Racism on campus is in the spotlight again after a black Queen’s faculty member was forced off an on-campus sidewalk on University Avenue and subjected to racial slurs Nov. 14 by four male students wearing engineering jackets.
She reported the incident to the Human Rights Office and the University administration was made aware of it on Monday morning.
Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane called the students’ behaviour “appalling.”
“We regard it as evidence that there is very serious work still to be done in the University to eliminate this kind of behaviour,” Deane said.
The administration is investigating the incident along with Campus Security, the Dean of Applied Science and the Engineering Society. The faculty member, who wishes to remain unnamed, reported that the students were wearing engineering jackets.
There are challenges that will dictate the speed of the investigation, Deane said. One is the difficulty of identifying the perpetrators and then assembling a case with sufficient evidence.
They will be subject to non-academic discipline if they’re identified and there’s sufficient evidence of their actions.
Deane said this incident serves as an example of a larger problem on campus.
“I think it’s an obligation the whole University shares to ensure that kind of thing doesn’t happen here,” Deane said.
Barrington Walker, Queen’s diversity advisor, said although the incident is significant, the University needs to step back from specific episodes and think in more general terms.
“I think it’s an important step … thinking more broadly of issues like student and faculty recruitment, and how they can create the climate for incidents such as [this], so that incidents can be eliminated from campus.”