Launched in September 2010, the Student Civil Rights Information Project is a joint initiative between CRARR and Concordia and McGill student associations whose aim is to empower university students by informing them about their civil rights and recourses to use when faced with discrimination.
SCRIP was set up after CRARR was seized with a growing number of complaints involving male and female university students from racialized minority backgrounds, who claim to have been racially discriminated in employment, housing and public and private services such as the police, public transit and other private security guards in commercial establishments. Some of these cases include:
A, a Black Concordia student and sportsman, who was denied entrance in a downtown pub due to his clothes. All his white friends with similar clothing went in, but he was stopped at the door. CRARR took the case to the human rights commission; and a settlement was reached.
B, an Asian Concordia student from BC who was in a childless common-law relationship with a Quebec resident and who was denied loans and bursaries and Quebec student fee rates due to a provincial regulation that only recognizes a common law relationship for the purpose of financial aid for students when such a couple has a child together (CRARR successfully took her case to the provincial Ministry of Education, Sports and Leisure and Concordia University to the human rights commission, which recommended $11,800 in damages).
C, a Black McGill student, who was intercepted and arrested in the downtown Peel metro station for standing and talking to a Hispanic friend.
D, a Black Concordia student, who went home from a Concordia party and was intercepted, arrested and charged by the Montreal Police near his home in Montreal-North. CRARR's counsel got him win an acquittal and CRARR has filed a racial profiling complaint against the City of Montreal.
F, an Arab Concordia student, who was arrested downtown and fined $1,020 by two Montreal Police officers while walking home from the university library at night. CRARR helped file a civil rights complaint against the officers and the City of Montreal, and another police ethics complaint against the officers. Due negative public reaction, the City dropped the fines against her.
When faced with these complaints, CRARR representatives noted that university information materials for students lack adequate practical information for students (and employees) about their civil rights in daily contexts, in terms of recourses and contacts. Yet civil rights are integral to a high quality, equitable and safe learning environment for students; as well students must enjoy full civil rights protection on- as well as off-campus.
Furthermore, in addition to being educational service providers, universities are major employers: the main universities in the Montreal (McGill, Concordia, Université de Montréal and UQAM) employ more than 15,000 persons and are bound by the Quebec mandatory employment equity law to ensure fair employment opportunities for visible and ethnic minorities, women and Aboriginal persons.
During academic year 2010-2011, the following SCRIP activities were organized by CRARR in partnership with different university associations and services:
Two training sessions to Concordia student legal aid, housing and advocacy services.
One training session for different McGill student associations;
A press conference and an information campaign to encourage international students to combat predatory rental practices in housing;
Insertion of a civil rights information page in the Concordia Student Handbook;
Information to engineering student associations on the US International Traffic and Arms Regulations (ITAR) and its negative impact on employment opportunities for Canadian permanent residents and citizens born in countries deemed hostile to US security interests (such as Cuba, China, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc.). Under ITAR, Canadians are practically denied equal employment opportunities with private Canadian aerospace companies receiving US military contracts.
Assistance to and representation of an international student who was a victim of discrimination and other abusive rental practices by a downtown landlord known for these illegal and exploitative practices. A complaint was filed by CRARR on behalf of the student before the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, claiming more than $10,000 in damages for her.
Partners and sponsors of SCRIP include the office of Jacques Chagnon, Member of the Quebec National Assembly for Westmount-St-Louis; Concordia Student Union; CSU Legal Information Clinic; CSU HOJO (Housing and Job Office); CSU Student Advocacy Office, McGill University Social Equity and Diversity in Education (SEDE) Office and the Institute for Research and Education on Race Relations (IRERR)