The University of Ottawa has implemented new rules clarifying how and when its security personnel may demand identification from an individual.
The move comes almost three months after a black student was stopped by campus security while skateboarding on campus and arrested.
The new security regulations, announced by the university Wednesday, underscore that “identification must never be requested randomly and arbitrarily” and that demanding ID “should not be … routine practice.”
“The directives aim at striking a proper balance between due respect of individual rights and the officers’ duty to protect and ensure safety and security on campus,” said the university’s media release about the new rules.
The new security directives are part of the university’s ongoing response to a June 12 incident on campus that triggered allegations of racial profiling and harassment.
In video footage of the incident student Jamal Boyce posted to Twitter, a campus security officer is heard asking Boyce to show ID and then demanding he leave campus when Boyce tells them he doesn’t have ID on him and is a student.
“After letting them know that I didn’t have my wallet on me and trying to walk away they followed me, hit my phone to the ground as I tried to record, grabbed me and put me in handcuffs,” Boyce tweeted on June 13, alleging he was detained for two hours in plain view on campus.
On June 14, two days after the incident, U of O president Jacques Frémont announced the university’s human rights office had launched an investigation into the matter.
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In its update Wednesday, the university said its review of the policy that authorizes campus security officers to ask for ID is still ongoing but said the new regulations will apply in the meantime. They are effective immediately and until further notice, the university said.
The new regulations lay out several examples of when it’s appropriate for a security officer to request ID – namely when campus security is responding to a call for help – but underlines that the university’s protection services should “limit a request for identification to those situations where the verification of the person’s identity is necessary to protect the safety of persons or property.”
And when a campus security officer does ask for ID, that officer must explain why and inform the individual they can opt not to hand over their ID — with some exceptions.
The university on Wednesday also announced that all its active security officers had completed unconscious bias training and participated in a session on equity, diversity and inclusion.
The university also unveiled an updated complaint mechanism that allows anyone filing a grievance involving campus security to directly contact the director of protection services.
The school says these measures are “part of a wide-ranging approach aimed at combating racial discrimination and promoting acceptance and inclusion on the campus and within the university community.”
Outside expert’s review ongoing
On June 18, the university announced it had hired an independent legal advisor, Toronto lawyer Esi Codjoe, to review the incident. Codjoe’s investigation is ongoing and she is “in the process of completing a report on the first phase of her mandate,” the university said in its update.
Codjoe was tasked with determining whether the university’s protection policies and procedures were “appropriately applied” in the June 12 incident. In addition to that, she was asked to review those same policies and their application and “advise about their impacts on racialized community members,” according to the university.
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The university says it “remains committed” to making Codjoe’s report public “while respecting relevant privacy laws.”
Codjoe is a former vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.