Update on UBC’s initiatives to address anti-racism

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In recent months, President Santa J. Ono has articulated UBC’s commitment to inclusivity and to addressing systemic racism.

As part of this commitment, President Ono appointed us to serve as Executive Co-Leads to “… provide a critical bridge between the UBC Executive and the members of the UBC community who self-identify as Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC).”

Last week President Ono announced the appointment of Dr. Handel Kashope Wright as the Senior Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence. In addition to this, we are in the process of establishing an Anti-Racism Advisory Task Force, and will provide further updates in the near future.

Recognizing the importance of addressing systemic racism within our community, we would also like to highlight four student-focused initiatives:

The Anti-Racism Initiatives Fund: We have heard from students, faculty, and staff, that funding is needed to support their anti-racism initiatives. Effective January 2021, a fund of $200,000 will be available to support UBC groups and organizations across both campuses to host speakers, programs, and events that advance our anti-racism goals. Information on how to apply for the funding will be made available in January 2021.

Administrative support for IBPOC students to develop anti-racist initiatives: Students have asked us to provide staff to support IBPOC student clubs and organizations as they develop cultural programs and services to serve the UBC community. On the Okanagan campus, Perpetuah Muthui (Pep) will be available to provide support to IBPOC students. Pep works as an Inclusion Strategist for UBC Okanagan. At the Vancouver campus, a role will be created and filled early in Winter Session Term 2, that will serve in a similar capacity working with students, faculty, and staff to advance cultural and anti-racism programming focused on students.

These efforts complement work already being done by Adrienne Vedan, Senior Advisor on Indigenous Affairs (UBC Okanagan) and the Aboriginal Centre of UBC Okanagan, as well as Allison Beardsworth, Associate Director, Strategic Indigenous Enrolment Initiatives (UBC Vancouver) on Indigenous student programs and services.

Webinar series on systemic racism: Since March 2020, we have hosted a webinar series on systemic racism. The series has featured speakers from Canada and internationally, and will continue to do so. If you would like to suggest particular topics or speakers featured in this series, please write to the Office of the Provost, UBC Okanagan to Raina Reddecliff, (raina.reddecliff@ubc.ca). In your email please provide the proposed topic area, its relevance and proposed speakers.

Collaboration with Faculties: We are aware that a lot of excellent work is taking place in the Faculties on both campuses. We will be reaching out to Faculty teams on a regular basis to identify initiatives that can be adopted more widely at UBC. We have had our first meeting with the Faculty of Medicine and will meet with other Faculties over the next couple of months.

Thank you for your time and patience as we work with members of our community to advance important initiatives to create a more inclusive UBC.

Ainsley Carry
Vice-President, Students

Ananya Mukherjee Reed
Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Okanagan

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