Investigation of racist social media posts concludes; students to engage in restorative process

On Monday, Sept. 18, I communicated to the university community my concerns about an offensive social media post targeting Indigenous people that had appeared over the weekend, and indicated that an investigation into the matter would be initiated. That investigation has now concluded.

The two students who were involved took immediate responsibility for the incident and acknowledged that their post was racist and harmful to Indigenous people. They also indicated that they deeply regretted their decision and that their behaviour was inappropriate.

After consultation with several Elders and members of the university Indigenous community and other individuals impacted by the post, the investigation report recommended that the students be allowed an opportunity to participate in an education and restorative process involving individuals who have been affected by their actions. This process is being designed by the offices of Equity and Human Rights, and Student Life, in collaboration with the Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement.

Both students have indicated a sincere willingness to participate in this process and exhibited an appropriate level of awareness of the need to confront the harm caused by their actions and to make amends. At the end of the process, they will be expected to demonstrate that they have learned from this experience.

The investigation was conducted under the authority of the university’s policies on discrimination and harassment, and the resolution of non-academic misconduct allegations, and the result is consistent with our role as an educational institution to promote inclusivity and the advancement of knowledge and mutual understanding

I want to thank the Elders and other members of the Indigenous community on campus for their wisdom and generosity in helping the university address this troubling issue.

This incident has served as a reminder to all of us of the need to actively confront racism and intolerance when we encounter it, and of the importance of education as we continue working toward that better, more equitable and just world we all desire.

President Jamie Cassels, QC
University of Victoria