The Brock community welcomes Milé Komlen and Michelle Poirier to the Human Rights and Equity office to help further oversee the university’s human rights policies.
Komlen, who has extensive work experience in human rights and equity at his previous university institution, will be helping in the development of policies that will help Brock University fulfill its obligations to human rights and equity university-wide. This includes strengthening current policy as well as adding additional policy if and where it’s needed.
“I’m the acting senior advisor in Human Rights and Equity,” says Komlen. “It’s acting because the university is in the process of hiring a permanent director for the office. I was brought in for my experience having directed the Human Rights and Equity Services at McMaster University for eight years.”
Poirier, who also worked for MacMaster as the conflict resolution and equity specialist,will assume management of the previous caseload while also conducting the intake of new complaints.
“There’s a proactive side of the office where we participate in events, trainings, workshops to help prevent discrimination and harassment from happening on campus,” said Poirier. “And then there’s the reactive piece where staff, students, faculty, community members, anyone who feels they’ve been harassed or discriminated can come into the office and I can facilitate a process to address that concern.”
The university, which has been aiming to become more inclusive and welcoming, has brought on board Komlen and Poirier to help invigorate Brock’s Human Rights and Equity Office. This action will help not only strengthen policy that’s currently in place like the Sexual Assault and Harassment policy that was released in December 2016, but help in creating a dialogue about intersectionality and about ways that current policies can become more diverse.
“We’re promoting dialogues on inclusion and encouraging people from different backgrounds to participate in forums that discuss Human Rights issues,” said Komlen. “There’s a lot of passion and commitment to these issues on campus and we’re going to try to create forums and outlets so that more people can participate and have their voices heard.”
This will includes dialogues on how Brock can become more indigenized and ways which Brock will continue to fulfill its obligations to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Additional to their previous work experience, both Komlen and Poirier are members of the executive of the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education, an organization for equity offices at colleges and universities across the country.
Beyond the responsibilities that come with their new positions, Komlen and Poirier look forward to helping move Brock forward into a more culturally diverse and accepting future.
“One of the things we’d like to create is a culture of human rights on campus and I think we’re seeing strong support for that from the university president who has a deep commitment to equity and diversity,” said Komlen. “I know president Gervan Fearon is leading a lot of initiatives to ensure that the recommendations of the Human Rights Task Force are being implemented.”
As for what Komlen and Poirier want students to know, both feel that it’s important that students feel welcomed and comfortable if they should ever need any assistance from the Human Rights and Equity office.
“Sometimes students worry about coming and disclosing things here because they’re afraid we’ll take action on their behalf which is not always necessarily true,” said Poirier. “We’ll work with them and present a variety of different options that are available to them and they can help direct the process as they’d like to see it go forward.”
Komlen and Poirier will be working with Chris Lytle, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) coordinator at Brock and Allison Cadwallader, the Sexual Violence Response and Education Coordinator to help in advising president Gervan Fearon on ways of implementing recommendations from the report released by the Human Rights Task Force.