University of Waterloo employee accused of attacking Black law student
Irene Ekweozoh, Nigerian-Canadian and Ph.D student at the University of Ottawa, says she was harassed and targeted by her neighbour Erin Farrow, who works as the Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President at the University of Waterloo’s Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion office.
In a story published by ByBlacks.com, Ekweozoh alleges that in Feb. 2020, Farrow yelled at her and her daughter when they had left their bags in the hallway of their building after returning from a trip.
When Ekweozoh explained that the bags were her property, Farrow responded by saying; “Don’t talk back at me! If you talk back at me, I’ll send my dog to attack you!”
Ekweozoh reported that Farrow then set her dog upon her, which led to Ekweozoh injuring her ankle while trying to escape. The dog was once again set upon her when she went to collect her bags from the hall.
Ekweozoh says that she then called the Waterloo Regional Police. She alleges that when an officer showed up two hours later, they told her that no offence was committed as neither Ekweozoh or her daughter had been bitten.
When she later went to file a complaint to WRPS, she claims they dismissed her by saying they would follow up. Ekweozoh said she had not heard from the officer as of Sept. 30.
On Sept. 18, Ekweozoh alleges that she was exercising in the hallway of her building when Farrow questioned her on why she was exercising in the hall. Ekweozoh ignored her and continued.
The next day on Sept. 19, Ekweozoh says she was exercising in the hallway again when she was questioned by Farrow who was accompanied by her dog and boyfriend. She ignored them again until they left and returned, dropping her dog’s leash who then ran towards her.
Ekweozoh said she escaped, but sustained a cut on her stomach. She says she reached out to the Humane Society, the police officer and the building management but received no responses.
On Sept. 27, Ekweozoh returned to the hallway to exercise again, using a broomstick to support her as she walked. Ekweozoh claims that Farrow emerged from her apartment and lowered her mask to cough in her face as she passed by.
Ekweozoh attempted to escape once again when Farrow accused Ekweozoh of trying to harm her with the broomstick. Farrow then proceeded to call the police.
The police allegedly showed up within twenty minutes, handcuffed Ekweozoh and told her she would be charged for assault with a weapon. She says that the officers refused to mention her own version of events in the incident report.
Rebecca Elming, Manager of Media Relations at UW gave a statement on behalf of the University of Waterloo, in response to the allegations.
“The University of Waterloo is aware of the alleged incident. Though we do not normally comment on individual employee matters, our expectation is that all staff and students contribute to a just and supportive community, based on respect. Appropriate University leaders are working to understand the full picture of this situation so we can best serve community and University interests,” the statement read.