Code of Conduct and Safety

Responsibility 1

Review policies and procedures to recommend how complaints of racism should be addressed, identifying offices responsible.


To thrive in the University’s learning and working environment, all members of the campus community must feel safe. The feeling of safety encompasses both physical and emotional well-being and requires visible support for those who experience harm or hurt (or the threat of harm or hurt), trauma-informed decision-making, accountability for misconduct, and demonstrable change to the systems that make up lived experiences. To achieve these objectives, the Working Group reviewed the September 2019 draft of Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour and its accompanying procedures (referred to collectively as Policy 33).


Recommendation 11

The Taskforce recommends the following changes to Policy 33, presented with the goal of fostering feelings of safety across campus.

  • Define racism: Fundamental to improving the above is the definition of racism. The Taskforce proposes the following definition of racism:
    • Racism is prejudice based on race; an ideology that either directly or indirectly asserts that one group is inherently superior to others. This ideology often manifests itself at an individual level in attitudes and behaviours, and, at a systems level in policies and practices and operate to sustain the advantages of peoples of certain races. It can be openly displayed, it can be deeply rooted in attitudes, values and beliefs, and in some cases can be unconscious. (Based on publication by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and on definition provided by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation)
  • Ensure the visibility of the issue: As noted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, effective responses to racism start with an acknowledgment that racism exists. When racism is named as a problem, organizations become better equipped to appropriately address and prevent it and are better able to give a voice to those who experience it.
  • Clarify the application of the policy: For any policy to be effective, transparency and clarity are key. Individuals affected by racism should be able to easily identify Policy 33 as the policy that applies to their circumstances. They should easily understand the scope of the policy and know what to expect in terms of process. The definitions that form the foundation of the policy are fundamental to the overall operation of the policy.
  • Support individuals who experience racism: The feeling of safety on campus is bolstered by the explicit identification of resources and supports available, specific to the nature of their experience. Decision makers should be provided with support in exercising their authority in a manner that makes use of the resources now available on campus through the Equity Office.

Detailed suggested changes to Policy 33 aimed at addressing these issues have been documented by the Code of Conduct and Safety Working Group and can be provided on request.

Responsibility 2

Provide recommendations on standards of expected behaviour and conduct related to a safe and inclusive campus community.


The University aims to foster an environment of tolerance and respect, which is free of discrimination, as stated in Policy 33. This Policy lists and defines a range of behaviours that go against the University’s expectations of conduct, and which can contribute towards an unsafe campus community, including discrimination, harassment, and violence. The Taskforce has requested changes to this Policy to further strengthen it – for example, clearly naming ‘racism’ as an ‘ethical misconduct’ and identifying it as a problem (see Recommendation 11).

Although Policy 33 addresses discrimination, harassment, and other forms of misconduct, it was also considered whether the development and implementation of additional policies – specifically an anti-racism policy and a code of conduct policy – could further contribute towards a safe and inclusive campus community. To inform this consideration, an environmental scan of similar policies at peer institutions was conducted and these policies were compared to existing ones at the University. Results of this research and ensuing recommendations are provided below.

Anti-racism policy

A stand-alone anti-racism policy for the University was considered as part of this responsibility. However, a comprehensive environmental scan of other postsecondary institutions in Canada revealed that such policies are uncommon. Only four such policies were found (Mount Allison University; York University; Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, and Confederation College). No U15 has a comprehensive, stand-alone anti-racism policy. These anti-racism policies are similar to Policy 33, as they address standards of expected behaviour and conduct related to a safe and inclusive environment. For this reason, the Taskforce decided against this proposal – opting instead to maintain its recommended changes to Policy 33 to address standards of expected behaviour and incidents of racial discrimination on campus.

Code of conduct policy

A separate code of conduct policy was also considered. An environmental scan of U15s was conducted to examine their codes of conduct (e.g., their purposes, key policy statements, list of prohibited behaviours, disciplinary measures). In addition, an analysis was conducted on the key similarities and differences between these U15 policies and the University of Waterloo’s Policies 33 and 71. Results indicate that the University’s policies already cover crucial and important elements of the Codes of Conduct of other universities. For this reason, the Taskforce does not think that a stand-alone Code of Conduct for the University is needed at this time. However, it recommends that Policy 71 includes information on or reference to professional codes of conduct, as students are also expected to adhere to the ethics and standards of the professions they are training to enter upon graduation. For instance, these standards require professionals to act ethically, and refrain from discrimination, unjust treatment of others, and harassment.


Recommendation 12

Although a standalone anti-racism policy and a code of conduct policy are not recommended at this time, the Taskforce recommends that the University include information on or reference to professional codes of conduct in Policy 71.

Responsibility 3

Provide recommendations for language on anti-racism to be included on the template for every course syllabus, containing a code of conduct and steps which will be taken if that code is violated.


Currently, course outline requirements for undergraduate students indicate that statements on academic integrity, grievance, discipline, appeals, and a note for students with disabilities must be included in all course outlines and websites. However, no statement on anti-racism (or any other form of discrimination) is included. The Taskforce has developed a statement to be added to this list, which:

  • promotes the amplification of the diverse Black, Indigenous and other racialized voices on campus.
  • draws attention to an avenue that exists to ensure that Black, Indigenous, and other racialized experiences are heard and respected.
  • provides a vehicle for the acknowledgment of systemic racism and action towards structural change.
  • promotes open listening, learning, and acknowledgement of racism as a means of broadening our understanding and ending racism on our campus.
  • provides an opportunity for the assessment and evaluation of behaviours on campus and under the auspices of the University to ensure community alignment with the mission and vision of PART.
  • indicates that transparency and accountability are formalized in a specific and measurable process.


Recommendation 13

The Taskforce recommends the use of the following Anti-Racism Statement in all course syllabi:

The University of Waterloo does not tolerate racism or any other form of discrimination and expects campus community members to contribute to a culture where all members feel safe and valued. Any member of the campus community who has experienced racism or discrimination at the University is encouraged to review available processes for addressing their concerns under Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour and to seek guidance from the Equity Office via email at or through their website:

Responsibility 4

Develop recommendations for dealing with groups with offensive ideologies.


In 2018 the Ontario government mandated that “colleges and universities develop, implement and comply with a free speech policy that meets a minimum standard based on best practices from around the world.” The government mandate indicated that the policy should “protect[s] free speech while ensuring that hate speech, discrimination and other illegal forms of speech are not allowed on campus.”4

In response to this mandate, the University of Waterloo developed, and then undertook extensive consultation on the proposed University of Waterloo Freedom of Speech policy. On January 1, 2019, the current version of Policy 8 – Freedom of Speech (The Policy), became effective.

The Policy provides information on the framework of University Governing Documents used to protect and promote open discussion and free inquiry at the University, as well as the mechanisms for addressing breaches of the Policy. While these mentioned mechanisms can also be used to address offensive ideologies, hate speech, discriminatory speech, and other illegal forms of speech (collectively referred to as Offensive Ideologies), the Policy does not directly address these concerns.

It is the perception of the Taskforce that individuals who are concerned about the sharing of offensive ideologies at the University might look toward the Policy, as well as Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour for guidance. In this respect, it is the opinion of the Taskforce that there are opportunities to improve the University community’s understanding of how it will support those who wish to complain of their experiences with Offensive Ideologies.

The manner in which other postsecondary institutions handle Offensive Ideologies were also examined through an environmental scan. This exercise assisted in identifying gaps and limitations associated with the Policy.


Recommendation 14

Based on this background information, the Taskforce recommends that the following four questions be clarified, in addition to others as determined appropriate by the University:

  • Policy 8 defines “Speech” as “the communication of any idea, opinion, concept, data or other view”. Does this include all forms of expression?
  • How are the limits to free speech determined? Are there examples that demonstrate instances where free speech crosses a line?
  • Is there support for members of the University community who have been affected by Offensive Ideologies expressed by other members of the University community, expressed outside of the University?
  • Are there supports at the University for those members of the community who may be offended by ideologies that are protected as free speech or expression?

Given that Policy 8 is a relatively new policy, the best approach to be taken may be through the creation of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, to be linked to Policy 8. 

Responsibility 5

Provide recommendations for training for campus safety and security staff in anti-racism and de-escalation tactics.


To address this responsibility, an environmental scan of university and college campuses across Canada and the United States was conducted for relevant training programs aimed at campus security or police. To identify recommendations of best practices related to current events associated with systemic bias within the police services, the Working Group reviewed the 2021 Missing and Missed Report of The Independent Civilian Review into Missing Person’s Investigations, prepared by the Honourable Gloria J. Epstein, an independent reviewer. This report is relevant because it informs how identified biases in the Toronto’s Police Services can improve. The report’s recommendations include establishing relationships between the service and the vulnerable communities it serves and protects. The report also highlights the importance of seeing all members that are equity deserving rather than classifying people under one category such as race.

Multiple internet searches on de-escalation training for police services in Canada brought forward a history of deaths of racialized people who experience mental illness while engaging with police, thus bringing to light the need for increasing mental health awareness and management.

In addition, the members of the Working Group met with the University of Waterloo Special Constable Service (previously University of Waterloo Police Services), under the directorship of Alan Binns on April 6, 2021. The University of Waterloo Special Constable Service expressed an interest to further develop their curriculum on anti-racism training. During the meeting, the Special Constable Service communicated their commitment to support anti-racism in the campus community through community outreach.


Recommendation 15

The Taskforce proposes that training be available in four overarching thematic categories (see Appendix B for additional information on these themes):

  • Internal Reflection: training that positions Constables to internally examine their own beliefs, basic assumptions, and practices as they relate to anti-racism and interaction with diverse peoples.
  • Systemic and Institutional Influence: training that exposes underlying power constructs that influence policing and society at large.
  • Community Engagement and Building: training that considers and helps understand the communities served and protected by police services, particularly equity deserving communities.
  • De-escalation Training and Crisis Prevention: training that considers a holistic approach to managing complex situations (e.g., life threatening crises).

To support these training themes, the Taskforce recommends that the training be designed in a workshop style that includes participation and facilitators from the campus community or other equity supporting agencies. In addition, anti-racism training should be ongoing to support continuous improvement and to effectively respond to changes in the environment that could adversely impact equity deserving groups. 

It should be noted that at the point of this submission, the University had no official code of conduct apart from the expectations listed in Policy 33 regarding tolerance, respect and that each member of the community endeavours to contribute to the existence of a just and supportive community based on equality and respect for individual differences. As such, it was not possible to reference a code of conduct in the Anti-Racism Statement. This could be updated should the University implement an official code of conduct at a future date.