Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Services Most Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Diversity, Equity & Human Rights Services Office

The Diversity Equity & Human Rights Services Office provides advice, consultation, information and educational forums on the following:

  • Human Rights
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Freedom of Information
  • Access and Privacy
  • Employment Equity
  • Diversity Awareness

In matters of discrimination and harassment, your rights are protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code and by the George Brown College Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment Policy.

Is your office just for students?

The Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Services assists all students, staff and administration that study and work at the college.

Where do I go for issues that are not really human rights related?

The Student Association & Student Affairs have persons, counsellors available to assist students with non Human Rights issues.

What are Human Rights?

The term 'human rights' covers many different fundamental rights and freedoms. These are all based on the recognition that all people are equal in dignity. They are essential for everyone's enjoyment of life. They are designed to safeguard human integrity, freedom and equality.

The Ontario Human Rights Code (the "Code") is for everyone. It is a provincial law that gives everybody equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. The Code's goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race, colour, sex, disability and age, to name some of the sixteen grounds.

The Code was one of the first laws of its kind in Canada. Before 1962, various laws dealt with different kinds of discrimination. The Code brought them together into one law and added some new protections. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the "Commission") administers and enforces the Code. However, an independent body separate from the Commission, called a Board of Inquiry, makes the ultimate decision in a complaint.

Is there an international human rights standard?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, agreed to on 10 December, 1948, sets out the basic rights and freedoms of all men, women and children.

Does everyone have the same human rights?

All GBC college students, staff, faculty, management, administrators, contractors and visitors to the college are covered by the College’s The Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment Policy which adheres to the Ontario Human Rights.

Can my rights be taken away from me?

A person's human rights cannot be taken away as they are law in Ontario. However, this doesn't mean that abuses and violations of human rights don't occur. This is why having a complaints process in place and ongoing Human Rights education is essential.

What is Code of Conduct?

The Code of Conduct outlines the minimal standards of personal conduct that the college expects of all its’ students, staff, faculty, administrators, managers, contractors, and visitors.
The Code of Conduct Policies cover:

  • Classroom conduct
  • Workplace conduct
  • Conduct relating to academic performance
  • Relationships with students, faculty, administrators, staff and the general public both on campus and outside of the George Brown College environment while engaged in college related activities.
What does Equity mean?

Equity refers to fairness, or principles of justice, aimed to redress inequalities in opportunity experienced by some students. Equity does not mean treating everyone in the same way but means treating people in a fair and flexible way, recognizing that all people have different needs and that some groups experience disadvantage, which impedes the educational progress.

What is Employment Equity?

Employment Equity refers to a comprehensive program designed to overcome discrimination in employment experienced by members of equity groups. The goal is to give equity groups access to all jobs, re-evaluate traditional jobs and improve equity groups’ overall economic situation. An employment equity plan is designed to eliminate barriers that create discriminatory practices and denies access to all jobs to members of a designated group and to address past discriminatory practices. The designated groups are:

  • women
  • Aboriginal peoples
  • persons with disabilities
  • visible minorities

It’s important to note that employment equity is not a quota system or a system with the intent of implementing a one-size fits all process. The basic principle underlying Employment Equity is to provide all employees with the same opportunities and access regardless of heritage, gender or abilities. Thus this may require implementing specific measures to avoid discrimination in work practices and environments. The overall goal is to institute positive policies and practices and make reasonable accommodations so that the representation of persons in designated groups in the employer’s workforce reflects their representation in the Canadian workforce.

How do I make a complaint?

You can make a formal complaint to a Chair or Manager of a department or any other appropriate administrator depending on the nature of the complaint and the identity of the people involved. Complaints may also be made to an Advisor in Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Services, who will help you through the process.

What types of complaints can I make?

Complaints about human rights discrimination and harassment can be made under any of the prohibited grounds covered under the College Prevention

  • Age Ancestry
  • Citizenship
  • Class (not covered under the Ontario Human Rights Code)
  • Colour
  • Creed (religion),
  • Disability (formerly handicap), Ethnic Origin (including culture, language, dialect, accent or custom)
  • Family Status
  • Marital Status
  • Place of origin
  • Race
  • Receipt of public assistance
  • Record of provincial offenses (or pardoned federal offenses)
  • Sex (including gender identity & pregnancy)
  • Sexual Orientation

Gender Identity:
Because the Ontario Human Rights Code does not yet specifically name Gender Identity as a prohibited ground, it does not yet appear as a specific ground in George Brown’s Policy. Like the Ontario Human Rights Commission, matters of gender identity discrimination or harassment currently fall under the ground of "sex". Please note that the college is constantly reviewing and updating policies and will be considering adding Gender Identity as a prohibited ground in and of itself.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Anyone can make an anonymous complaint however it must be acknowledged that anonymous complaints are very difficult to act upon since there is no identifiable complainant. All formal complaints require a written submission of the complaint which will be shared with the respondent in the case.

Will it cost me anything to make a complaint?

The college’s process is free to all students, staff, faculty, administrators and visitors to the college.

Who will represent me?

The college does not provide legal representation to any parties. You can bring a support person or representative to any meetings. We offer a confidential safe place to discuss your concern or complaint. We will show you options and the steps to deal with the issue.

Can you go to a meeting with me?

On occasion when the complaint falls under the Prevention of Discrimination & Harassment Policy for George Brown College we will accompany an individual.

What happens if I decide I do not want to continue with my complaint?

People sometimes change their mind about continuing with their complaint or they may negotiate an outcome with the respondent before their complaint is closed. You can withdraw your complaint at any time during the process without penalty. You should write and advise the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Services that you do not want to continue with the complaint or contact the advisor or administrator handling your complaint and inform them in writing that you do not wish to continue.

I’m here on a student visa. Does it still apply to me?

Yes, the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment Policy at the college applies to all students, staff and administration at the college.

I’m a Con-Ed student. Who do I see for assistance?

You can take your concerns to a Chair or manager of the department in the Con-Ed area or any other appropriate administrator depending on the nature of the complaint and the identity of the people involved.

If I work for the Student Association can I still go to your office for assistance?

Yes, our services are open for all GBC students.

Can a professor fail me if I make a complaint? Will making a complaint affect my marks?

Making a complaint should not affect your marks. It is the responsibility of the administrator handling the complaint to ensure that reprisal does not occur. The Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment Policy has clear language protecting you from reprisal.

Can you come into my classroom and do a presentation?

Frequently, faculty invites us to their classes to present on issues concerning diversity, equity and human rights. If you are interested in us coming to your class, please ask your professor to invite us to facilitate a session.

Do you have books or videos I can borrow?

Yes, we have a small collection of DVD’s and books which can be signed out from our offices.

Can I volunteer in your office?

We post on our Diversity website any volunteer opportunities. These opportunities are temporary and infrequent.

What is homophobia and heterosexism?

Homophobia: Phobias refer to the fear, hatred, or dislike of queer individuals.

Heterosexism refers to a system of beliefs and practices that exclude and demean those who are, or are perceived to be, same-sex oriented. Heterosexism includes the promotion by individuals and/or institutions of the superiority of heterosexuality over all other orientations. Heterosexism can be intentional or unintentional. Like other forms of discrimination, it is often invisible to those who are not its targets. heterosexual. It is also believing heterosexuality to be superior to homosexuality and all other sexual orientations.

How can I get more information about the Positive Space Campaign?

You may contact the Positive Space Campaign Coordinator at Ext. 4609 or contact the Diversity Equity and Human Rights Services Office.

Who should I talk to if my disability is not being accommodated in a class?

You may speak to your Disability Consultant, the Chair of your program or contact an Advisor in the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights services office.

Where are the accessible washrooms?

Visit campus locations and detailed floor plans showing accessibility features, department and services guide.