University of Ottawa President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont today confirmed the implementation of several measures to address allegations of racism, racial profiling and harassment that arose as a result of a June incident involving a student and Protection Services officers.
The University announced its intention to implement the four measures following the incident last June, as part of a wide-ranging approach aimed at combating racial discrimination and promoting acceptance and inclusion on the campus and within the University community. Today President Frémont announced that all four measures have been implemented in time for the fall semester, which begins this week.
The measures include:
New identification directives
The University thoroughly reviewed the interpretation and application of University Policy 33, Section 8, and Protection Services’ authority to request proof of identity from people on campus. Protection officers must now follow new directives that set out when and how they should and must request identification. The directives aim at striking a proper balance between due respect of individual rights and the officers’ duty to protect and ensure safety and security on campus.
Enhanced training for protection officers
All protection officers active on campus followed an unconscious bias training and participated in an equity, diversity and inclusion session, which included a discussion about social identity, visible and invisible differences, power, privilege and the intersectionality of these. The conclusion of the sessions focused on the importance of understanding equity, diversity and inclusion and how these are key values for a safer, more inclusive and respectful campus. The University believes such training will better equip its security personnel in their interactions with members of the uOttawa community and members of the public.
Updated complaint mechanism
An updated complaint mechanism is now available for those who believe they have been unfairly treated by uOttawa’s Protection Services. This mechanism allows individuals to contact directly the Director of Protection Services to present their grievances. Members of the community are reminded that the University’s Human Rights Office may also receive complaints that concern questions of discrimination and harassment. And any person may also file a complaint with the Private Security and Investigative Services Branch within the Ministry of the Solicitor General, if they have reason to believe that a licensee has failed to comply with the Private Security and Investigative Services Act or its regulations.
President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus
A President’s Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus has been put in place to provide advice to the President on ways to combat racism and promote diversity, acceptance and inclusivity across the uOttawa campus and within the uOttawa community. The committee met during the summer and provided guidance on the implementation of these measures. Members of the committee were appointed on an interim basis due to the pressing need to act as a result of the June incident. A permanent committee membership will be announced shortly.
Following the incident, the University also appointed an independent investigator, Esi Codjoe, to look into the incident.
The investigator’s mandate is to determine whether the incident was dealt with in accordance with the law, human rights or best practices in the sector. In addition, she will review the university’s Protection Services policies and procedures and their application more broadly, in light of the Trespass to Property Act, and report on their impacts on racialized community members.
The investigator is in the process of completing a report on the first phase of her mandate. The University remains committed to making that report public, while respecting relevant privacy laws.