FAQs

If it seems to fall within the problematic behaviours listed, it is worth considering how you would like to deal with it. Not all may be specifically mistreatment but they are difficult situations and warrant an initial confidential discussion.

Behaviours that challenge learners: [such as] closely questioning learners during rounds or in a group forum, leading to student embarrassment if they do not know the answer.

Significant behaviours: [such as] engaging in significant mistreatment, for example, by using abusive language or by asking learners to do things that are unreasonable.

Egregious behaviours: [such as] engaging in truly egregious behaviours such as asking learners to break the law or by behaving abusively towards learners.

Discriminatory behaviours: [such as] treating you unfairly based on human rights protected grounds: age, ancestry, colour, family status, marital status, physical or mental disability, place of origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and criminal conviction unrelated to employment. See UBC Policy #3.


Listen to your instincts. As early as possible, identify what might be going on regarding the use/abuse of power. Be self-reflective. Examine your role in the situation, and take responsibility where appropriate. Acknowledge what is happening and consider the best and most responsible way to advocate for your interests.

Document what was said and done. This will help you clarify your experiences and provide a reference for your recollection of what happened. If the situation gets worse and you choose to register your concerns, these notes will be important for illustrating the basis of your complaint. You will likely minimize or forget what you don’t record.

Don’t pretend that this is not happening. Recognize that mistreatment / harassment tends to get worse the longer it is ignored. Take responsibility for protecting yourself and others. Get to know the people and policies that can protect you.

First, for your own benefit: clarification, how best to handle a situation, how to handle a similar situation in future, and to decide whether to consider moving the concern forward, or not.

Second, for the benefit of others: If this situation has happened to you, it is likely it has or will happen for others. If the situation needs to be addressed in a more formal way than you managing it yourself, speaking with a FoM and/or UBC resource is the beginning of that process.

The most important first step is to speak to someone you trust. This could be someone from your personal life or someone from FoM and/or UBC. We have identified some people who would be a good first or second choice in the latter group and who may serve as a gateway into a more formal process.

No discussion is a waste of time! If you are concerned about something, it is far better to sort it out with someone who can help clarify how best to handle a situation, how to handle a similar situation in future, and how to move the concern forward, if you decide to do so. You may decide at that point that you can handle the situation directly without moving it forward as part of a formal process or may decide to begin a more formal process.

Of course! And, someone you trust could come with you or be with you while we speak on the phone. However, we can’t really help without hearing your concerns from you—indirect discussion is far less helpful than direct. Speaking with us or emailing us does not constitute a formal complaint and we can have a confidential conversation before that would happen. Please see the section on Reprisal and Retaliation.

Whenever there is a power gradient and whenever one person is in a position to evaluate another, there may be concerns about reprisal. If you have a confidential conversation with us, there will be no record kept in your academic file. We may keep internal records to aid our memories and document the process but these would not appear on any transcript or official document (such as the MD Undergraduate Program Medical Student Performance Record (MSPR) or student record within a Department).

When we speak with you in confidence, we can discuss the process and the “exposure” you might have in making a formal complaint.

Please see the section on Reprisal and Retaliation.

The short answer is no but you can have a confidential conversation with one of us. Please see the section on Confidentiality and Anonymity for the reasons why. Your personal information is considered confidential and we will not share it with anybody else without your permission unless:

  • disclosure is necessary to respond to your request for assistance;
  • disclosure is required or authorized by law; or
  • compelling circumstances exist that affect anyone’s health or safety (including yours).

Yes. As a witness, you have experienced the event yourself, if indirectly, and this contributes to your learning environment not being safe. It would be worthwhile to sort it through with someone and decide if you can help the person who was directly involved come forward, or whether you personally need or want to proceed yourself.

We want to hear from you, so however we can best start a discussion is fine. We can probably get back to you most quickly by email or phone, especially if it is an emergency.

If you email us, you can expect to hear back during the next business day or you will receive an out-of-office notice telling you whom to contact instead. Most of us check our emails after hours but are not on-call as such. If there is an emergency situation, you may need to mobilize resources to remove yourself and keep yourself safe, such as calling Campus Security or Building Security or 911. If the situation is such that you should not return, please highlight that in your communications to us.

This is a hard question to answer! Many issues get resolved with talking it through and approaching the situation slightly differently or with a different frame of reference. Some issues can be handled informally by the person to whom you first speak; others require impartial mediation, investigation, hearing from both or all sides of a situation, and decisions to be made. The first may take a couple days. The latter situations may take longer! You may decide not to pursue solving your concern until you have left the situation. This is not optimal but may be the best and safest solution for you.

“Not substantiated” does not mean something did not happen, it means that you are in a “he said/she said” situation and there is not enough information for the formal process to get to the “truth”. That does not mean that there was no point in bringing the concern forward: There are always lessons learned all round and it contributes to keeping everyone aware of the policies about appropriate behavior. Please see the section on Unsubstantiated Complaints.

Yes. In the initial stage of confidential conversation you are unlikely to need someone to advocate for you but may want someone (a classmate, a friend, a family member) to come with you or be with you as a support person. For the most part, the contacts we have given you will be impartial and not able to speak for you and you alone as a true advocate would. As you move along in the process, depending on your learner role, you may want to involve the UBC Ombuds Office, Alma Mater Society (AMS), your Undergraduate Society, Resident Doctors of BC, CFMS. These agencies are not necessarily advocacy ones but can refer you to the correct resources.

Advocates take your side and help speak for you. None of the contacts are advocates in this sense but can help you find resources to advocate for you if that becomes necessary in the process.

Probably not, and certainly not for the initial discussions. If a situation can be successfully resolved at the local level, having lawyers present makes it automatically more formal and can impede the process. That said, if you are uncomfortable, feeling blamed or accused of something yourself, it would be reasonable to consult one.