by Maurice Cacho
Associate News Editor
Ryerson University has a new policy for dealing with external law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of the March 2005 arrest, and consequent deportation, of CKLN programmer Wendy Maxwell.
Under the new policy, inquiries from Canadian Border Services, Canadian Secret Intelligence Service and the RCMP will be referred to Julia Lewis, associate director of Ryerson security, and “as needed” to Linda Grayson, vice-president administration and student affairs.
On March 5, during events for International Women’s Day, Wendy Maxwell, who was living in Toronto illegally, was arrested by Toronto police on campus with the co-operation of Ryerson security. She was subsequently deported to Costa Rica on March 14.
A motion was put forward to review security protocols at an Academic Council meeting last May. Some council members were concerned that Maxwell’s arrest would discourage other illegal immigrants from participating in immigration studies conducted at Ryerson.
Grayson said she is not aware of faculty experiencing any difficulties with research as a result of Maxwell’s deportation. However, she said the university needs to make sure it doesn’t compromise its academic principles in the future.
“We have to be sure that … the academic values and traditions of the university are part of how the decisions are made,” Grayson said.
“Everything is connected to everything else in the social fabric of the university, so a decision here can have unintended consequences somewhere else.”
In a telephone interview from Costa Rica, Maxwell said confidentiality needs to be maintained at Ryerson for research efforts to be successful. She said security should work more closely with the university.
“A lot of the ground-breaking work happens at the university,” said Maxwell. “I don’t think (security is) on the same page as the faculty is.”
Grayson said an individual’s previous criminal history will be considered when security co-operates with external agencies.
“If it’s an issue of personal safety for anyone in our community, security will have to act quickly,” she said.
At the most recent Academic Council meeting on Oct. 11, a student asked if anyone from Ryerson had tried to contact Maxwell to apologize for allowing Ryerson security to turn her in to the authorities.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said this was something he would look into once he has all the facts about the case.
“I have to know all the legal implications and I’m still evaluating my responsibilities,” Levy said.
Maxwell said she still feels betrayed by Ryerson for allowing her arrest on campus.
“It was very hurtful,” she said.