Concordia University

Blog post

Overcoming Conflict in Grad School

October 9, 2019
By GradProSkills
Source: GradProSkills

rights, responsibilities, code, conduct, lisa, white, graduate, students, harassment

Did you know that the Office of Rights and Responsibilities’ major goal is to prevent behaviour that violates the Code of Rights and Responsibilities? The Code is an important document that guides the Offices’ activities, and it promotes equity, respect and diversity among Concordia members (students, staff and professors).

We talked to Lisa White, Director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities, to understand the Office’s wider scope of activities. Lisa emphasised that one important goal of her team is to train Concordia members to be prepared to identify situations that will potentially trigger a conflict. It is important to develop outreach and educational activities to create awareness of the Office’s services for students, professors and staff. The Office is a place where the Concordia community can seek a confidential and impartial consultation, and receive advice and resources in navigating a challenging situation.

When can the Office help? For instance, hosting presentations during department orientation sessions to new students to raise awareness about the resources available to mediate and solve behavioural situations described in the Code. The Office also supports Grad students experiencing conflict with their supervisors by offering its services, or providing referrals to the appropriate services.

If you experience or witness a breach of Concordia's Code of Rights and Responsibilities, know that:

1.    It is never too early to seek for advice.

If you experienced or witnessed a case of discrimination, psychological and sexual harassment, and/or violence, or if you are concerned about someone’s behaviour on campus contact the Office of Rights and Responsibilities ( or 514-848-2424, ext. 8659). The Office’s early involvement might increase the chances of a quicker and simpler solution.

2.    Assessment of the needs of the person reporting a case of misconduct. 

The Office of Rights and Responsibilities will provide advice and suggestions, and will discuss options regarding how to resolve a complaint. Consulting the Office does not activate the formal complaint process. Advisors will verify if the person coming forward is in a situation that might require assistance of supporting resources such as academic, security, and psychological help. In case of sexual violence, students are encouraged to contact the Sexual Assault Resource Centre directly for specialized support and assistance.

3.    The Office facilitates a dialogue between the parties involved whenever appropriate.

The Office will use informal procedures like clarifying perceptions, mediation and providing other strategies for resolution. If this route is not successful, or the individual chooses to proceed with a formal complaint, the Office will explain the process to be followed. The Code outlines the complaint process and procedures to be followed, but each consultation with the Office is treated on a case-by-case basis.

4.    Complaints are resolved according to the Code’s procedures.

The Office ensures that all complaints (formal and informal) are dealt following the procedures outlined in the Code. When a formal complaint is pursued the Office follows standard processes to resolve it through a set of processes such as hearings, tribunals, investigations and sanctions, according to each situation.

The Office of Rights and Responsibilities goes beyond solving a conflict or pursuing a disciplinary action. It aims at fostering a convivial and cooperative environment after the conflict is over. The earlier Lisa’s team is consulted by the party concerned about a situation the higher the chances to resolve behavioural situations early on without them escalating or compromising your academic success.

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