outreach, education, training and prevention programs. It also outilnes the process for handling reports or complaints of sexual violence incidents.

Read the Sexual Violence Policy.

Discrimination may occur if an individual in the university community experiences adverse treatment in education, employment or housing where one or more of their personal characteristics connected to a protected ground(s) (e.g. race, sex, disability, etc.) was a factor in the adverse treatment or impact. 

In other words, the adverse treatment or impact must be in whole or in part because of the individual’s protected personal characteristic(s).

Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently and disadvantageously because of a personal characteristic(s) connected to one or more of the protected grounds. 

Constructive discrimination occurs when a policy or practice that appears to be neutral nonetheless affects someone differently and disadvantageously because of a personal characteristic(s) connected to one or more of the protected grounds. 

Key takeaways

  • Discrimination may be based on one or more than one of the individual’s protected personal characteristic(s). If it is based on a combination of protected grounds it is referred to as intersectional, external link discrimination.
  • Discrimination may occur even if the protected personal characteristic(s) is not the only reason, or even the primary reason, for the adverse treatment/impact; it only has to be one of the factors. 
  • Intention is not necessary for a finding of discrimination; it is the impact that is relevant.

Harassment is defined as a course of vexatious comments or conduct based on one or more personal characteristics connected to a protected ground(s) (e.g. age, sexual orientation, creed, etc.) where the person responsible for the behaviour knows or ought reasonably to know that the comments and/ or conduct is unwelcome.

Sexual harassment is a specific type of harassment that is based on the protected grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Sexual violence is any sexual act or acts targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent. This includes, but is not limited to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, sexual exploitation, degrading sexual imagery, distribution of sexual images or video of a community member without their consent, and cyber harassment or cyber stalking of a sexual nature.

Human Rights Services

  • Human Rights Services works to promote an equitable and inclusive campus community, free from discrimination and harassment based on the protected grounds identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code. 
  • Prevention through education is one of our key goals. We work to empower individuals, groups and units with the tools and understanding to address human rights concerns. 
  • Human Rights Services offers free and confidential complaint resolution services to the university’s students, faculty, staff and commnity members based on the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy and the Sexual Violence Policy.

Learn more about Human Rights Services.

Sexual Violence Services

All Ryerson community members, including students, faculty and staff, can access services from Consent Comes First and Human Rights Services. 

Consent Comes First

  • Free and confidential support for those affected by sexual violence, harassment and other forms of gender-based violence (whether it occurred on- or off-campus, or if they were subjected to the violence before they came to Ryerson). 
  • Connection to counselling and medical services, safety planning, academic considerations and workplace accommodations, and more.
  • Support to university community members to make an informed decision should an individual choose to report to authorities within the university, police or professional bodies.
  • Core customized workshops, seminars and speakers to foster understanding of topics such as online harassment, bystander intervention, consent in the workplace, sexual harasment and sexual violence. The team is responsible for coordinating campus-wide education on sexual violence.
  • Community programming and campaigns for the wider campus community on gender justice, sexual violence, dismantling rape culture and creating cultures of consent.