Global Approach Against Racism on Campus
The University of Ottawa is a diverse community of approximately 50,000 people. It is in a very real sense a microcosm of Canada, with Canada’s strengths, and its weaknesses. Those strengths include a profound commitment to human rights and a national culture that is tolerant of difference and that – for the most part – celebrates diversity.
Allegations of racism, racial profiling and harassment arose as a result of an incident involving an incident on campus involving a student and a Protection Services Officer.
In reaction to this incident, University of Ottawa President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont announced a wide-ranging approach to address racism and discrimination on campus.
The University of Ottawa has hired an external, independent investigator to examine an incident last week involving a student and a protection services officer. Allegations of racism, racial profiling and harassment arose as a result of the incident.
Esi Codjoe from the Toronto firm, Turnpenney Milne LLP, will lead the investigation. She has been asked to move as quickly as is compatible with the need to ensure a full and rigorous examination requires. This report will be made public, while respecting the appropriate privacy laws.
Mandate of the external investigator:
- Investigate the incident that took place on Wednesday June 12, 2019 involving a University of Ottawa student and the University of Ottawa Protection Services.
- Make determinations of fact as to whether Policy 33 – Security and the Trespass to Property Act or any applicable other regulation were appropriately applied during this incident in accordance with the law, human rights and best practices in the sector.
- Review the University of Ottawa’s policies/procedures relating to Protection Services (notably Policy 33 - Security) and advise as to whether they are up to date and void of negative systemic impacts on any of our community members who belong to historically disadvantaged groups and specifically racialized community members.
- Review the application of these policies/procedures (notably Policy 33 – Security) and advise as to whether there are any specific and/or systemic negative impacts on any of our community members, who belong to historically disadvantaged groups and specifically racialized community members.
- Review the application of the Trespass to Property Act and advise as to whether there are any specific and/or systemic negative impacts on any of our community members, who belong to historically disadvantaged groups and specifically racialized community members.
- Issue any recommendations relevant to ensure that the campus fully respects the human rights of all members of the community and visitors to the campus.
Interim Measures to combat racial discrimination
In addition to the investigator’s report, the President has also announced four interim measures to combat racial discrimination and to promote acceptance and inclusion on our campus and within our community. These measures will be implemented and enacted this summer with the aim of ensuring our campus is a safer and more inclusive and accepting place for all when the fall semester begins.
Review of Policy 33
An immediate review of the interpretation and application of University Policy 33 will be undertaken, and in particular of section 8, which governs Protection Services’ authority to request proof of identity from people on campus.
Strengthened intercultural training program for Protection Services
Protection Services employees will be provided with a strengthened and updated program of cultural training. This will ensure that all employees are familiar with best practices in this vital area and are well equipped for their interactions with members of the public.
A reliable and effective complaints mechanism that will offer a safe space for members of the university community and the public to raise complaints about their interactions with the University and to ensure that complaints are handled quickly, effectively, impartially and transparently.
President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus
The President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus will be created and will advise the president on how to combat racism and promote tolerance and inclusivity across the uOttawa campus and within the uOttawa community.
Specifically, the committee will advise the President on how to:
- Cultivate a truly inclusive and tolerant campus culture by engaging with and educating the uOttawa community
- Hear directly from critical voices rooted in diverse communities and leading experts in anti-discrimination
- Remove systemic barriers facing racialized members of the uOttawa community
- Develop and implement an effective complaints mechanism for victims of discrimination on campus
The members of the committee will be announced shortly.