The university says it has made progress on some commitments it put in place to fight anti-Black racism back in June, when the Black Lives Matter movement called racism on campus into focus. It said some of these initiatives include hiring two people to support an anti-Black racism task force, creating an anti-Black racism website and reviewing the school’s equity, diversion and inclusion infrastructure.
But Lamers says he’s seen similar commitments from the school before, none of which led to any real change on campus.
“I don’t think this is effective, I think it’s repetitive and again, I think it’s boring,” Lamers said.
“I don’t think the university actually wants to address what’s happening, I don’t think the university actually wants to eradicate anti-Black racism. I actually think that they were banking on the fact that, you know, the energy would die down and they wouldn’t have to be as responsible.”
The school listed several commitments to its website, which it says are “foundational steps” it is taking toward a “comprehensive long-term strategy.”
Some of the steps the university says it has completed as of October include:
- Establishing an anti-Black racism working group to advise on the timelines and establishment of initiatives.
- Creating two support positions: an anti-Black racism strategic planning officer and a special projects coordinator to provide insight to the task force.
- Finalizing terms of reference, calls for nominations and nomination processes for the anti-Black racism task force, which were launched Friday.
- Establishing the university’s anti-Black racism website.
- Preliminary planning for the external review of equity, diversity and inclusion infrastructure at the university has been undertaken and so has initial research on approaches to racial demographic data collection.
The university also said on its website: “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.”
Despite the steps the university has taken, law student Natasha Daley says she wants to see changes happening now for the students currently on campus.
“What are we doing about the anti-Black racism that’s taking place right now in our classrooms through Zoom?” she said.
“There’s still students who are experiencing different incidents of anti-Black racism, or who have in this past year, but the university has yet to address those specific incidents.”
She said the voices of current students are not being heard and she wants to see more viable solutions put into effect immediately.
New hires optimistic, despite skepticism
Both of the university’s newest hires, who began their roles Monday, said they understand the skepticism but are optimistic they can be part of the change students are asking for.
“You do have to come into this with a positive frame of mind. If you want the change to happen you have to be part of the change process,” said Marium Tolson-Murtty, the university’s new anti-Black racism strategic planning officer.
“I have to hold the University of Windsor accountable and myself accountable to make sure that we do provide this change on campus.”
Meanwhile, special projects coordinator Jeremiah Bowers said he plans to bridge the gap between students, staff and administration to make the campus experience better for all racialized groups.
“We’re also bringing lived experiences. We’re bringing the trauma of being a Black body in a world that doesn’t want us in an institution that wasn’t built for us,” he said.
Bowers was formerly the president of the school’s student union.
Currently, he said he and Tolson-Murtty are working on developing a task force that is representative of the broad range of racialized communities on campus.