The McMaster Students Union (MSU) is calling for the removal of former Hamilton police chief Glenn De Caire from his post as the school’s head of parking and security services.
The union’s student representative assembly met this past weekend, and voted in favour of a motion that implores McMaster to terminate its contract with De Caire.
The motion also calls on the university to disband its special constable program, through which about 20 members receive training from Hamilton police.
MSU President Giancarlo Da-Re says De Caire’s written support for “carding” while Hamilton’s police chief, prior to being hired by the university in 2016, as well as his creation of the Hamilton Police ACTION team are among their points of concern.
The ACTION team is a group of officers who patrol on foot or by bicycle and are easily recognizable by their bright yellow jackets.
Their mandate is to reduce violence, improve safety and enhance the quality of life in vulnerable neighbourhoods, but the MSU argues that they push “people of colour, Indigenous people and other working class people out of the downtown core.”
Da-Re acknowledges that they “can’t say from data that exists that students are being discriminated against or treated unfairly,” but stresses that “a lot of students have shared anecdotal stories with us, saying that they feel targetted, that there’s been racial profiling on campus.”
More than 5,500 people have signed a petition at change.org, supporting the student’s union call for McMaster University to oust De Caire.
Students will also be hosting a virtual protest on Wednesday, sharing social media posts and using the hashtag #HamiltoniansAgainstDeCaire, in an effort to put pressure on the school.
A statement issued by McMaster on Tuesday stresses that security services have an “important role” in keeping the university safe.
The statement notes that special constables answered more than 700 first aid calls in 2019, alone, providing a first response system on campus and guiding students at risk to mental health and other supports.
The university adds that “all security staff and special constables are accountable to the policies and codes of conduct” at McMaster, including policies on “discrimination and harassment.”