Human Rights & Positive Environment

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Welcome back! It’s great to see everyone here again for the fall term. Along with all of the new information that you’re getting at the start of term, or the start of your university career. The Office of Human Rights and Positive Environment has two exciting initiatives that you should know about this year.

Following up on the Volunteer Mediator program that Katharina Kolaritsch began, the Office will be offering the services of two volunteer mediators this year. Doctoral students Kim Korotkov and Courtenay Parlee who completed their training as certified Third Party Neutrals through the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution and UNB last year. This training has enabled them to facilitate meeting groups of individuals in conflict, or mediate disputes to a mutually agreeable resolution.

The benefits of working with a Volunteer Mediator include: access to a confidential, neutral party to explore an approach to conflict; experience with dignified, respectful communication through the conflict; and a resolution designed and implemented by the parties involved, not by an outsider. Typical concerns that Kim and Courtenay might address could include roommate, floormate or housemate disputes, clubs or other groups in conflict and groups needing facilitation to arrive at a direction or plan. Visit the Human Rights Office website at: http://www.unb.ca/humanrights/volunteer-mediator.html

In addition, the Office of Human Rights and Positive Environment will be hosting a bi-weekly column in both the Brunswickian and The Baron to explore the diversity among us as a community. It is my hope that by hearing from those of us with a wide range of experiences, we can learn more about ourselves and one another and embrace the range of human experience and perspectives that are right here on our campuses.

The column will focus on two themes each term. In the fall term, the themes will be discrimination, harassment and cultural diversity. The first set of articles will explain discrimination, harassment and the role of good intentions. We will share students’ experiences of different cultures from both international students studying here and domestic students who have studied abroad. Cultural traditions and perspectives that collide in the workplace or classroom will be explored.

In the winter term the themes will be bullying and sexual orientation. Researchers on bullying will share their knowledge about what bullying is and what it is not. Since students are also workers, dynamics of workplace bullying will be explained, along with strategies for dealing with intimidating or humiliating behaviour at work or in the classroom. The LGBTQ community will be asked to participate in the winter term column, busting myths and misunderstandings as well as sharing perspectives about sexual orientation to broaden and enhance understanding.

I look forward to sharing these exciting initiatives and insights from our community with you. If you or someone you know would be interested in sharing their experience with these topics, contact me at barbara.roberts@unb.ca. Interviews or stories of your experiences can be shared confidentially, and published anonymously if preferred.