For the past few days, a protest has been taking place at the gates of our community. While some are exercising their legitimate right to protest, too many are, unfortunately, using this event to promote violence, and engage in hateful, racist, and homophobic acts.
Once again, the university has shown a serious lack of leadership by demanding that both students and professors return to campus for in-person classes, despite instructions from local authorities to avoid the downtown area.
For many of our members and students, the outbreaks of intimidation and intolerance that continue through downtown Ottawa are a source of immense stress and distress. We have heard of several hateful incidents against members of the university community who live downtown or who are members of visible minorities. Forcing professors and students to make their way through this occupation is completely irresponsible and demonstrates a lack of sensitivity, empathy, and understanding for the many members of our community who are marginalized and/or racialized.
While the latest statement from the Vice President, Finance and Administration includes an off-hand reminder of mental health resources, there is no concern nor mention of measures to ensure the well-being, and health and safety of the university community. As a public institution in the nation’s capital, the university needs to unequivocally denounce acts of violence, hate and discrimination. Instead, the University forces the return to the classroom while offering a silly band-aid for mental health.
We sympathize and stand in solidarity with those members of our community who have had to, or are still having to, endure the violence and harassment that is taking place in downtown Ottawa. While we recognize the right to freedom of expression and association, the APTPUO unreservedly denounces the acts of violence, harassment, hate speech, and hate appeals, including racism and antisemitism, that have taken place over the past few days.
We want to remind our members who are unable to come to campus given the current situation, to continue your class virtually.
APTPUO’s Board of Directors