The University of Ottawa has released a strategy to address racism and discrimination on campus, spurred by the carding and handcuffing of a Black student for over two hours by campus security on June 12.
Many on campus saw the treatment of Jamal Boyce, a conflict studies and human rights student at the U of O and vice-president of academic and university affairs of the program’s students’ association, as a microcosm of systemic racism, especially anti-Black racism, on campus and called the university to act.
Others have since come forward sharing their negative experiences with campus security.
The university previously announced on June 19 that Esi Codjoe, former vice chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, will lead an inquiry into Boyce’s interaction with campus security.
She’s tasked with determined whether Policy 33 — which governs the power and role of security on campus — 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 look at the implications of these policies on campus as a whole. Her final report will be made public, in accordance with privacy laws.
In addition to this measure, U of O president and vice-chancellor Jacques 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. This section gives campus security the power to request proof of identity from people on campus.
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.” He adds the members of this committee will be announced soon.
Frémont says these measures will all be enacted this summer.