'Talk is not enough:' UWindsor Anti-Black Racism task force releases recommendations for school

The University of Windsor's Anti-Black Racism Task Force has released a report outlining 40 recommendations for the institution to review and implement in order to better protect Black students on campus. 

Report lists 40 recommendations for the university to review

The University of Windsor has dealt with several incidents of anti-Black racism on its campus in recent years. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The University of Windsor's Anti-Black Racism Task Force has released a report outlining 40 recommendations for the institution to review and implement in order to better protect Black students on campus. 

The 54-page document released Monday comes after five anti-Black racism investigations have taken place at the university over the last two decades, according to the report. In particular, it comes nearly three years after an incident with law student Jordan Afolabi that saw him banned from campus.

The university later privately apologized to Afolabi after a review found it mishandled his assault complaint. 

The report also follows a recent incident with fraternity Delta Chi. The fraternity was banned and shut down after racist and homophobic messages from the group's members surfaced online.

Despite reports from incidents such as these, the task force writes that, "Precious little has been accomplished in response to these reports. Black faculty, staff and students still do not feel safe or protected. They continue to endure blatant racism, microaggressions, hyper surveillance, exclusion and other dehumanizing behaviour." 

...unhealthy, unwelcoming, anti-Black and harmful to Black students.- UWindsor Anti-Black Racism Task Force on school's athletics department culture

The report continued to say that, "The university has said the right things about ending anti-Black racism. But talk is not enough — not this time." 

In the past, students and faculty have criticized the university for making apologies but not taking enough concrete action to tackle racism.

"I think one of the most important contributions of this report is that it brings into conversation the reality of white privilege and racial privileges within the institutional fabric," said Natalie Delia Deckard, assistant professor and member of the school's Anti-Black Racism Task Force.

In response to the report, University of Windsor president Robert Gordon said in a statement Monday that "we fully support the recommendations [the task force] brought forward."

"We know we have much more to do. We need to continue to listen, to learn and to implement changes that will have a lasting, positive impact," the statement continues to read. 

Recommendations seek safe Black spaces, race-based data collection

The 40 recommendations deal with 10 separate areas across the university, including restructuring the office of human rights, equity and accessibility, creating black-centric inclusivity expectations and a safe space for black students, along with performing an equity audit of Lancer Athletics. 

Some of the recommendations listed include: 

  • Consequences for racist behaviour. 
  • Establishing an Office of Black Students' Access and Inclusion on campus. 
  • A review of the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility. 
  • Collecting race-based data, specifically on student experience and hiring, promotion and tenure of staff.
  • Implement a Black Studies program.
  • Create a student athlete complaint process. 

The report points out that the Black students the task force spoke with said the Office of Student Experience "has not served them well and is not set up to do so. A lack of accountability is perceived to be a significant issue." It recommends that there be increased accountability measures for the office. 

Student lead campus groups and associations have called for greater action from the University of Windsor to eliminate anti-Black racism on campus.
The university says a task force implementation group will be created early next year and it will develop an action plan by the end of January. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The report also recommends that student policies at the university be reviewed as even though they are "ostensibly race-neutral," they appear to be "substantially racist in its intent and, additionally, in [their] execution." 

Deckard said she's "particularly excited" about the university addressing student policies that disproportionately impact the Black student body. 

"The ability to readdress student policy means that we'll be able to thoughtfully, intentionally and purposefully mitigate these things that we've been pretending not to see," she said. 

Natalie Delia Deckard, an assistant professor at the university and member of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force, says she's particularly eager to see the school revise student policies. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

'Culture of fear' in school's athletics department: report 

Under the 10th theme, the task force notes that the school's athletics department has "ongoing" anti-Black racism issues and therefore needs an equity audit. 

After consulting with current and former athletes, it says the current culture is "unhealthy, unwelcoming, anti-Black and harmful to Black students." 

The task force's first recommendation is to review hiring practices for coaching staff and its second suggests implementing a "safe student athlete complaint process" as a "culture of fear" lingers around the formal complaint process against coaches. 

In general, the task force said student complaints were not taken into account, but specifically those citing anti-Black racism. As a result, it said a "less intimidating" complaint process should be implemented. 

The task force also emphasizes that while Black student athletes "are the most visible student ambassadors at the University of Windsor ... reports indicate that they are not treated nor supported as such." 

The University of Windsor's Anti-Black Racism Task Force was created in 2020.

Next month, the university said its task force report implementation team will be created to review and take action on the recommendations. By Jan. 31, the university said a plan of action will be completed. 

In Gordon's statement, he said the university will update the community on the implementation team's progress so that the process is "transparent" and "accountable." 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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