The hiring and requested firing of Glenn De Caire
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The Silhouette sincerely apologizes to Glenn De Caire for the false contents found in the previous version of the article "The hiring and requested firing of Glenn De Caire,” published on thesil.ca and distributed across campus on March 24, 2016. The disparaging statements made about Glenn De Caire are entirely untrue and are hereby unconditionally retracted by The Silhouette. Amendments to the online article were made on April 4, 2016.
On Dec. 18, 2015, McMaster announced that former Police Chief of Hamilton Police Services, Glenn De Caire, had been hired as the Director of Parking and Security Services, a senior administrative position within the University. De Caire announced his retirement from Police Services this past November and began his role on campus on Jan. 17 amidst a protest outside his office. The protest, organized by the Revolutionary Students Movement, was against the influence of police patrol on campus and has since spit-balled into a larger petition and campaign and a motion by the Student Representative Assembly for the Students' Union to advocate for De Caire's removal. While the student body is taking actions to protest De Caire's place on campus, members of the hiring board stand by their decision and the process that went into his eventual selection for the job.
Hiring the Director of Parking and Security Services requires a committee of known stakeholders from across the University’s administration. This year’s committee featured six McMaster employees, all from different departments of the University. This year’s board included: outgoing Director, Terry Sullivan; Assistant Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer, Mohamed Attalla; Assistant Vice President and Director of Teaching and Learning at MIIETL, Arshad Ahmad; Assistant Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Wanda McKenna; Director of Public and Community Relations, Gord Arbeau; and President of the McMaster Students Union, Ehima Osazuwa.
“This was a national search,” said Arbeau.
“There were a series of advertisements across the country to encourage applicants. I think we had well over 100 applicants for this position.”
“The job description was developed — it was the existing job description that was updated from the last time we hired a director — and it is quite a lengthy document … and then there were a series of advertisements across the country to encourage applicants. I think we had well over 100 applicants for this position,” he said.
The search committee had no shortage of applicants, with resumes coming in from across the country. To compile this extensive list, three members of the committee — Atalla, McKenna and Sullivan — worked with a third party hiring group to narrow down the search.
“I never knew the 100 people that applied, they narrowed it down to five people,” said Osazuwa, another member of the hiring committee.
“I got to read the applications and we had an interview process with each of the five candidates,” he said.
Terry Sullivan, the outgoing director and one of the key stakeholders in hiring, is a former employee of Hamilton Police Services. Previously working as a Superintendent and Division Supervisor with the HPS, Sullivan became Parking and Security Director in 2005. Him and De Caire have been known to be in touch through their connection to HPS, making his selection for the top five unsurprising.
“We looked for an understanding of McMaster, an understanding of its traditions and culture of inclusivity, an understanding and awareness of how this role fits into this inclusivity and its culture, and the committee would hear from the various applicants about how they would fit into this existing culture,” said Arbeau.
While the University stressed inclusivity in their hiring, the HPS and its members have a history with the controversial practice of carding, or “street checks.” Street checks were originally developed as a tool to document illicit activities in municipal areas and were previously known as Field Information Reports. The process allowed a registered police officer to stop and question someone on the street asking for personal information like their name, age, height, eye colour and a description of their activities at the time. Over time, carding in North America became a practice used to racially profile predominantly young non-white men, and legally document and target their actions through police surveillance. While De Caire denounced the racial profiling element of the practice, carding is still stated to be a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and as of March 22, 2015, an amendment to the provincial Police Services Act states that carding will be an officially illegal practice as of January 1, 2017.
Information about HPS’ use of this practice over the past few years was publicly available, but the University did not present any of these details to the hiring committee. It was up to their own initiative to do any background checks outside of what would have been done by the three hiring committee representatives in the preliminary hiring stages.
“I expect the university to do that background [check] before presenting candidates to me,” said Osazuwa.
Osazuwa also mentioned that during the hiring committee’s assessment of De Caire’s interview, resume and cover letter, none of the members brought up the darker details of his history with Police Services.
After the interview process, De Caire was selected for the job and offered a Letter of Employment from the University. The letter does not define a set amount of time for De Caire’s role on campus, and instead the position will exist for him as long as he chooses to continue in the job and is not removed from campus.
The job will see a drop in salary for De Caire, with the most recent Director, Terry Sullivan, making $133,852 annually, but the long-term position also delivers a level of security that his previous police job did not offer.
Nick Abrams, a fourth-year Anthropology and Religious Studies student, is a member of the Revolutionary Students Movement and one of the key planners in the initial protests and campaigning around De Caire’s hiring.
The first protest against De Caire’s hiring happened on his first day on the job. The assembled team of students eventually turned the protest into an online petition that received 228 signatures of support in its first week. Shortly after the release of the petition, the campaign was translated into a motion at the MSU’s General Assembly on March 14.
The General Assembly accepted proposed motions from across the student body, and the RMS, in partnership with the McMaster Womanists, the Revolutionary Communist Party, McMaster United in Colour, and several other student groups motioned for “the General Assembly [to] endorse this campaign to get Glenn De Caire Off Campus … call on the university to terminate Glenn De Caire from [his] position of head of Security and Parking … call on the university to end its campaign of increasing the presence of police on our campus.”
“We have to force awkward conversations between the President of the MSU and President of the University, which I’m excited about,” said Abrams.
The University has not officially attempted to increase the presence of police on campus, but the hiring of a former police officer has led some to speculate about the future of on-campus security.
“I expect the university to do that background [check] before presenting candidates to me.”
The full motion passed with more than 80 percent of voters in favour at the General Assembly. But since the GA did not reach quorum, the motion was taken to the Student Representative Assembly to make a final decision on the MSU’s stance.
At the March 20 SRA meeting, the governing body of the MSU voted in favour of the motion, meaning it is now a responsibility of the MSU to talk to University administration to advocate for his removal and clearer outlines for the future of campus security.
“The goal is to get him off campus … and to also implement something to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” said Kayonne Christy, a fourth-year Life Sciences student, President of the McMaster Womanists and one of the campaign’s coordinators.
The motion also called for “the university to form a new hiring committee made up of students, faculty, and campus support staff to make the new hire.” The current hiring committee is not seen as fit to make a new decision if De Caire is eventually removed from the campus.
“Something like this should have been a lot more known. And the fact that they hired him during exam time seems pretty sketchy,” said Christy. “A lot of students are going home, a lot of students are stressed with schools, and no one’s really focusing on that… They should have been a lot more transparent and a lot more honest about this.”
“In general, it just seems weird that the university would hire someone that used to be a Chief of Police to the position — are the students criminals?” added Abrams.
“Realistically speaking, the University is not going to get rid of Glenn because we ask them to. But I think it is important that we have these student voices,” said Osazuwa, the link between the MSU and University administration.
After the March 21 SRA meeting, Osazuwa spoke with President Patrick Deane about the motion, and hopes to continue the conversation with Deane and Gord Arbeau for the rest of his term.
“I read the motion as one way: trying to make the campus safer for more people. And if there are certain individuals people feel uncomfortable around, we need to address that issue… I don’t know if getting rid of Glenn is the best solution, but we need to do something,” said Osazuwa.
Osazuwa feels that there are a variety of measures that can be taken to create the safer space students are demanding. It is all part of an ongoing discussion and no concrete plans or intentions have been put forward.
“Part of me is also worried that summer months are coming and that the conversation is going to die off. I don’t think that is the right approach, I think we need to have this conversation head on and try to come to a solution that is best for all parties — the MSU, Glenn, the University, the people that are uncomfortable — I don’t want it to slip under the rug.”
While Osazuwa is the current liaison, some responsibility to pursue these changes also rests on the shoulders of incoming President-Elect Justin Monaco-Barnes who will assume Osazuwa’s responsibilities as of May 1.
“[Justin] has been very good at listening to what is happening… I’m trying to do this as best as I can so I don’t leave Justin in a very uncomfortable situation.”
“I recommended to Patrick [Deane] that the university should have Glenn talk about this. Glenn cannot hide, it is good for him to come out and have this conversation.”
Parking and Security Services has yet to reach out to the MSU about this conversation and has instead routed McMasters Public and Communications Department to address the situation.
“I recommended to Patrick that the university should have Glenn talk about this. Glenn cannot hide, it is good for him to come out and have this conversation.”
De Caire contacted The Silhouette after our initial editorial on his hiring [“On background checks,” Jan. 28, 2016] was released. After recent attempts to reach out to him, we were redirected to Gord Arbeau. He stated, “Any questions about the Director of Security and questions about the process in which he was hired would be referred to [him],” according to a recent policy implemented by the University during these past few weeks.
As the conflict surrounding De Caire’s hiring and request for firing develops, we hope to hear from the new Director himself in regards to his plans for his time at McMaster and his reaction to this motion from the student body.