March 11, 2021
On December 14th, 2020, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) released a statement condemning the violent arrest of a Black SFU Alumnus by Burnaby RCMP at the SFU Dining Hall on December 11th, 2020.
On December 13th, 2020, SFU President Joy Johnson announced the establishment of an external review process to review the event and recommend next steps forward. This morning (March 11th, 2021), exactly three months after the arrest, a summary of the review was released.
With the release of the MacKay Report summary, we are deeply concerned by the lack of concrete findings and recommendations of this investigation. We take issue with multiple elements of the report.
Firstly, the request for a SFU Safewalk was not communicated to the Alumnus as a reason for the alumnus to leave the campus on December 11. Rather, the sole basis that was communicated to the alumnus for their removal was on the basis of SFU’s COVID-19 campus access policies which were vague, conflicting, and not widely accessible. These policies were also not accompanied by any reliable mechanism to validate if a person is a current student or not. This issue was rightfully highlighted in the MacKay Report summary’s second recommendation of “updating [SFU] identification cards so that they contain digital information”. However, it does not address the fact that racial biases are what prompt security personnel to disproportionately target Black, Indigenous and other racialized people with identification checks in the first place.
We are also troubled by the investigation’s overall failure to outline Campus Public Safety (CPS) policies and procedures as they were applied in this case. We could not find anywhere to our knowledge of existing CPS policies that state SFU Safewalk requests result in an automatic and immediate removal of a person from campus as outlined in the report- which would be a problematic practice. This investigation continues to show the lack of transparency in which SFU Security continues to operate, including how this specific incident unfolded. We continue to call on the University to amend policies and procedures relating to security escalation and use of force on campus to be more equitable and safe towards racialized and marginalized students and centered around trauma and violence-informed approaches.
Incidents like that of December 11th are not isolated incidents. Our Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour community members will continue to be the subjects of racial profiling and violent incidents on our campuses if SFU fails to equitably redress their inadequate policies, procedures and practices. The University must commit to taking tangible action led by racialized voices in tackling these systemic problems. SFU’s vague, inequitable, and inaccessible policies, always gives space for institutions to disportionately target marginalized communities.
The SFSS is reinforcing our calls for swift and immediate action to be taken by the University to protect the safety of our Black, Indigenous and students of colour.
We continue (in addition to our previous demands) to call for:
For students and community members who have been particularly harmed by the incident, this process and the report, please know that the SFSS is committed to protecting and reducing harm caused by these incidents and to leading with empathy and care at all times.
Please feel free to consult the following resources: