From Labour Relations Consultant to Harassment and Discrimination Advisor for BCIT, Jennifer Walker will soon be taking on the role that will have her working with people from all parts of the totem pole at BCIT.
Walker, a trained lawyer who practices with the BC Law Society, is excited about the new role. Link Magazine brought an issue to Walker’s attention through its article “A Particular Class of Women” written by Rhianna Schmunk and published in our February issue. (If you haven’t read it, grab a copy still around campus or check it out online). The piece, which sheds light on the issue of harassment right here on campus, talks about the experience of one woman who is studying Trades and is no stranger to being discriminated against because of her gender. Walker says this type of thing needs not only stop, but is against the law and contrary to BCIT policy.
“I appreciate that harassment and discrimination is a real issue that people face, but this doesn’t make it acceptable,” Walker told Link in an interview. “I want BCIT to be a leader in providing a respectful working and learning environment.”
Walker has some advice for anyone on campus that goes through this type of harassment: address it as it’s happening. “These types of issues can serve as teachable moments for all involved, particularly the harasser,” explains Walker. Often in harassment complaints, the respondent will say, ‘I never intended that comment joke or image to offend.’ But lack of intent to offend or harass doesn’t make it okay!”
Following that advice, Walker has a message for women on campus who feel discriminated against: “You are not alone and there are options available,” said Walker encouraging anyone who feels harassed to approach the harasser if they feel they can. “Ensure the other person is aware that what they are doing/saying is unwelcome and ask them to stop,” she advises cautiously, noting that it could be too intimidating or inappropriate in some cases. “Depending on the circumstances, I would also encourage the student to tell someone else about what they are experiencing: tell their instructor, Program Head, Chief Instructor, Associate Dean, Registrar, Counsellor, and of course come to the H&D office and address the conduct and hopefully make it stop.”
Walker adds one more important piece of advice. Even if a victim doesn’t want to make a formal or written complaint, she says it’s important to document what happened and details like dates, times, specifics about the incident and names of witnesses.
Visit www.bcit.ca/harassment/ for more information on Policies and Procedures as well as advice on Conflict Resolution.
Read the article about discrimination at BCIT through the story of one woman in Trades:
Neetu was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley (minus the few toddler years she spent living in Punjab, India where her line of heritage is from). She moved to the lower mainland to attend BCIT and is now in her graduating year of the Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. Her writing and editing for Link magazine often happens late at night because when she’s not at school she works as a reporter and anchor for CKNW Newstalk 980 and is also involved in the start up of a charity called the Beautiful World Foundation. She loves to travel and feels fortunate to be in a field where she can share the stories of interesting and inspiring people from around the world.