More black profs needed at U of O, students say
Dozens of students attended town hall with school's president
Some of the dozens of students at a town hall on racism on the University of Ottawa's campus said there aren't enough black professors there to make black students feel welcome.
"I have professors tell me I'm too dark to sit in the back and they can't see me," said Jade Sullivan, 21, the first student to speak to the crowd at the Wednesday night event that included president Jacques Frémont.
After her remarks, Sullivan told CBC she hasn't had a single black professor during her time at the university.
"I've been taking five to six courses every semester for three years … That says a lot. And I'm in two different faculties, so I should have at least run into one."
Student groups and university educators have been urging the school to take a tougher stance on racism, following two high-profile incidents this year where black students were treated unfairly on campus.
- Race played role in U of O carding incident, investigator finds
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Luciana White, 20, said she's happy to see the university president holding town hall events, but there is still more work to be done.
"When I walk the streets of this university, I see a lot of black students … and the black community is producing a lot of academics," she said.
"So the onus is not on the black community to create more academics, because that is happening. I truly believe the onus is on the administration."
The town hall is part of Frémont's initiative called the Presidential Advisory Committee for a Discrimination-Free Campus.
The committee will take major themes from it and other town halls, then offer recommendations.
Other students who spoke at the event shared stories of racism and discrimination they have experienced on campus.
Dami Mafe, a fourth-year international student from Nigeria, said she feels the university doesn't do enough to help black students thrive.
"It's very demoralizing. [In Ottawa], I'm black. Here, because of the colour of my skin, I'm treated differently … Back home, I'm just a woman … but then here it's like, I'm just black."