uOttawa student protesters hold sit-in outside president’s office

A group of University of Ottawa students held a sit-in all weekend long outside the office of university president Jacques Frémont, calling for structural changes on campus to combat racism.

They say they’re willing to stay there until they can meet with Frémont.

“We genuinely want change, and we want to see it through. We are willing to stay here until our demands are met,” said Judy El-Mohtadi.

The protesters, which include a core group of about a dozen students as well as supporters who have joined the sit-in in Taberet Hall for periods of time since it began on Friday afternoon, say they want less talk.

“We have been trying to work with the central administration for more than a year now and it has been super-ineffective,” said El-Mohtadi.

Among other measures, the students are calling for the university to hire an anti-racism officer at the executive level, with funds and staffing, reporting directly to the board of governors.

They also want a mandatory anti-racism course for all undergraduate students and a commitment to hiring Black professors with expertise in areas such as anti-Black racism.

“This not the first time we have been asking for these things,” said student Jamal Boyce, one of the organizers of the sit-in.

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