Last week, UMSU and various University of Manitoba resource offices, including Career Services and the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management (OHRCM), hosted a Know Your Rights campaign aimed to inform students about their rights and the resources available to them.
During the week, information sessions touched on topics such as international student health care, the UMSU health and dental plan, the legal protection program and employment rights.
UMSU vice-president advocacy Victoria Romero said that most of the sessions were recorded, and that these recordings should be available for students to access.
She explained that the sessions’ topics were based on frequently asked questions UMSU receives from students.
Romero believes that it is important for students to receive information on these topics from a reliable source.
She said that students may feel too intimidated to ask the questions that they have, or may not know where to go to get information. Because of these potential barriers that students might face, Romero said that UMSU wanted to ensure that it offered these information sessions in a public manner, and tabled in University Centre to try to spread the word to students.
“We know that it is sometimes really hard for students to access correct and factual information,” she said.
“We wanted to make sure that we as a reputable source were putting out all this information for students if they so needed it.”
Located in room 201 of the Allen building, the OHRCM, which also helped to host the initiative, offers assistance to students who have concerns regarding conflict, harassment, discrimination and sexual violence.
When a student reaches out to the OHRCM either in-person or remotely, they will be able to discuss their concerns in a confidential manner and will receive information on policies and procedures, as well as advice on how to resolve issues informally and through a formal complaint.
Romero said that the OHRCM helped give presentations during the Know Your Rights campaign about complaint resolution and procedures for academic, behavioural and personal issues.
OHRCM student educator Reem Elmahi provided information to students while tabling and during sessions.
Elmahi’s job is to inform students about what the OHRCM is, and what supports and rights are available to them as students at the U of M. She added that she also helps plan educational workshops for student clubs to help teach about U of M policies and conflict management.
She explained that many students do not utilize available resources because they are not aware that they have access to them.
Elmahi emphasized the fact that students have the right to be treated in a respectful way during their time at the university. She also wants them to know that they do not have to suffer through poor treatment just because they are students.
She encourages people to visit the OHRCM website, and to take note of the office’s email and phone number so that they may better access available resources.
“Every situation is different,” she said.
“If they even feel a little bit like they’re being mistreated or they’re being harassed, the best solution is to just email and reach out. That way they can have a situation tailored to them, they can know their options.”