A black male “loitering”, “ratting out profs”, and requesting that a hostile secretary “calm down”– these are the accusations that found UWindsor student Jordan Afolabi surrounded and detained by four police officers as he attempted to follow up on an human rights claim he filed 42 days earlier.
Audio that was later obtained by Jordan via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the police-call confirms that UWindsor secretary Charlene Roe made multiple false statements to the police concerning his visit to UWindsor’s Assumption Hall on July 31st, 2019. What the secretary did not know was that Jordan had taken the safety precaution of recording the interaction that led to the police call. Both recordings can be heard in the sections below.
It was only after Jordan insisted they hear his recording and compare it with the report they had received from dispatch that the officers (who Jordan has stated appeared confused by the discrepancy) ended their investigation and allowed him to leave the premises– but not before UWindsor’s former Interim President and current Provost Vice President Academic Douglas Kneale directed that Jordan be permanently banned from returning to the building.
In sickening irony, on July 11th, 2019 and in the presence of Member of Parliament Kirsty Duncan, Douglas Kneale is depicted proudly beaming below as he signs UWindsor’s endorsement of the recently implemented Canadian Dimensions Charter– affirming UWindsor’s “commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion”. While signing for UWindsor’s commitment “to undertake meaningful, inclusive engagement with underrepresented and disadvantaged members”; The date of this signing, marked the 22nd day (of what would grow to over 300) that the former President had spent ignoring a human rights claim submitted by a student of colour. Worst of all, just 20 days after the signing this commitment, Douglas Kneale summarily disciplined Jordan for attempting to follow up in person concerning the unanswered status his claim.
As of Tuesday April 30th, 2020, through the period of 316 days-elapsed, Douglas Kneale is yet to issue a single response to Jordan’s human rights complaint. Shockingly, to the extent of our knowledge, Charlene may still be employed with the University in a position of potential interaction with other black students/members, and has not been disciplined for her behaviour.
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
PRESIDENT UNLAWFULLY IGNORES JORDAN’S CLAIM FOR 42 DAYS
On the said date, Jordan Afolabi was attending the Assumption Hall seeking an update on an unanswered human rights claim (concerning the actions of Charlene’s coworker Danieli Arbex) he had submitted via mail to former Interim President Douglas Kneale on June 19th, 2019– an entire 42 days prior to his visit.
During the 42 days, Jordan had followed up three times (including the July 31st visit)– each time dealing with Charlene Roe, and each time receiving no feedback from the former President. Jordan has stated that his conversations with Charlene were brief and uneventful. During his second last visit on July 24th, 2019, Charlene had advised him to send an email to the President’s office to follow up on the unanswered complaint. Jordan did so, but once again, received no answer from the President’s office. Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) Policy outlines a set of six criteria which all Ontario Institutions are required to meet in responding to a Human Rights Complaint. One such criterion states that complaints “must be acted upon promptly when received”.
Needless to say, 42 days without a single response to Jordan’s complaint submitted on June 19th, 2019 is not at all prompt and is a shamelessly unlawful disregard of OHRC policy. Jordan has expressed his disappointment at having received no response but states that he was determined to continue following up on the matter as necessary. It was for this reason that Jordan returned on July 31st, 2019 to inquire about the status of his complaint once again.
CHARLENE AGGRESSIVELY ACCOSTS JORDAN
This time, Charlene’s reception was not only hostile, but ultimately resulted in a potentially compromising police interaction. Had Jordan not taken measures to protect himself by recording the original interaction, the events of that day may have turned out considerably different.
Upon Jordan’s arrival, the receptionist desk was empty and the hall doors on both wings of the building were propped wide open with many people walking freely in and out of each. Jordan has stated that there were no signs indicating that students were not permitted in the hallways. Because it was summer and many workers were on vacation, Jordan walked through the left hallway to find someone to help him. It was there that he encountered Charlene as she was exiting from a washroom in the hallway. Jordan recalls that she looked visibly upset to see him and noted that she was shaking as their conversation ensued.
In the recording of their actual interaction, Jordan can be heard greeting Charlene and asking if she would be returning to the receptionist station soon. In response, Charlene immediately accosts Jordan with a barrage of interrogation and accusations. She starts off by referring back to their July 24th conversation (during which she instructed Jordan to send an email to the president requesting to follow up) by presumptuously stating that:
“I think we’ve had a lot of discussion; you have to send it in writing. You’re not going to be able to get in for an appointment.”
As Jordan attempts to answer her questions explaining that he had in fact sent the email as instructed– once again receiving no reply– Charlene abruptly interrupts him before he could finish answering and asks if he had a scheduled appointment that day. Noting that Charlene was not giving him the opportunity to completely answer her questions, Jordan then asks her to be calm. Once again, Charlene abrasively interrupts Jordan, and accusingly states that he knew he was not supposed to be in the hallways. Incredulous at the accusation, Jordan informs her that he found her presumptuous behaviour to be rude and noted there was no posted indication that he was not permitted in the hallway. From there, Charlene can be heard turning abruptly and walking off to call the police. Expecting Charlene would simply return with a senior executive, Jordan made his way back to the lobby to wait.
CHARLENE CALLS POLICE
Suddenly, four police officers entered and directed him (Jordan) to exit the building with them. Outside, Jordan was detained and questioned by the officers who were under the impression that there was an “excitable” student refusing to leave until he spoke with the president. It wasn’t until after he played the recording of the interaction that he was allowed to leave by the police. Jordan recalls that the officers seemed confused by the reality of what they heard in contrast to the false statements that Charlene Roe had made. Despite the officers opting not to arrest Jordan, Douglas Kneale instructed them to issue a trespass order permanently banning Jordan from the building at the requests of the secretaries– who the officers described as being “animate” in “fear for their safety”. This order remains in effect till this day even though the University has made no finding of misconduct on Jordan’s part nor provided any official reason or process of appeal.
WHAT WAS ALLEGED TO POLICE?
JORDAN CAME THREE TIMES [IN ONE DAY]
In the first few seconds of her call to the police, Charlene somewhat truthfully states that it was Jordan’s third time attending the Assumption Hall building. What she omits to say is that it was his third time in the span of 42 days. It would seem that she intentionally portrays the matter as though the student had attended the building three times in one day without an appointment. Even if this had been the case, the behaviour would still not amount to criminal activity and certainly would not warrant police intervention; tuition-paying UWindsor students are entitled to attend open admin buildings as often as they need with or without an appointment, and such is actually the norm for many administrative offices such as the Registrar and Cashier departments.
JORDAN REFUSED TO ID/DEMANDS TO SEE PRESIDENT
Also notable in the brief 25-second exchange is that at no point can Charlene be heard asking Jordan for his name and at no point does Jordan refuse to “state his business” even though Charlene is heard in the recording falsely alleging that Mr. Afolabi had refused to identify himself to her and had also refused to state his business in the building. Further, these accusations are seemingly strange enough on their own as the area of the building in question is freely accessible to all UWindsor students and being present there does not typically require explanation. Beyond this though, is the fact that– despite Charlene alleging that he had done so– not once in the recording is Jordan heard demanding to speak with the president.
JORDAN AGGRESSIVELY SAYS “YOU CALM DOWN”
A particularly troubling segment in Charlene’s call to the police occurs when she claims to be fearful of returning alone to the lobby where the student was waiting because he had asked her to be calm. At multiple points, Charlene states:
“He said ‘you calm down’. That’s why I don’t want to go out there. And he won’t give us his name– he just keeps wanting to come in here.
I’m a little leery to go out there by myself; That’s why I’m in Laura’s Office…[operator responds briefly]…I can’t see him from here. That’s the only thing. So if I go to the lobby I’m back with him, and he’s already told me to calm down.”
Asking a person to “calm down” should not be considered a threat or escalation, but rather a demonstrated effort to diffuse animosity; However, Charlene’s interpretation of a request to calm down as an escalating threat, instead of an attempt to diffuse the situation, is a clear sign of racially-influenced bias. Considering a hypothetical scenario in which Jordan had angrily accosted the secretary, rightfully demanded to know why his Human Rights Claim was unlawfully ignored for 42 days by her institution, and subsequently called the police in response to the secretary’s request that he “calm down”, the truth hidden by the active double standard should become apparent; calling the police on any human requesting to speak in a calm manner is a highly inappropriate abuse of EMS services. Further, doing so while acting on a racial bias is an even greater abuse of Canadian Human Rights.
CHARLENE TELLS POLICE THAT JORDAN IS “RATTING OUT PROFS”
Lastly, despite claiming Jordan had refused to state his business (yet never asking what his business was in the first place), Charlene seemed to be fully aware of the nature of Jordan’s visits. In fact, during her call to the police, she describes Jordan’s human rights claim with great detail stating that Jordan had submitted an anonymously signed written document and was “ratting out profs and other students”. This is a very disturbing detail because as stated, Jordan had submitted a 23-page claim in a sealed envelope explicitly labelled “Urgent and confidential to be opened only by the president of University of Windsor: Dr. Douglas Kneale”. UWindsor’s own policies unequivocally state that “employees are given access to information contained in student records on a strict, need-to-know basis”.
This is important because Charlene does not work directly inside the president’s office– which has its own secretary and assistant. Charlene works as the lobby receptionist of the building in which the president’s office– as well as several other offices– are located. Any suggestion that she opened a package marked “confidential only to be opened by the president” on account of her secretarial duties to the president are heavily undermined by these fact that the President has his own executive assistants.
We can’t say for certain how Charlene knew with such detail what was in the sealed envelope Jordan had mailed, but if we had to venture a guess, we’d speculate it was certainly against UWindsor privacy policies. In any case, Charlene’s knowledge of the complaint and her willingness to openly speak disparagingly of a black student’s effort to peacefully assert his lawful right to self-advocacy is cause for serious questioning of UWindsor’s Human Rights Policy.
WHAT’S THE MAIN PROBLEM HERE?
RESPECTABILITY DIDN’T WORK
Section 8 of the Ontario Human Rights Code and section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms afford all students, including black ones, the entitlement to claim and assert their Human Rights free from retaliatory behaviour (such as calling the police and making false incriminating statements about innocent black students or disparagingly relating their efforts to be free from discrimination to the behaviour of rats).
Despite UWindsor’s alleged commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, when a black student’s first response to discrimination was to peacefully advocate for justice by gathering evidence of his claims, documenting them in a written submission, and following the institutionally prescribed protocols of escalation, he was ignored, stiff-armed by unscrupulous staff, and ultimately found himself involved in an unpleasant police interaction. The importance of immediately responding positively to peaceful efforts to address institutional discrimination cannot be understated; if black students cannot obtain due process abiding within the parameters outlined by the system, then they cannot be expected to remain helplessly confined by them.
This is just one of many times Jordan has received similar treatment from UWindsor staff members who felt police presence was necessary to impede him from “ratting out” their coworkers. UWindsor’s ethical commitments must supersede any gang-like mob mentalities within their administrative ranks. Real steps need to be taken to expose UWindsor’s deep-seeded roots of anti-black discrimination; Band-aid solutions are no longer enough.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
ExposeUWindsor believes that, where possible, detailed, clear, and actionable solutions to a problem should be offered by those protesting it. This is why in addition to putting an end to Jordan’s sanctions, and the appropriate reprimanding of the parties negatively involved in Jordan’s matter, we at ExposeUWindsor have demanded public interest remedies in the form of the following implementations from the University of Windsor:
- Collection of Racialized Student Statistics.
- Racialized Students/Members Policy.
- Staff/Student Accountability and Transparency Policy.
Until these solutions are implemented and black members are truly safeguarded from discrimination on campus, UWindsor cannot– in good faith– claim any such commitment to equity, diversity, or inclusion.
#ExposeUwindsor #UwindsorDeservesBetter #DanieliArbex #RyanFlannagan #DouglasKneale #CharleneRoe #BlackInPostSec #JosephYakow #BlackInPostSec