“I have concluded that there were serious procedural errors in the processing of the complaint which were prejudicial to Mr. Afolabi…I cannot conclude this judgment without acknowledging the existence of racial profiling and anti-Black racism and the role it may have sub-consciously played in the treatment of Mr. Afolabi. It is a fact of our existence.”
–Bruce Elman (Adjudicator & former Dean of Law) in Jordan’s appeal decision issued to UWindsor President, Robert Gordon
This is the scathing truth that all of you supporting Expose UWindsor have known for a long time; UWindsor’s prejudicial treatment of Jordan Afolabi suggests a very serious Anti-Black racism problem in the administration. But for UWindsor President Robert Gordon, it took the words of another white man to validate the reality of Jordan Afolabi’s lived experiences (as well as those of so many other Black students on UWindsor campus).
In what is arguably the most significant development in the ongoing story of Jordan Afolabi’s experience with the UWindsor administration, Bruce Elman (City of Windsor Integrity Commissioner, UWindsor Professor Emeritus, former UWindsor Dean of Law, and designated adjudicator of Jordan’s case) has issued a strongly worded decision in response to Mr. Afolabi’s appeal of the University’s decision not to discipline Joseph Yakow for his actions.
Jordan Afolabi is a Black UWindsor Law student who– despite being found by the University’s own investigation, as well as the accounts of multiple witnesses, to have been acting in self-defense from the enraged attack of Joseph Yakow– was banned from various locations on campus and has been labelled a “legitimate health and safety concern” to staff members while no disciplinary action has been taken against Joseph Yakow for having assaulted him. Only recently (upon receiving Bruce Elman’s decision) was Jordan allowed to return to campus freely after almost one year of being banned.
Additionally, in this process, Jordan has faced multiple acts of retaliation from administrative members such as Danieli Arbex and Charlene Roe. Such actions include the filing of false police reports concerning Jordan’s actions in their offices, multiple procedural and confidentiality breaches, and the fabrication of documentation related to his case. Jordan has produced multiple recordings of his conversations with these administrative members that seemingly contradict the statements made in their reports to the police.
Jordan Afolabi was banned from these offices in response to his repeated attempts to have UWindsor respond to evidence and complaints he had submitted. In his complaints, Jordan demanded that the University take disciplinary action against the student that assaulted him and filed false criminal charges against him. He also demanded disciplinary action be taken concerning the various members of the University that had unlawfully ignored his complaints.
Joseph Yakow is a UWindsor student who attacked and assaulted a computer science student (Jordan Afolabi) in a frightening and shocking display of violence on the university campus. After Jordan defended himself from the attack, Yakow subsequently filed false allegations to the Windsor Police Service and the University of Windsor concerning the incident claiming that an “unknown black male” assaulted him without provocation. Yakow falsely claimed he never touched the student, never did anything to provoke the alleged beating, and had no idea why he was attacked . He even went as far as stating that during the alleged onslaught of the student he “blacked out” twice and saw a “white haze”. This is despite multiple witness accounts claiming that Yakow was the aggressor throughout the conflict. He explicitly stated in his police reports that he wanted the innocent student expelled from the University and criminally charged and convicted of assault and uttering threats. Yakow’s statements lead to the university student Jordan’s arrest, incarceration, and charge with assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats. Additionally, Jordan was suspended from attending the University and banned from campus during the University’s investigation of Yakow’s claims. Though the University has acknowledged that Yakow’s allegations were false and that he was the one who assaulted Jordan, Ryan Flannagan (the Associate Vice President Student Experience) has refused to take any disciplinary action. As far as the University is concerned, Yakow is free to repeat his actions any time.
President Gordon Knew of Decision Before Issuing Second George Floyd Statement
To be clear, President Robert Gordon knew of Elman’s decision before he issued his second statement on anti-Black racism (as seen Below) after you made your voices clear and demanded more from his first statement Despite this, he refused to acknowledge Jordan Afolabi’s experience, or Expose UWindsor’s call for a public apology to the Black UWindsor community for the University’s prejudicial treatment of Jordan Afolabi. He refused to speak out on the actions of his own staff Charlene Roe, Danieli Arbex, Douglas Kneale, or Ryan Flannagan. How seriously can we take Robert Gordon’s public statement when he actively works to silence and hide the voices of those calling for real changes on this campus? Clearly, this is yet another empty PR move meant to save face in public. When Robert Gordon publicly declares his commitment to “equity, diversity, and inclusion”, but fails to confront the racism of his own staff, we, of the UWindsor community, must begin to question his ability to lead us through these times.
University Ordered to Apologize to Jordan
The first line (beginning paragraph 71) of Elman’s conclusion reads as follows:
“I have decided to allow this appeal on the 1st Ground, namely that there were procedural errors in the processing of the Complaint that prejudiced Mr. Afolabi.”
In paragraph 72, Elman’s decision directs the University to issue an apology to Mr. Afolabi reading:
“The University should send a letter of apology to Mr. Afolabi expressing its regret for the lengthy delay in handing the Complaint and for the procedural error that, in all likelihood, prejudiced the Appellant [Mr. Afolabi].”
Elman’s direction fulfills half of Expose UWindsor’s 11th demand calling on the University to apologize to Jordan as well as the Black UWindsor community. Though Robert Gordon has quietly issued a private and lackluster apology to Jordan, it is Expose UWindsor’s view that the UWindsor administration’s abuse of Jordan Afolabi is far from an isolated incident on campus. It is our position that Jordan’s case is indicative of the pervasive culture of anti-Black racism within UWindsor administration, which frequently harms the Black UWindsor community–thankfully, Jordan got it on tape. The truth is that Black students should not have to go through the grueling evidentiary processes that Jordan did in order to be treated like humans by the UWindsor administration.
As such, Expose UWindsor calls on the University to issue a public apology–not just to Jordan–but to all Black UWindsor students, faculty, and staff who have been harmed and shaken by the prejudice displayed in this matter.
University Ordered to Make Academic Restitution
In paragraph 73, Elman’s decision directs the University to make academic restitution for the academic damages incurred by Mr. Afolabi during the matter. The decision reads:
Further, Mr. Afolabi should be given a letter, or a notation should be put on his file, indicating that these Complaints and Appeals have taken a significant amount of time and may have affected his grades in the relevant Academic terms.
Though this direction is in line with Expose UWindsor’s 4th demand for Jordan’s academic restitution, Robert Gordon and the University have not yet obeyed the directions of their own decision, and have not made Jordan aware of any changes to his transcript. It is clear that the University remains obstinate even after a report has been made condemning their prejudicial behaviour.
Elman Condemns UWindsor’s Disciplinary Structure
In paragraph 59, Professor Elman’s decision on this matter is punctuated by a strongly worded condemnation of the University’s disciplinary system structure. Elman explains that Ryan Flannagan’s many duties/powers as the Associate Vice President Student Experience (AVP-SE) cause several unavoidable conflicts of interests. Elman goes on to say that unless these roles are separated, the University cannot “provide due process to the students and it is not fair and equitable”. Professor Elman completes his criticism of the University’s disciplinary system by advising that Ryan Flannagan’s powers as the AVP-SE be significantly decreased.
In paragraph 56, Professor Elman heavily condemns Danieli Arbex’s investigation and titling the entire section “What should have happened in this case?” The section is quoted below:
WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED IN THIS CASE? When Dr. Arbex interviewed Mr. Yakow, she should have required him to complete NA Form 1.1. She could have attached his CCP Incident Report as an Appendix. She should then have sent the Complaint Form to Mr. Afolabi and arranged to meet with him. When she heard his version of the [facts], Dr. Arbex should have been immediately alerted to the fact that Mr. Afolabi was alleging an entirely different version of the facts, namely that Mr. Yakow was the aggressor and that it was Mr. Yakow who had violated the Student Code of Conduct. Mr. Afolabi should then have been asked to complete NA Form 1.1 which, in accordance with the Procedures for Addressing Student Non-Academic Misconduct, would have been delivered to Mr. Yakow. Subsequent interviews may have been necessary with each student for Dr. Arbex to sort out the facts and make some determinations or recommendations as to responsibility under the Student Code of Conduct. If the matter was to be handed over to an independent Investigator, both Complaints could have been examined in a coordinated fashion. I point out that a single or uni-directional investigation targeting one student only – such as what took place here – is not necessarily adequate when there are adversaries in an assault offering different versions of the facts of the incident. Indeed, it is possible that Ms. Jammu-Taylor’s finding of facts would have been different if she understood that she was investigating these competing claims.
Professor Elman clearly spells it out: Danieli Arbex blatantly violated a Black student’s procedural rights and disregarded his version of events in favor of those provided by a non-Black student regarding an altercation between the two. She automatically assumed the Black student was to blame and failed to adequately assess the conflicting facts that were clearly present in the case. Danieli Arbex took a “uni-directional” approach and targeted a Black student without considering the evidence comprehensively. In doing so, Danieli Arbex, and the University as a whole– due to the AVP-SE’s inaction when Arbex’s prejudicial behaviour was brought to his attention– robbed a Black student of justice and equal treatment. To our knowledge, these individuals have still not been held accountable.
Elman Acknowledges Racism May Have Driven University’s Actions
Professor Elman concludes his decision by acknowledging that racial profiling and anti-Black racism may have been the causes for Ryan Flannagan and Danieli Arbex’s “prejudicial” violations of Jordan’s procedural rights. He also expresses serious concern for the stark difference in compassion with which the two administrative members treated Joseph Yakow (the non-black student who assaulted Jordan and filed a false police report about him). Concerning the likelihood that Flannagan and Arbex acted out of anti-Black racism, Elman is quoted as follows:
I cannot conclude this judgment without acknowledging the existence of racial profiling and anti-Black racism and the role it may have sub-consciously played in the treatment of Mr. Afolabi. It is a fact of our existence.
In paragraph 68, he goes on to discuss the differential treatment by writing:
One cannot help but be concerned, however, when one examines, even in a cursory fashion, the Orders of Exclusion against Mr. Afolabi which were handed down between March 14th and March 28th. They escalated dramatically from, essentially “you can go to your classes in Odette but don’t loiter around” on March 14th to “you must not enter Odette or any other building where the other student has classes. . . you are banned from your classes for the rest of the term” on March 26th to “you are banned from Campus entirely”; “you may not contact Dr. Arbex”; “you may not drop off documents to her” on March 28th. This is in stark contrast to the deep concern expressed for Mr. Yakow. This deviation in response may be… [a] product of sub-conscious racial profiling and stereotyping.
Again, Bruce Elman’s words speak clearly for themselves; Danieli Arbex and the University treated a Black student significantly worse than they treated a non-Black student involved in this matter.
UWindsor Has Serious Anti-Black Racism Problem
It is evident that we have a serious problem with anti-Black racism on campus at UWindsor. Professor Bruce Elman clearly acknowledges anti-Black racism as a plausible driving force of the admin’s prejudicial treatment of Jordan Afolabi.
In conclusion, although Bruce Elman’s decision is a victory on the surface, it came at great cost to a Black student that was ultimately innocent. No Black UWindsor student should ever have to go through the amount of labour, trauma, and abuse that Jordan Afolabi endured just to get the University to acknowledge prejudice when it is brought to their attention. Elman’s decision is progress; however, until Danieli Arbex, Charlene Roe, Ryan Flannagan, and Douglas Kneale are exposed and disciplined by the University, his decision simply means there are prejudicial administrative members still active in powerful positions on our campus. Because of this, it is Expose UWindsor’s position that no Black student is truly safe at UWindsor.
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