The University of Regina unveiled a newly updated program Monday which has one simple goal: to make good people even better.
The conference was held in the Research and Innovation Centre and invited the academic community to join in celebrating the advancement. UR Respect aims to certify staff and students in recognizing and preventing bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
The program is a 90-minute online course that all students will be encouraged to take. U of R president Vianne Timmons said it will be compulsory for student-athletes in order to ensure the safety of their teammates. Timmons also said the staff will have a large role in the program.
“All of the university’s leadership team are in the process of being certified or recertified,” Timmons said. “Our participation is a commitment to a future in which all faculty members — staff, students, and visitors to our campus — feel that they are welcomed, respected and valued.”
As a public figure, Timmons is all too familiar with the damaging comments that can circulate in workplace environments.
“I have personally experienced nasty, uncivil, and disrespectful comments and interactions towards me. We need to push back. We need to say ‘Not on our campus!’ ”
Also playing a leading role in the unveiling of UR Respect is 2014 Order of Canada recipient and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy. Following the 1996 sexual assault charges against his former hockey coach, Kennedy cofounded Respect Group. Since then, his initiative has certified over a million Canadians in preventing workplace harassment.
“These issues carry a lot of fear,” Kennedy said. “And the best way to eliminate fear is through education. Our best defence is knowledge.”
Respect Group’s focus has shifted over the past two decades from solely focusing on individuals who were misbehaving to focusing on making those who are behaving well even better. Kennedy believes the main issue is lack of information.
“When we walked into workplaces across this country and asked people to give us a definition of abuse, harassment, or discrimination, or about their legal duty of character, the odds of getting a right answer weren’t very good,” Kennedy said.
During the unveiling ceremony, Kelly Kummerfield from the U of R human resource office highlighted why programs like UR Respect are necessary.
“When three in 10 Canadians say they work in environments that are not psychologically safe or healthy…It’s time to take a good long look at how we treat ourselves and one another,” said Kummerfield.