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Discrimination & Accommodation

The Statement on Prohibited Discrimination sets out Dalhousie University's commitment to safeguarding its students and employees against all forms of prohibited discrimination in the course of work or study or participation in University-sponsored organizations, activities and programs.

What is discrimination?
“For the purpose of this Act, a person discriminates where the person makes a distinction, whether intentional or not, based on a characteristic, or perceived characteristic…that has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations or disadvantages on an individual or a class of individuals not imposed upon others or which withholds or limits access to opportunities, benefits and advantages available to other individuals or classes of individuals in society.” -Section 4 of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act

Discrimination can take one of two forms - direct or systemic.

Direct Discrimination
Direct discrimination describes an act, behaviour or practice of treating a person unequally on the basis of any of the prohibited grounds. Direct discrimination may be overt and admitted or covert and denied.

Systemic Discrimination
The second form of discrimination is most commonly known as systemic discrimination because it is discrimination inherent in, or the result of, the organization's informal or formal policies, practices or procedures.

Systemic discrimination occurs where a requirement, qualification or factor which, on its face, is not discriminatory on the basis of a prohibited ground but which results in the exclusion, restriction or preference of a group identified by a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Examples of Direct Discrimination:

  • A manager only assigns special projects and developmental opportunities to those staff without children because they assume that they will overburden those with family responsibilities.
  • A class has been asked to organize into groups. As student x approaches a group of students, one of the students stop them and says, "Our group is full." As student x walks away, they overhear, "They are nice, but their religion interferes with their availability to meet."
  • Student x has an accommodation to writes their exams in the Advising and Access Centre. One of their professors has told student x that they object to the "special treatment" they are receiving and that since “student x has an unfair advantage over their classmates” they are "going to take all this special treatment into account when calculating your final grade".
  • Professor x, originally from India, heard that one of their students (student y), is telling their classmates and other professors that professor x "can't teach" and "is incompetent". Students who previously participated in class have become withdrawn and appear to defer to student y. Another student confides in professor x that student y is circulating a petition demanding that professor x be removed from all teaching duties and their credentials be examined as well that student y has used racially offensive words to describe professor x.

What is Accommodation?

Accommodation is a series of steps taken to ensure that individuals, regardless of physical or mental ability, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, family or marital status, pregnancy, ancestry, place of origin, and citizenship have equal access and opportunity to participate fully in events, services, and employment.   Under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Code, everyone has the right to request accommodation if he or she is being denied access to services, housing or employment on any protected grounds listed in the Code.