The APUO unequivocally apologizes for the communication sent to members last Friday. We should have consulted with our members broadly and, in particular, members of the BIPOC caucus who are directly affected by systemic racism on a regular basis. In neglecting to do so, we sent a communication that failed to acknowledge the complex relationship between academic freedom and the realities of systemic racism and, especially, the ways in which the former can contribute to the latter. We should have recognized this, particularly in the context of the global Black Lives Matter movement and the many incidents of racism on and off campus. This directly influences our working, pedagogical, and personal relationships here at the University of Ottawa. We are firmly committed to moving forward on this issue and doing the hard work to be better allies to BIPOC communities.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the bullying, cyber-bullying, doxxing, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and threats to which members of our community have been subjected. These actions have absolutely no place at our University. They serve only to steer us away from one another and from our common objective of establishing a safe environment in which to exchange and share knowledge. Any member finding themselves in such a situation can count on the APUO’s full support. At a time in which our community is under immense pressure having to contend with the Covid-19 pandemic, the SSUO strike, and a series of racist incidents on campus, we must not lose sight of the fact we are all part of this university community. The APUO asks for respect and support among members, our students, our SSUO colleagues, and every member of the uOttawa community.
The APUO will continue to vigorously defend the rights of all of its members as outlined in our collective agreement, including academic freedom. This said, in the defence of one principle, like academic freedom, we cannot abandon our objective of addressing systemic racism and ensuring a respectful, safe, and equitable university community for all. It is incumbent on all of us to examine the structures that contribute to systemic racism. We hope to work with all of you in addressing the current challenges we are facing as professors and librarians.
As your Union Executive, we can and must do better. The APUO will follow up on this message.