A University of Ottawa student says he was humiliated when campus security officers arrested him on Wednesday, an incident the school said it will investigate.
Jamal Boyce tweeted on Thursday that he was carded and handcuffed by staff of uOttawa Protection Services after he failed to show identification.
In a video posted to his Twitter account, security guards can be heard telling Mr. Boyce he is trespassing and asking him to show identification or to leave campus. Mr. Boyce responds that he has no ID with him.
“I’m trespassing, how?” Mr. Boyce says in the video. “I’m a student that pays a lot of money to go here.”
Mr. Boyce could not be reached for an interview on Friday. He said in his tweet: “After letting them know that I didn’t have my wallet on me and trying to walk away they followed me, hit my phone to the ground as I tried to record, grabbed me and put me in handcuffs #blackoncampus.”
Ottawa Police Service Constable Amy Gagnon said the police received a call from campus security at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, asking for help identifying a man they said was trespassing and engaged in prohibited activity. She did not say what the activity was, but added that prohibited activities can include actions that breach campus policy.
Const. Gagnon said the police identified the man and spoke to him. The student was not charged.
University president Jacques Frémont said in a news conference on Friday that he asked Noël Badiou, the director of the university’s human rights office, to review the situation and provide recommendations, both immediate and long-term.
“We must lead by example and go out and eliminate any systemic pattern of discrimination,” he said.
Mr. Frémont said there are no plans at this time to discipline the security guards. He said the results of the inquiry will determine further decisions, adding that he does not know how long it will take.
Amir Attaran, a law professor at the university, said in an interview on Friday that Mr. Boyce could sue for assault.
“That would be a fitting thing to do,” he said.
Prof. Attaran said a security guard entered his office without knocking in September, 2017, saying he received a 911 call from the location. Prof. Attaran said he did not call the police and confirmed with his PhD student Brieanne Olibris – who was in the adjacent room – that she did not call 911 either.
In a video on Prof. Attaran’s Twitter account, the security guard refuses to leave and asks for ID, citing campus policy. Prof. Attaran tells the guard he is under no legal obligation to provide ID.
Ms. Olibris said on Friday that she does not think the confrontation would have occurred if she or Prof. Attaran were, or appeared, Caucasian.
She and Prof. Attaran said minorities must be given positions of power and leadership at the university to change the culture. Prof. Attaran said many minority professors are afraid to raise discrimination because of a “culture of fear.”
“This university has nearly the lowest inclusion of minorities of any university in the country,” he said.
A 2017 report from the university’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee found that the university falls short of its federal targets in employing minorities and aboriginals in nine out of 10 faculties.
Ms. Olibris said discrimination persists because Canada’s anti-black history is not talked about enough. She said leaving the university is not an option, because racism is systemic.
“I would much rather students stay and make their presence known and their voices heard,” she said.