The results of the first part of an investigation into the carding and handcuffing of a Black University of Ottawa student by Protection Services in June was released Tuesday. The report found the student faced racial discrimination and said the incident was influenced by both improper training and faulty procedures.
This is what’s happened since the incident first came to light.
June 11: Carding and handcuffing incident takes place
Jamal Boyce, a conflict studies and human rights student at the U of O and vice-president of academic affairs for the program’s student association, is stopped by Protection Service officers while skateboarding on campus. They ask him to stop, to which he complies.
The officers begin asking Boyce for identification but he’s unable to produce it since his wallet is in his office on campus. The officers handcuff and detain Boyce for over two hours under the Trespass to Property Act. The Ottawa Police Service is called to the scene and Boyce is released without a ticket or warning.
June 12: Boyce shares his experience on Twitter, more details emerge
Boyce posts a Twitter thread on the evening of June 12, which quickly goes viral. A video shows the officers following Boyce and repeatedly asking for identification.
“If you don’t stop walking off campus, I’m going to arrest you right now … for trespass to property,” an officer says in the video.
“I’m trespassing how?” Boyce says in the video. “I’m a student that pays a lot of money to go here … you’re actually making me feel really uncomfortable.”
Boyce says campus security then grabbed his arms and waist, hit his phone out of his hands and put him in handcuffs, where he was surrounded by five more security guards and “forced … to sit on the busiest street on campus as scores of my peers and strangers walked by.”
“This was an extremely humiliating experience that left me feeling helpless. This is not my first encounter with blatant racism,” Boyce says on Twitter. “But this wasn’t just humiliating, it was physical, mental, emotional violence. The experience let me know that black students are not members of the (U of O) ‘community.’ ”
June 13: Professor posts carding incident from 2017 to Twitter
A U of O professor and a PhD student, who are both people of colour, share their experience being carded by a Protection Services officer from 2017 on Twitter, which also goes viral.
A video shows a white campus safety officer asking medicine and law professor Amir Attaran’s student Brieanne Olibris for identification inside her office space, which is connected to Attaran’s.
According to Attaran, the security guard in the video entered his office without knocking and without permission and began asking for identification. When Attaran asked why, the officer said a 911 call was received from the office space, but Attaran had made no such call.
When Attaran asked Olibris next door if she had made the call she also said she hadn’t, but the officer began asking her for identification as well. The officer then cited university Policy 33, which governs security on campus, as a requirement for Olibris to show identification.
The policy says security is authorized to request identification from people on campus, but not necessarily demand it.
Olibris eventually showed the guard her student ID card and he left. In interviews with the Fulcrum, Olibris and Attaran say the incident highlights the racism, especially anti-Black racism, endemic in the university.
June 14: U of O responds, opens inquiry and looks to hire external investigator
U of O president Jacques Frémont holds a press conference in Tabaret Hall and announces Noël Badiou, director of the university’s human rights office, is reviewing the incident.
Frémont says the university is also hiring an external investigator to look into the incident and to examine whether larger systemic human rights issues exist on campus. The report will be made public and the investigator will provide recommendations to the university.
Frémont says the campus safety officers involved in Boyce’s detainment won’t face disciplinary action until the inquiry is concluded and was unable to answer whether officers receive anti-racism training.
June 14: U of O professors sign open letter to president
An open letter signed by 36 professors, including a handful from Carleton University, is released.
“We are deeply concerned about the traumatic impact of this incident on the student as well as the larger issues of anti-black racism and racial profiling at the (U of O) and in our wider community,” the professors write.
“We call on the University of Ottawa to protect Black, Indigenous and racialized students from racist violence on campus in sustained, visible and proactive ways.”
June 16: BIPOC caucus of the APUO release open letter with demands for action
The Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) caucus of the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa release an open letter condemning racism both at and within the U of O, writing the carding incident left them “horrified and appalled.”
“Racial profiling, carding and harassment of Black students has no place at the (U of O) and runs contrary to the university’s publicly declared commitment to equality, diversity and human rights.”
The caucus’s letter asks the university to condemn the incident and lists 10 concrete “steps to address systemic racism,” including apologizing publicly to Boyce, making counselling available to students and employees impacted, conducting an internal and external investigation through an independent party, and removing the security officers involved from their positions.
The caucus proposes consulting with BIPOC and LGBTQI2S+ people on their concerns and needs to feel welcome and safe on campus, making both anti-oppression and anti-racism training mandatory for security and all university personnel, and the amendment of Policy 33 to prohibit carding on campus.
Among the other steps listed are thoroughly reviewing the training and policies governing Protection Services along with previous complaints brought forward and making public campus security statistics on an ongoing basis.
The caucus asks Frémont to meet with them as soon as possible to discuss these steps.
June 17: University of Ottawa Students’ Union responds to incident
The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) meets with the university administration and later releases a statement on Facebook calling for action.
The union calls for a formal apology to Boyce and a heavy reforming or complete abolishment of Policy 33. They also propose an open forum for racialized students to come together and “share their opinions, feelings, and suggestions,” for reconciliation.
“We acknowledge that there is anti-Black racism present on our campus right now, we stand with (Boyce), and we stand with any other student who has experienced racism on this campus, whether it was a microaggression or something a lot larger,” former UOSU interim equity commissioner Arielle Lavalle tells the Fulcrum.
June 18: U of O hires human rights expert to lead investigation
The U of O hires former vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Esi Codjoe to head the independent investigation into the carding and handcuffing of Boyce.
Codjoe, of the Turnpenney Milne law firm, is asked to determine whether Policy 33 and the Trespass to Property Act were properly applied in Boyce’s case and in accordance with the law and human rights.
Codjoe will also examine the wider policies governing campus security to determine 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.”
June 20: U of O releases framework to address racism and discrimination on campus
The U of O unveils the details of a framework they’re introducing to address racism and discrimination on campus.
Frémont says the university will immediately conduct a review of section 8 of Policy 33 to gauge if it’s applied in accordance with individual rights. The framework will see the introduction of strengthened and updated cultural sensitivity training for campus security officers.
A complaints mechanism will be introduced as well, where both members of the community and the public will have a space to have their concerns handled “quickly, effectively, impartially and transparently,” Frémont said in a release.
Frémont says a “Presidents Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus” will also be struck “to provide advice on how to combat racism and promote diversity, acceptance and inclusivity across the uOttawa campus and within the uOttawa community.” Frémont says these measures will all be enacted this summer.
July 20: U of O student governments release open letter calling for change
Sixteen student governments at the U of O sign an open letter addressed to Frémont condemning the carding and handcuffing of Boyce, calling for change.
“Noting Jamal Koulmiye-Boyce’s integral role … in delivering academic and university-related resources to his peers in CHRA, we are appalled by the treatment towards a person who has dedicated his extracurricular involvement to bettering the university experiences of his peers,” the letter reads.
The groups say they welcome the university’s response so far but list eight further calls to action.
These include a public apology, a review of all carding policies on campus, making counselling immediately available to those impacted by the June 12 incident, and ensuring administrative support to the University of Ottawa Students’ Association (UOSU) and other student associations to establish resources to address campus racism and support BIPOC.
The letter also calls for the U of O to engage in a comprehensive consultation with the Black Student Leaders Association (BSLA), the BIPOC Caucus of the Association of Professors at the University of Ottawa and future UOSU-established student resources to hear their needs and concerns to then develop a comprehensive strategy to address anti-Black racism.
Sept. 4: U of O implements measures to address racism and discrimination on campus
The U of O announces the implementation of measures to combat racism and discrimination on campus.
They include new limits on the authority of Protection Services when requesting proof of identity, an updated system for filing a complaint against campus security, and the completion of unconscious bias training among officers, all informed by the Presidents Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus.
Under the interim directive for Policy 33, “identification must never be requested randomly and arbitrarily and should not be Protection Services’ routine practice.”
Security must explain their reason for requesting identity unless doing so would compromise a person’s safety or an ongoing investigation, or if doing so would violate a law. They must also inform a person that they can choose not to produce identification unless a person’s safety may be compromised.
Security officials are also required to provide their direct contact information along with the contact information for Protection Services when responding to an incident.
The university updates its system for filing a complaint against campus security, allowing for direct contact with the director of Protection Services. Complainants are also given the option to contact the U of O’s human rights office and the branch of the Ministry of the Solicitor General governing the Private Security and Investigative Services Act.
The 12 interim members of the President’s Advisory Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus are also announced.
Sept. 9: Student leaders find gaps in anti-racism, anti-discrimination measures
Student leaders at the U of O say they welcome the implementation of the anti-racism measures but point to gaps and shortfalls in the university’s response.
Dilaye Desta, the BSLA’s director of community engagement, says the measures introduced by the university come years after people began calling for change and only scratch the “surface level.”
“We’ve had many years of hearing different experiences of other Black students who have been carded like Jamal or who have been unfairly treated, whether it’s by campus security or police in Ottawa,” Desta says. “It was disheartening to know that things haven’t changed … it seems as though we weren’t heard.”
“This shouldn’t be a new policy implemented in the year 2019,” she says of the unconscious bias training. “This should have been here decades ago. This shouldn’t be a correctional issue.”
Jason Seguya, the student life commissioner of the UOSU, adds the training shouldn’t be limited to just Protection Services, but a requirement for anyone employed by the university.
Both Seguya and Desta say they would have liked to see more involvement of student voices in the process of developing these measures, criticizing the lack of transparency
Seguya says he and other members of student governments tried to attend some of the meetings of the President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus but were “denied access to those spaces.” Seguya also tried to obtain minutes from the meetings but says he was told they weren’t available.
“It became very, very difficult to find out what steps were being taken or what measures were being made on behalf of the whole community,” Seguya says.
Sept. 12: Frémont responds to the incident in an interview with the Fulcrum
Frémont says there’s still more work to be done and calls the four measures introduced “a first step” and “a sort of patch on an immediate crisis.”
“We we will follow a medium- and long-term agenda and we will stabilize the committee, we will certainly go and meet with the representatives of minority groups, all sorts of minorities, not just racialized communities, to hear what they have to say, to hear about the microaggressions, to hear about what could be done to make the university a better place,” he says.
Sept. 13: First report from investigation is completed
Codjoe’s first report, focusing on whether Protection Services officers acted in accordance with the law and human rights in their interaction with Boyce, is completed. It won’t be released for another 18 days.
Sept. 19: UOSU interim equity commissioner calls for further action
UOSU equity commissioner Judy El-Mohtadi takes aim at the four anti-racism measures introduced by the university in an interview with the Fulcrum.
“There’s just so much more they need to be doing to address this particular incident but also all the incidents that have come before and the constant cycle of discrimination that happens on campus,” she says.
El-Mohtadi calls for a stricter interpretation of Policy 33, yearly and public anti-bias training for the entire university community, and for accountability measures to be put in place.
Sept. 20: September carding incident comes to light
A Black student says he was carded and pushed by a security guard inside his own residence building on Sept. 14, just over two weeks after the university changed its policy surrounding proof of identification following another carding incident this summer.
Wiliston Mason, a second-year education student at the U of O who works as a community advisor (CA) in the Annex residence on Laurier Avenue, says he was returning home at around 10 p.m. when the incident took place.
Mason says he tapped his key card to enter his building but the security officer behind the desk demanded identification “to verify that you live here.” Mason says a white man entered the building moments before him, without tapping his key card, and was not stopped.
The security officer in question is now banned from campus and is employed by a private firm under contract with the university, the university says.
Oct. 1: First report from investigation is released
Eighteen days after Codjoe’s report is completed, it’s released to the public at a press conference with U of O president Frémont. The report finds Boyce faced racial discrimination and adds the incident was influenced by both improper training and faulty procedures.
“Part of the reason why the … incident occurred is because the (Protection Services officers) have inadequate training on diversity issues,” Codjoe writes. “It is more likely than not that the (officers) are not receiving any nuanced, or up to date training on issues pertaining to race, including racial discrimination.”
Without saying his name, Frémont publicly apologizes to Boyce for the first time.
“I am deeply sorry for the way you were treated and for the humiliation you experienced,” Frémont said. “It was unacceptable and wrong.”
Frémont won’t say if the officers involved in the incident are still employed by the university. “The issue is related to labour relations and we are not in a position to release any information concerning that,” he says.
Oct. 7: Campus groups demand further action, say ‘U of O must do better’
Groups from across the U of O campus release an open letter to president Jacques Frémont saying the administration “fails to address systemic racism in a meaningful way” and listing eight demands for action.
The signing groups include the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU), the Black Student Leaders Association (BSLA), the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), CUPE 2626 (which represents teaching and research assistants), Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), and 16 student governments.
The organizations say they are “appalled and angered” by the carding of two Black students on campus in the past four months. The letter is backed by 41 signatures, including both students who were carded.
The letter is later signed by the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa, the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa, the Graduate Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa, and the University of Ottawa Muslim Students Association, according to the UOSU.
Oct. 8: Campus groups hold press conference to push for action, say administration ‘fails to address systemic racism in a meaningful way’
U of O student organizations hold a press conference outside Tabaret Hall to push for more action from the administration, following the release of the open letter.
Koulmiye-Boyce and Mason also signed the letter and both attend.
The groups encourage students at the U of O and from campuses across the country to use #CampusRacism on social media to shed light on their experiences.
“If you face racism it can come in so many different ways and so often we can be forced to deal with that in silence and hold that in,” said Koulmiye-Boyce. “What this hashtag really does is it creates a community and a space for us to not only have our experiences heard but to have them validated.”
Oct. 8: U of O responds to open letter
In an emailed statement to the Fulcrum, the U of O say they received the open letter and “welcomes student engagement on this very important issue.”
The statement says the administration has invited Koulmiye-Boyce and the “Black Law Students’ Association” to join the university’s anti-discrimination committee. The administration has also met with the UOSU “to discuss best ways forward,” according to the statement.
The statement says the report from the second part of the investigation into the carding of Koulmiye-Boyce, which will examine the impacts of Protection Services’ policies and procedures on racialized people, will be made public and hopefully released in November.
“The university is committed to ensure that everyone feels safe and welcomed on uOttawa campus,” the statement reads.” Students can play a big role in achieving this objective.”
Oct. 16: Professors and librarians release open letter
With an open letter to Frémont, over 100 professors and librarians join the chorus of voices demanding further action from the administration.
“As teachers, we have a commitment to upholding a learning environment where all students feel safe, supported, and able to challenge themselves in the classroom,” the letter reads. “It would therefore be a violation of this duty for us to not add our voices to those of students calling for an end to anti-Black racism on campus.”
Oct. 16: UOSU launches public petition
“The UOSU, along with other groups who have been involved in this movement, has created a public petition in order to demonstrate the need for immediate action in the fight against systemic racism,” the UOSU says in a Facebook post.
Nov. 12: U of O adds more students to anti-discrimination committee, announces town hall on racism
The U of O administration adds eight student representatives to the president’s anti-discrimination committee and also announces a town hall on racism, set to be held the following week.
Nov. 20: U of O hosts town hall on racism
More than 30 Black students and faculty members speak openly about the discriminatory incidents they have experienced on campus during the town hall on anti-Black racism, with many proposing a number of measures to begin combatting the issue. Many say more Black professors are needed, along with curriculum changes and data collection.
This article will continue to be updated as this story progresses.