The University of Ottawa has the responsibility to create a safe, healthy work environment that all Employees feel comfortable working in; as such, harassment is not and should never be tolerated.

Harassment – in any form or guise – is of serious concern to us. If you feel that you have experienced any kind of harassment, we invite you to contact us for support. CUPE 2626 can provide both informal and formal processes for dealing with the situation, depending on the severity of the incident as well as your preference. In any meetings or discussions surrounding an incident of harassment you have the right to have a representative from CUPE 2626 with you or present representing you if the you don’t feel comfortable attending such meetings.

How we took action : “Speak Out” campaign

speakuotOn May 28, 2014, Joseph Roy and Shelagh Roxburgh spoke out against harassment, discrimination and intimidation at the University of Ottawa. As teaching and research assistants, both Joseph and Shelagh have had to face intimidation and discrimination from their supervisors.

Joseph was invited in the summer of 2006 to do his Ph.D. at uOttawa. However, during his stay at uOttawa, Joseph was at times denied union contracts by his supervisor. For more than 700 hours of work, he was paid only one-third of the wages his fellow research assistants earned. In some cases, Joseph was not paid for his work at all. As a student, he experienced unreasonable delays, setting his own work back six years. Joseph has since completed his thesis with distinction under another Professor’s supervision, but he wants to see changes in the institutional culture at uOttawa. For Joseph, there are “… problems with discrimination, harassment and labour rights that seem to be endemic and accepted by the administration as part of completing a graduate degree here at the University of Ottawa.”

Joseph is not alone. Shelagh Roxburgh was wrongfully dismissed from a teaching assistance position for alerting her Department to problems with a course’s content. Despite discrimination and intimidation by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Shelagh hopes to help encourage other students to speak out.

These two cases are not isolated incidents. Despite frequent violations, many students fear professional retaliation and lack confidence in the University institutions responsible for their defense. Over the last couple of years, CUPE 2626 has witnessed many grievances brought forward by academic workers against the University. For most of these, harassment has played a role in some form.

CUPE 2626 invites all students, TAs and RAs to share their stories and Speak Out against harassment in the campus workplace. If you or someone you know has experienced or is experiencing problems with their supervisors, do not hesitate to contact us. We’re here to listen and we’re here to help.