Racism Condemned at SJU
A Response to a Recent Incident Related to the Use of a Racist Word
St. Jerome’s University condemns racism in all forms. It is a dehumanizing force that must not be tolerated in Canadian society or on our campus.
The University has been made aware of ongoing and heightened concerns related to an incident involving one of our faculty members and material they presented in two lectures, on March 4 and March 9, 2020. The incident involved a faculty member who was attempting to deliver lectures on harmful language and the need for sensitivity between and across different groups that have experienced and continue to experience discrimination.
In these two lectures, and after the second lecture when speaking with two students who raised concerns, the faculty member used harmful words, including a racist word.
The faculty member apologized, in writing, on the morning of March 12, 2020, to the two students who raised concerns after the lecture. The faculty member then issued an apology to the entire class on March 14, 2020, via the online Learn system, as in-person classes were suspended due to COVID-19.
On March 14, 2020, a student submitted a complaint, which resulted in the University conducting an inquiry. Following that inquiry, the faculty member committed to restructuring their lectures so that students feel protected, safe, and respected. In addition to having apologized to the students and the class, the faculty member has participated and will continue to participate in equity training and anti-racism workshops through the Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion Office at the University of Waterloo. The faculty member has committed to never use this racist word again. The University will ensure that this faculty member has the training and education available to avoid engaging in such conduct in the future.
St. Jerome’s University is committed to addressing systemic racism, interpersonal acts of racism, and structures that lead to intersectional oppression on our campus. We have made the following commitments and will continue to make others in dialogue with individuals and groups that identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC):
- April 2020: SJU launched its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Program, with phased work planning beginning in June 2020, with the establishment of the President’s EDI Working Group; and the SJU Students’ Union reaching out to their constituency to populate the paid student positions on the working group.
- Immediate: We will embed anti-racism measures in our recruitment of St. Jerome’s University staff, faculty, and board members.
- Summer-Fall 2020: As part of our the University’s commitment to EDI, we will offer training on how to avoid micro aggressions and other oppressive actions in the classroom and in the support of our students.
- July 2020: The SJU Students Affairs team, Campus Ministry, and Enrolment and Upper-Year Transitions staff will undergo equity and anti-racism training and education through the Human Right, Equity, and Inclusion Office at the University of Waterloo.
- Summer 2020: Senior leaders at SJU will be required to participate in anti-racism and equity training.
- Fall 2020-Winter 2021: We will embed anti-racism and anti-oppression goals in the SJU strategic plan and commit to accountability measures.
The University will share other commitments as the EDI program develops and we continue to evaluate our anti-racism work. We aspire to be a community that is truly welcoming and supportive of all.
It is the responsibility of the University to ensure that students are learning in an environment where they are protected, safe, and respected. One of the pernicious effects of systemic racism is that racialized students may not feel safe to speak out individually when they feel unprotected, unsafe, or not respected. Anti-oppression and anti-racist advocates and resource personnel can help.
At St. Jerome’s University, we offer the following resources to assist students:
- Director of Student Affairs at St. Jerome’s University
- St. Jerome’s Students’ Union: the student government at St. Jerome’s University
On the broader University of Waterloo campus, the following are also available to assist students:
- Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA)
- Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Office at the University of Waterloo
- Campus Wellness at the University of Waterloo