U of O students want broad, proactive anti-racism plan
Students planning town hall for November
University of Ottawa student leaders say they don't want the school to focus solely on campus security as it works to address racism.
A group of four students emerged Thursday evening from an hour-long meeting with Jacques Frémont, the university president, saying the meeting had been positive.
Jamal Koulmiye-Boyce, who was carded and handcuffed June, said the discussions are the beginning of a broader cultural change that will take a long time.
"All we've begun is the dialogue to move in the right directions," he said. "My safety on campus will always be questioned and I don't expect that to be changed within the next few years."
He said he wants a system in place so an individual acting in a discriminatory way would be caught before someone ends up handcuffed on the street in the same way he was.
Remove onus from students
Koulmiye-Boyce said the issue is bigger than just students' relationship to protective services and he would like to see the university collect race-based data.
"Even just the idea of speaking out means you have to put your life on blast and you have to put your humanity up for debate [by] the community," he said.
"By collecting this data, it takes the onus off the students to call on this issues and really puts the responsibility on the university to make change with the information presented to them."
The meeting included Wiliston Mason, who had been carded in his student residence in September, as well as representatives from the Black Student Leaders Association, the University of Ottawa Student Union and the Conflict Studies and Human Rights Association.
Town hall on broader racism issues
The participants said students will be consulted on the permanent membership of the president's Committee for a Discrimmination-Free Campus, which was created after the June carding incident.
They also said they plan on holding a town hall in November so students can share their personal experiences.
"I want other students who have had similar issues or who may unfortunately encounter racism on campus to know that they will have their voices heard," said Dilaye Desta from the Black Student Leaders Association.
Jayde Lavoie, president of the Conflict Studies and Human Rights Association, said student groups want to look at how racial discrimination creates barriers within the curriculum and in other facets of campus life.
"We want to make sure that this issue isn't just reduced to one that is between protection and students," Lavoie said.
"It's an issue of race as a barrier to students receiving proper education."
- U of O's response to carding not enough, students say
- U of O faculty backs students demanding action on racism
In a statement, the University of Ottawa said it welcomes the opportunity to discuss race and discrimination with students.
It said dialogue is an important measure toward making students feel safe and welcome on campus.
It said the second part of the report on carding will be completed in November.