An Update on Addressing Institutional Racism at the UWSA
On June 12, 2020 the UWSA Board of Directors (“the board”) approved a motion to send a formal request to the UWinnipeg Human Rights and Diversity Office (HRDO) to investigate the experiences of harassment and discrimination disclosed by students Mahlet Cuff and Noelle Sagher in social media on June 4 and 10. These disclosures include the potential involvement of the current UWSA Executive Director team: Jibril Hussein, Melanie William, and Breanna Belisle.
On June 16, 2020, the board approved a motion to put the Executive team on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.
The UWSA Board of Directors believes our former Executives’ experiences and the opinions shared on the Executive Directors’ Instagram account, were not approved by the UWSA Board, nor supported by UWSA labour unions.
We acknowledge our part in creating an environment where our former Executives felt unsafe and unsupported. We want you to know that we’re listening, and we’re committed to changing the way we work to address the gaps in our organization for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.
In addition to the external HRDO investigation, the UWSA Board of Directors is committed to providing anti-racism training and to conducting an internal investigation, with the support of a third-party, to help us identify and change the limitations of our policies and processes, and take steps to improve them.
We recognize that these are just the first steps towards dismantling institutional racism inherent in colonial educational institutions, and we plan to continually evaluate where we are, and do better. Over the year, we will continue to share information on our next steps with students on our website.
During this time the UWSA would like to support any students that were affected by these disclosures and actions, as well as to reassure all students that Executive emails and phone lines are forwarding to the Chief Operating Officer (COO), and being redirected to supporting UWSA departments. The UWSA Board will be meeting on July 8 to discuss other interim changes to board meetings and subcommittees.
In the absence of a Chair of the Board, our former Chair, Taylor Daigneault has stepped-in to offer interim support.
All questions regarding Board Meetings can go to UWSA General Manager, Jennifer Black, at firstname.lastname@example.org
All questions regarding business operations can go to UWSA Chief Operating Officer, Karolya Vargscarr, at email@example.com
Thank you for raising your voice and always keeping us accountable.
UWSA Board of Directors
University of Winnipeg Students’ Association