What is the Office for Mediation and Reporting (OMR)?
McGill’s OMR was created in response to a review of the university’s Policy on Harassment and Discrimination, which was approved by McGill’s Senate and Board of Governors in May 2021. The OMR oversees all formal reports of harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence at the university and aims to be a central hub for information.
How does the OMR change the process of reporting harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence at McGill from the previous process?
OMR Associate Director Sinead Hunt explained in a roundtable meeting with The McGill Tribune that the office’s goal is to be a central hub for both information and reporting. Hunt previously oversaw reports filed under the Policy on Harassment and Discrimination and Policy Against Sexual Violence in her role as Senior Equity and Inclusion Advisor. She described the OMR’s aim to make the reporting process more accessible by centralizing information and resources regarding the two related policies. It also strives to strengthen the university’s response to reports.
“The McGill community is very large,” Hunt said. “So the idea is to create a central site to enhance communications about where McGill university community members can go to obtain information about these policies, and where they can go to file a formal report. [W]ith this central site we [also] hope to strengthen our capacity and resources around the resolution of formal reports.”
How does one make use of the OMR?
Once a member of the McGill community contacts the OMR, the first step is a consultation where OMR staff help the individual decide if they would like to file a formal report.
“There is a consultation where we provide information, and we are very clear that a consultation itself is not a formal report, [….] that decision rests with the person themselves,” Hunt said. “If they do go ahead and file a report, as I said, we do an initial review. And then it can either go to a mediation or investigation process.”
If the individual chooses mediation, all involved parties must consent to the process. If all parties are on board, a trained mediator facilitates discussion and aims to guide the parties to arrive at a resolution. A formal investigation is when an assessor, either employed by the OMR or a third party, formally looks into a situation of alleged wrongdoing and writes a report. The report is sent off to the parties involved and the provost, who communicates their final decision to the parties within 15 days.
What do students think about the OMR?
Despite the OMR’s outreach efforts, Léonie Coke, U2 Arts, had not heard of the OMR when they spoke to The McGill Tribune. Coke feels that even students who know about OMR might be hesitant to use it because of the university’s poor reputation and history of not properly addressing sexual misconduct.
“[I have heard of] situations where students […] have to go to school with their sexual predators, whether they’re students in their classes or teachers,” Coke said. “I think [McGill’s response is] really not sufficient and it has not been sufficient. I do not think students will be inclined to use this resource because of the way McGill has been handling sexual harassment […] and punishing sexual offenders or predators.”
Sexual violence support services are available through McGill’s Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education (OSVRSE) and the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS).