The University has a comprehensive policy and procedure for dealing with complaints of bullying and harassment in the learning environment. It also clearly articulates the University’s commitment to creating and sustaining a welcoming inclusive and accessible learning and work environment.
Copies of the policy are available from the Students’ Union, from your faculty office, from the Policy Implementation Unit.
This content is designed to answer some of the questions you may have if you feel you are being bullied or harassed whilst at the University.
A student who has been accused of bullying or harassment has the right to respond fully to such accusations. If you are in this position you too should refer to the policy.
The policy covers bullying or harassment on the following grounds:
- Religious belief
- political opinion
- sex or gender identity
- marital status
- having or not having dependants
- sexual orientation
- ethnic origin
- and age.
It also covers bullying which may not necessarily be based on any of these things.
It makes it clear that the University has a zero tolerance attitude to such behaviour. If you believe you are being bullied or harassed you should take appropriate action.
You can approach any of the following people in confidence: *
- One of the Harassment Advisers
- A Students’ Union sabbatical officer
- A Trades Union representative, if you are a member of a Trades Union
- A member of the Policy Implementation Unit
Any of these contacts will give you advice about the procedures, both informal and formal. (A student who has been accused of bullying or harassment also has the right to seek advice from any of these people)
The University reserves the right to investigate serious incidents of bullying or harassment, even if the complainant does not lodge a formal complaint.
What happens at the informal stage?
The Informal stage is designed to encourage resolution of the issue.
This could include a meeting with any of the people above, and could lead to a meeting with the alleged harasser, either on your own if you wished, or accompanied by the contact above. Such a meeting will only be arranged if both parties agree to this course of action.
The informal stage is appropriate when you just want the behaviour to stop or not to recur. Because it is informal there will be no official records of any meetings or discussions (other than the harassment advisers’ routine note of agreed action).
Experience has shown that the majority of complaints can be resolved by talking to the alleged harasser or having a meeting with a neutral third party present.
What happens if the problem cannot be resolved in this way?
The next stage is to consider mediation.
The University has a pool of trained mediators who can be contacted via the Mediation Services Co-ordinator, Andrew Caldwell, Head of Employee Relations, Department of Human Resources. Either the complainant or the alleged harasser can request mediation. Mediation is an option in the informal process and can be used if both parties agree.
The Mediation Services Co-ordinator will explain the service and what is involved.
Failure to resolve the issue at the informal stage does not preclude you from making a formal complaint.
What does the formal procedure involve?
A formal complaint must be made in writing to the Provost of the campus where you are based (if the complaint is about a fellow student) or to Director of Human Resources (if the complaint is about a member of staff) outlining the nature of the complaint.
Assistance may be sought from a harassment adviser, a Students’ Union representative or from the Policy Implementation Unit .
The Provost/Director of Human Resources will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 10 working days and will appoint an investigating panel, which will include the Students’ Union President or his/her nominee.
What do I have to do after I have made the written complaint?
You will have to attend an interview with the Investigating Panel when you will be asked to clarify the nature and details of the complaint. A summary of these details will be forwarded to the alleged harasser to enable them to prepare their defence.
The Investigating Panel will also interview the alleged harasser to put the allegations to him/her and provide an opportunity for them to respond. They will also interview any witnesses or other people they feel may be able to assist.
Can I take someone with me to the interview?
You may be accompanied by a Students’ Union Sabbatical Officer/Representative, a fellow student or a Harassment Adviser. You may not bring someone from outside the University.
Everyone who is being interviewed may be accompanied in this way.
What happens next?
Based on everything they have heard the Investigating Panel will reach a decision, which they will communicate, in writing, to the Provost/Director of Human Resources, who will then communicate it to you in writing and also to the alleged harasser.
If the Investigating Panel finds that your complaint of bullying/harassment has been substantiated they may recommend action. This may include a recommendation that disciplinary action is taken.
The Investigating Panel will write to you to advise you that the investigation is complete and the report has been sent to the Provost/Director of Human Resources.
If following an investigation an allegation is deemed to be fictitious or malicious this may also result in disciplinary action. However, the fact that a complaint is not upheld does not imply that it is facetious or malicious.
What if either party is unhappy with the outcome of the formal investigation?
There is an appeal process.
If either party is not happy with the outcome of the formal investigation they should write to the Vice-Chancellor (if the complaint is about a fellow student) or the Director of Human Resources (if the complaint is about a member of staff), who will appoint an Appeals Panel.
This will be chaired by a lay member of the University’s Council and will include the Students’ Union President or his/her nominee.
What happens next?
The Appeals Panel will only hear appeals on the grounds of a procedural complaint or if either party feels some relevant evidence has been missed or misunderstood. They will meet with relevant parties to investigate this.
They will then write a report of their findings to the Vice-Chancellor/Director of Human Resources, which may include recommendations for action. The Vice-Chancellor/Director of Human Resources will then meet with the relevant parties.
What if the person or their colleagues continue to bully or harass me?
Victimisation will not be tolerated by the University.
If the behaviour continues you should inform the Provost. If you wish to, you may ask one of the Harassment Advisers or a Students’ Union representative to speak to the Provost on your behalf.
The Role of the Bullying and Harassment Advisers
The Bullying and Harassment Advisers (the Advisers) are staff from throughout the University who are available to offer support and advice to both staff and students of the University who feel they may be subject to bullying or harassment. They are also available to offer advice to anyone who has been accused of such behaviour.
These staff have volunteered to take on this role and have received training to assist them to do so. Their role is to listen to you and provide you with information as to what steps are open to you if you feel you are being harassed or bullied. They will also explain the procedures to you. They cannot however solve the issue for you – their role is to give you sufficient information and advice that you feel able to decide what, if anything, you wish to do in the circumstances.
As a result of speaking to one of the Advisers you may feel able to tackle the situation on your own, because they may suggest a way of dealing with the circumstances that you had not thought of. Alternatively you may wish to make an informal complaint – they will be able to advise you as to how to do this and what action might be most appropriate in the circumstances. They will also be able to advise you about the formal procedures.
All discussions with the Advisers will be confidential and they will not take action on your behalf without your agreement.
You can view the list of the current bullying and harassment advisers.
They come from a range of departments and schools and you are free to contact any of them. You need not, and indeed we would encourage you not to contact someone you know or who works in the same area as you, but if you only feel able to contact them then do so in the first instance. However experience would indicate that often it is better for someone who is unconnected with the situation to advise you.
The University is committed to providing a safe and harmonious working environment in which no member of staff feels they are being bullied or harassed.
Bullying and Harassment are unacceptable and will not be permitted or condoned. The recognised Trades Unions and the Students Union have been fully consulted in drawing up this policy and are all committed to its success.
You should seek advice from the Policy Implementation Unit or from the Students’ Union Representative.
If you feel you are being bullied or harassed take action.