The role of a Human Rights Officer, particularly on a university campus, is diverse and ever-changing; Scott Thomas embraces that.
Scott is the Human Rights Officer here at Cape Breton University, leading CBU’s initiatives in being a respectful campus. In his role, Scott provides the campus community with programs relating to diversity, inclusion, consent, bystander intervention, sexual assault, harassment, human rights and more. Scott also assists the University in exploring and developing programs around intercultural competency as our campus community continues to expand and diversify.
It is important that everyone on campus is treated equally and having a trained Human Rights Officer on campus ensures that any issue of discrimination is dealt with in a fair and unbiased manner. “Human rights are an important part of our life. In fact, they are so much a part of our everyday life that we can often take them for granted without realizing it,” says Scott. Scott wants students, staff and faculty to know that they can chat with him confidentially at any time, no matter how big or small the issue may seem.
“I encourage any student to reach out,” says Scott. “This can be done through email, phone or in person. Remember, all inquiries are confidential and nothing is acted upon unless the individual feels comfortable about the process.”
Each year, Scott takes the lead on a Harm Reduction Week here on campus, featuring guest speakers on a variety of topics from campus safety and smoking, to bystander intervention and safe reporting. Harm Reduction is an approach aimed at reducing the risks and harmful effects of substances and behaviours, to improve the overall quality of life on campus.
In his role as Human Rights Officer, Scott’s goal is to create critical thinkers and prepare our community for challenging conversations that will improve us both as individuals and an institution.
Please see below for a message from Scott.
I would like take this opportunity to introduce myself to the CBU community and let them know how important their rights and their safety is to me and the rest of the community. You’ve probably recently heard about incidents of sexual assault on campuses across Canada and the world. I want to ensure you that at CBU we take every incident extremely seriously.
Our policies and procedures are designed to build a culture of respect and prevent sexual misconduct before it occurs, but if it does, we are committed to ensuring that Cape Breton University responds promptly and equitably, giving all parties the opportunity to be heard.
We understand the courage it takes to come forward in these circumstances. That is why we utilize trauma-informed approaches and provide confidential and non-confidential ways for parties to report their experiences. We also provide interim measures and remedies to address the safety and well-being of those involved, regardless of if they choose to make a formal report.
While statistics tell the numbers, they cannot begin to convey the full experience of those who have experienced sexual misconduct. And we understand that. We recognize the current national conversation may be deeply distressing to members of our community and encourage you to seek support,should you require it.
We believe that a respectful learning community is a shared responsibility, and are committed to working collaboratively to further foster a culture of respect and provide support for those who come forward. In order to change our University for good, it is essential that our actions match our values and that as members of the Caper community; we dare to care about one another.