Windsor

UWindsor Law faculty announces steps to tackle anti-Black racism

As Black students and faculty at the University of Windsor continue to observe a day of mourning, the school's Law faculty released a list of actions addressing anti-Black racism. 

Community wants to see university take more charge

University of Windsor student Jordan Afolabi says some of the suggestions he had are missing from the Faculty of Law's actions. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

As Black students and faculty at the University of Windsor continue to observe a day of mourning, the school's law faculty has released a list of actions addressing anti-Black racism. 

Yet, the list has left some professors and students feeling frustrated. 

The actions come after a series of anti-Black racism incidents on campus, including multiple professors using the N-word during courses and threats of violence against Black students as well a number of other ethnic and religious groups by an off-campus fraternity.

On Monday, the faculty announced the steps it plans to take to address anti-Black racism, some of these include:

  • Facilitating an "independent review" of anti-Black racism at the university's law school. 
  • Hiring a clinical therapist to support Black-identifying students. 
  • Bringing in a group of lawyers to support students who received threatening messages, specifically after private messages within the Delta Chi fraternity were exposed.
  • More scholarships to support Black and racialized communities. 
  • Expand the range and coverage of anti-Black racism training for staff. 

It also listed some actions it has already taken, which include:

  • Hiring a careers counsellor. 
  • Training Windsor law faculty and staff on anti-Black racism. 

UWindsor law student Jordan Afolabi said he doesn't think the actions go far enough and some of the steps he would have liked to see taken are missing.

These involve an anti-Black racism policy or "something that acknowledges the nuances that are necessary to address non-academic misconduct that's related or fuelled by anti-Black racism." 

"It's frustration, right? The problem's not solved. It's multiple people chipping away at the problem with their own approach and segmented areas," he said. 

While he also cited the need for collection of racialized students statistics, the university as a whole has in fact previously announced plans to implement a framework for race-based data collection as part of its overall priorities on tackling anti-Black racism. 

Afolabi added that he still receives messages from Black UWindsor students who are panicked and fearful for their safety on campus. 

At the end of last year, the university apologized to Afolabi after a review showed his assault complaint had been mishandled. He says that race was a factor.

First steps

Dean of UWindsor's Law faculty Christopher Waters told CBC News that the process is ongoing and doesn't end with the list of actions. 

"This is an iterative process, it's sort of an ongoing communication, dialogue," Waters said. "There's no moment of saying, 'we're finished with combating anti-Black racism.'"

The University of Windsor. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The Faculty of Law said it's receiving feedback from all students and faculty and that more action will be taken going forward, by themselves and the entire university. 

"This is a University of Windsor problem. It's a Windsor problem. It's an Ontario problem. A Canada problem. And so every institution, every department, faculty, every organization in Canada needs to be having a hard look at itself. And we're trying to do that," Waters said. 

Day of mourning continues

Meanwhile, the group, Researchers, Academics, Advocates of Colour for Equity in Solidarity (RAACES) continues to observe a day of mourning over anti-Black racism, which consists of participating faculty to not answer emails or messages as a sign of protest.

This is the second day of mourning the group has observed, the first began on Dec. 7. The group will continue to observe the day on the first Monday of every month. 

RAACES told CBC News that it is happy with the steps being taken by the Faculty of Law, but that more works needs to be done from university leadership. 

"There's always room for more and I'm especially concerned, and RAACES is also, to [not] see Black leadership at the top. And so that's an area where I think there's room for a lot of improvement across the board," said Richard Douglass-Chin, a professor who is a member of RAACES. 

Richard Douglass-Chin, a tenured faculty member in the Department of English Languages and Literature at the university and a member of RAACES, says there's always room for more. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

Last year, the university did release a list of actions it would be taking to address the problem, some of which include: 

  • 12 Black faculty will be hired by the 2023 hiring cycle. 
  • The Anti-Black Racism Task Force is underway and will be getting direct input and feedback from the university community through the next term. A report will be issued by them and recommendations will be actively implemented in Fall 2021. 
  • More than $150,000 in grants will be available for Black students, faculty and staff to support changes to curriculum and teaching, as well as research, leadership and professional development applications.

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.

(CBC)

 

Corrections

  • This story has been updated to reflect that the University of Windsor has previously announced plans to implement race-based student data collection.
    Jan 20, 2021 12:58 PM ET

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