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This past weekend, Michael Korenberg, the Chair of the Board of Governors, informed the Board and the university that he was stepping down after social media interactions that, in his own words, “thoughtlessly supported regressive voices which are attempting to discredit broad-based, legal and necessary protest” (https://bog.ubc.ca/statement-from-michael-korenberg). We acknowledge both Mr. Korenberg’s apology and his contributions as Chair of the Board of Governors.
Both individual acts of racism and systemic racism harm Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in Canada. Just in the past 10 days, we have seen far too many examples of individual and systemic racism against Black and Indigneous people and members of other marginalized communities.
As I said in my statement on UBC and systemic racism (https://president.ubc.ca/letter-to-the-community/2020/06/16/ubc-committee-on-systemic-racism/) racism and bias have no place in our community and where it is found, there must be accountability. Racism requires systemic solutions and effort from all of us as a community. We must all play a role in fighting hatred, oppression, violence and injustice and find ways to support and respect those who have been historically, systematically and persistently marginalized.
It is critical for the entire university to demonstrate its absolute commitment to BIPOC faculty, students, and staff and to anti-racism and anti-discrimination. I am committed to doing that work, beginning with consultations with the UBC Black Caucus, Indigenous and Asian groups and other marginalized communities.
It is fitting that last week we observed both Juneteenth, marking the anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States, and National Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrating the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Let us maintain this social momentum and continue to push for positive structural change, both here at UBC and in society at large.
I look forward to working with Interim Board Chair Sandra Cawley, the Board of Governors, and the entire UBC community as we move forward.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor
* This message was originally sent on June 22, 2020, to faculty, staff and students in Vancouver and the Okanagan. It was revised on July 2, 2020, to recognize the contributions of Mr. Korenberg as Board Chair.
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