The University of Ottawa has taken positive steps to transform its policies but must continue to work with its community to address racism and discrimination on campus, says a report released today that examines the impact of university policies on racialized community members.
In the report, independent investigator Esi Codjoe concludes that while the University has “begun some good work,” it must continue to consult with its communities and transform its policies and procedures. She makes three recommendations that if adopted, could better support Protection Service Officers in their understanding and respect for the community that they serve.
The investigator’s mandate was to review the University’s Protection Services policies and procedures and to advise of their potential impact on racialized members of the uOttawa community. The report was commissioned following a June 2019 incident involving a student and a Protection Services officer.
A first report, released in October 2019, addressed the incident itself and determined that race and the University’s outdated operational procedures and inadequate training were factors. Following the release of the first report, the President offered a public apology to the student involved in the incident.
In this second mandated report, Codjoe identifies three issues: the lack of clear definitions for key terms used in the application of Protection Services’ related policies and procedures on campus; the potential over-representation of racialized members of the University community in Protection Services’ interactions with the individuals on campus; and, the lack of guidance in the enforcement of Ontario’s Trepass of Property Act (TPA), one of the key statutes Protection Services rely on to exercise their functions.
In light of these findings, she makes three recommendations:
- The University should begin collecting race-based data for its student population to help enhance the University’s knowledge about its community and the services they require;
- The University should build on the changes it has already made to its Policy 33 that governs safety and security on campus;
- The University should provide ongoing training to its Protection Services Officers on a variety of topics related to marginalized communities.
The President of the University, Jacques Frémont, accepted the conclusion of the report and committed the University to continuing efforts to address racism and discrimination.
Immediately after the June incident, the University took steps to address racism and discrimination on its campus. A global approach to combat racism on campus was adopted, including public consultations with members of the uOttawa’s racialized communities and the establishment of the President’s Advisory Committee for a Racism-free Campus. That committee is developing an ambitious action plan that outlines strategies and goals to eliminate racism on the uOttawa campus.
To read the report, click here.