As an institution of higher learning, the University of Windsor has a duty to its faculty, staff, students and broader community to strive to be an agent of effective change. We have failed to fully address the pervasive racial injustice that manifests in society and on our campus. The year 2020 represents a significant shift in the global conversation around Anti-Black Racism. Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples in Canada continue to face oppression, and the work of eradicating Anti-Black Racism and oppression in all its forms on our campus is critical. The University of Windsor is affirming its commitment to challenge and dismantle systemic oppression. A truly inclusive future for the University of Windsor begins with our actions and choices today. We invite all members of the campus community to engage in this important work.
December 7, 2020
To all students, faculty, and staff,
Over the weekend, several faculty members and students received racist, threatening, and hateful anonymous messages, and they are extremely disturbing to read. The University condemns the language and intent behind these messages in the strongest possible terms.
We have forwarded the emails to our Campus Community Police and the Windsor Police Service, who are collaborating on an investigation into this matter. Those found responsible will be subject to serious disciplinary action and potential criminal charges. This attempt to spread hate has no place at the University of Windsor.
If you have any information related to these messages or the person or persons who sent them, please contact Matthew D’Asti at CCP - Campus Community Police email@example.com
It is deeply troubling that so many members of our community have continued to deal with this kind of oppression, including the anti-Black racism, Anti-Semitism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination included in these messages. We recognize the toll this has taken and the fear it has created among our community—and it must stop. It is absolutely imperative that all students, as well as members of faculty and staff, feel confident in a safe and inclusive environment at the University of Windsor, and that continues to be our priority.
To any member of our community who is feeling scared or uncomfortable: Please know you are not alone. I encourage you to reach out to Student Counselling Services at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students can also access confidential counselling by licensed counsellors through MySSP 24/7 via phone or text. Students can request a Black counsellor from either service. Faculty and staff can access confidential support through the Employee and Family Assistance Program, which offers professional and confidential counselling and information services.
Right now, we are focused on identifying the source of these messages so that we can pursue the appropriate action and work with law enforcement to press charges against the person or persons responsible.
We will provide an update as this investigation proceeds. Thank you.
Robert Gordon, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor
University of Windsor
November 26, 2020
On Wednesday evening I received an email accompanied by messages allegedly exchanged by various members of the Delta Chi fraternity.
Many of the messages shared in this note are disturbing, unacceptable, and entirely incongruent with the values of our school and the work we are doing to create a more inclusive and equitable community at the University of Windsor.
I acknowledge and am very sorry for the pain this language has caused for our students, faculty, and staff. As President, I take responsibility for the progress we need to make to ensure that our campus protects the emotional, physical, and psychological safety of everyone in our community. We will be immediately launching an investigation into this matter.
Greek Letter Organizations like Delta Chi do not have a formal relationship with the University of Windsor. Nor are they recognized by the University’s Student Association. Like many off-campus organizations, they are permitted to book space on campus for meetings and activities. The University will be immediately suspending any opportunities for this organization to engage with University activities, pending the investigation of these matters. The University has contacted the US-based leadership of Delta Chi to ensure this matter is handled appropriately and promptly. We have also forwarded this matter to Windsor Police Services.
The University of Windsor is focused on addressing manifestations of anti-Black Racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination across our institution. To our students and staff: We hear you and we recognize this work is ongoing and nowhere near done.
Our Anti-Black Racism Task Force started its work today and is beginning public consultation with students, faculty, and other members of our community. Among other actions, we have also undertaken a third-party review of student disciplinary processes, led by former University Secretary and General Counsel at York University, Harriet Lewis. We appreciate the contributions of staff, students, and faculty in deciding on these and other actions, and we anticipate the completion of Lewis’s review this winter.
All this work is part of a much larger process underway across the University of Windsor, work that I know is essential to rebuilding the trust of our community. That work has already begun but we have much, much more to do before we can move forward as an organization.
For now, I want to thank our students, faculty, and staff for bringing this to our attention and for their ongoing work to make our campus safer and more equitable. We know this is work that Black faculty, staff, and students should not have to undertake, and apologize again for the distress this incident has caused. We will work together to root out racism and discrimination in all its forms.
I look forward to providing you with an update in the coming days.
Dr. Rob Gordon,
President and Vice-Chancellor
November 4, 2020
Last week, two instructors used anti-Black language (the n-word) as part of their class. We want to thank the students, staff, faculty and community members for speaking out and bringing this to our attention. We understand and acknowledge that this difficult and draining work should not be required in order for anyone to work, learn, and live in an equitable, safe, and respectful community.
The University recognizes the pain, trauma, and violence associated with this word, and the extent to which it is rooted in enslavement, oppression, and colonialism. The University is committed to working with the entire campus community to listen and learn; to develop clear understandings of the history, impact, and implications of using this word. The President has also reached out to the Windsor University Faculty Association to explore a plan to work on these challenges collectively. We need to work towards consensus about structures, procedures, and training that will enable us to develop the minds of students and meet our obligations as an academic institution without causing pain and trauma to members of our community. This process must respect the rights and freedoms that are integral to scholarly practice: it must also uphold our responsibilities as teachers and scholarly colleagues to create safe and respectful spaces for students, learning, and knowledge creation.
Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity, and to feel that they belong. These experiences clearly did not meet that standard. We are sorry for these incidents and for the harm they have caused and continue to cause. However, we are aware that an apology – by an individual professor or by the institution -- is insufficient. An apology does not redress the impact on Black members of this community, or the erosion of confidence and faith that result from multiple incidents of this nature. These incidents are one of many ways that we, as members of this community, have perpetuated systemic anti-Black racism and its impact on our students and colleagues, and we must work together to change these patterns.
We are working to address these incidents and the patterns of oppression that produce them. Both of the instructors involved have apologized and are working with their department head to establish plans for moving forward. They are cognizant of the harm that they have caused and know that they, like the institution, must take steps to try to repair that harm and to make sure that this type of incident does not happen in the future. Students in the courses should also be aware that they always have recourse to a number of institutional processes to support them at this time: if accommodations are not already in place, students are always entitled to seek academic accommodation. Please contact the University Secretariat for more information about these options.
The department has committed to greater engagement with the work of challenging anti-Black racism and the aspects of the institution that allow it to thrive, in order to create more equitable spaces, and of engaging with that work collectively in terms of shared expectations for their own programs and teaching practice. The Faculty will facilitate formal dialogue and learning opportunities to ensure that the implications of these issues and others are well understood, emphasizing the voices of Black students, staff, and faculty in that work. As an institution, we have committed to a series of initiatives aimed at establishing community-driven priorities for change; collecting data that enables accountability metrics; improving our broader equity, diversity, and inclusion practice; and enriching campus learning about anti-Black racism and the Black experience. Incidents like these demonstrate that we must also continue to develop better and more effective lines of communication both to learn from and respond to those who are experiencing racism. It is essential that all members of our community are more fully aware of the impact of their words, actions, and practices.
The Student Counselling Centre is available to any students who are in need of additional support and need to speak to someone. Please reach out to them at email@example.com for an appointment. Students can also access confidential counselling by licensed counsellors through MySSP 24/7 via phone or text. Students can request a Black counsellor from either service. Faculty and staff can access confidential support through the Employee and Family Assistance Program, which offers professional and confidential counselling and information services. Again, we are very sorry for the pain this incident has caused and we are working, on many fronts and in a consultative manner, to address anti-Black racism on this campus.
In these changing and challenging times, expectations for safer learning environments are evolving rapidly. We must therefore create environments where everyone has equal rights to be respected, to disagree and debate, and to learn and create knowledge, based on the fundamental principles of intellectual inquiry. We are committed to finding this common ground. We strongly urge everyone concerned with this issue to engage with the anti-Black Racism Task Force: the issue of anti-Black language in academic settings will be a focus of specific listening sessions leading to concrete Calls to Action, and we hope you will join us in articulating common goals for action.
In June 2020, the University of Windsor committed to a series of concrete steps to lay the groundwork to combat systemic anti-Black racism on campus; support equitable access to opportunities for Black students, staff, and faculty; and foster safer, inclusive, welcoming, and anti-racist communities on our campus. We need to fully address racial injustice, as it manifests in society, and as it has manifested on our campus: these actions are a starting point.
These are the commitments we have made, which we intend as foundational steps toward a comprehensive long-term strategy:
To date we have taken the following steps:
There is much more to do. A truly inclusive future for the University of Windsor begins with our actions and choices today. We invite all members of the campus community to engage in these efforts.
June 11, 2020
To the University of Windsor Campus Community,
The past few weeks have been exceedingly difficult for the Black members of our campus community.
The senseless killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police has set off a firestorm of protest that has served as a stark reminder that anti-Black racism remains pervasive not only in the United States, but in our country and on our campus. It was a blatant demonstration of anti-Black racism and it has resonated with all of us who decry racial injustice and discrimination.
Last week, the University of Windsor’s statement on the death of Mr. Floyd did not go far enough and failed to both fully recognize the significance of the moment and explicitly condemn anti-Black racism. The University thanks all of those who brought this to our attention.
We are committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, but we also know that our University can and must do more when it comes to the issues that focus on equality and human rights. And we recognize that the University has not dealt with racial injustice in a meaningful way in the past, particularly as it applies to anti-Black racism.
We must make real, substantive change, and make a commitment to look squarely at systemic anti-Black racism on our campus and deal with it. As a University, we have to do better. We must also do what is right. There must be a place for voices to be heard, for students, staff, faculty and alumni to be engaged; a plan is needed for change; and there must be a process for accountability.
With that in mind, the University is taking the following measures as a first step:
In partnership with our student governments (UWSA, GSS and OPUS), we will establish a University of Windsor Anti-Black Racism Task Force. Representation will include our students, staff, faculty and alumni and will complement the recently announced Anti-Black Racism Committee in the Faculty of Law. The Task Force will focus on: (i) listening and learning of the perspectives on anti-Black racism across the University; and (ii) identifying necessary policies, programs, pedagogy, research and the appropriate actions to address anti-Black racism in all forms. The Task Force will be established over the coming months and begin its work in Fall 2020.
The University will immediately establish a training and educational framework to raise awareness and understanding of anti-Black racism, whether intentional, unconscious or systemic, as well as proactive and remedial strategies to deal with it. Students, staff and faculty will be invited to participate in training opportunities which will be mandatory for all senior administrators and Board of Governors members.
To better understand, monitor and track forms of racial discrimination across the University, we will explore a partnership with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to implement, among other things, a racial demographic data collection framework. This will help to better understand the challenges faced by our marginalized students and allow future progress to be assessed.
Working with the Office of Human Rights, Equity & Accessibility (OHREA) and other units across the University, we will also commission an external review of our broader institution-wide equity, diversity and inclusion processes, policies, programs, committees and reporting structures. This review will be a collaborative undertaking, welcoming contributions from across the University community.
The University is committed to providing resources for each of these initiatives and will also establish an assessment and reporting process to effectively monitor and communicate progress moving forward.
We are now ready to make much-needed change as it relates to anti-Black racism at the University of Windsor. We will need everyone’s help. And together, we will make a difference.
Friday sessions mediated by Rai Reece offer “radical collective care” to Black-identified students.