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Over the last year, UBC has launched a series of initiatives addressing systemic racism within our community.
They include launching an Anti-Racism Initiatives Fund on both campuses, providing $200,000 for cultural programming; launching the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Program to support recruitment and scholarships for Black Canadian students; hosting Canada’s first National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism; launching UBC’s Inclusion Action Plan and establishing a task force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE).
The ARIE task force is led by Handel Wright, Senior Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence, and Shirley Chau, who is co-chair of the task force. Ainsley Carry, Vice-President, Students, and Ananya Mukherjee Reed, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Okanagan, were also assigned as executive co-leads to support implementation of the task force recommendations.
Since beginning its work in April 2021, the ARIE task force has made more than 50 recommendations which are currently under review by the relevant stakeholder groups. While the entire set of recommendations is still being considered, a select number received sufficient support to be implemented during the 2021/22 academic year. They include:
- The need for sustained Anti-Racism training and education.
Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (IBPOC) members of the UBC community face race-based discrimination in the classroom and in work spaces. The task force recommends ongoing education and professional development to increase knowledge and skills necessary to reduce and prevent racial discrimination.
- Increasing recruitment and retention of Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour (IBPOC) faculty.
IBPOC faculty are underrepresented among UBC faculty. The task force recommends UBC make intentional efforts to recruit and retain faculty members from underrepresented groups, especially Indigenous and Black scholars.
- Create pathways for IBPOC success within the talent pipeline: recruitment, hiring, performance, succession planning, retention.
The lack of defined career pathways negatively impacts career advancement of IBPOC faculty and staff. Many IBPOC faculty and staff leave UBC due to systemic barriers impacting their career. The task force recommends UBC improve career pathways — recruitment through retirement — to increase chances to attract and retain IBPOC applicants and employees.
- Develop and establish mechanisms of accountability through race-based data and reporting.
UBC lacks disaggregated racial data. As a result, employment and pay equity is clouded, institutional knowledge of racial representation is minimal, and racial incidents remain unanalyzed. The task force recommends a systemic approach to institutional data collection and reporting on disaggregated race data for students, faculty, and staff.
- Improve Black student mental health and wellness.
Black students face an increasing amount of stress and anxiety. However, Black mental health services are limited. Therefore, the task force recommends increased Black representation in health and wellness services, education and training of service providers, increase resources to support understanding about race and racism, and bolster emergency health services.
- Racial justice commitment for change.
Many institutions have adopted racial justice statements to express their commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. The task force recommends amplifying efforts to eliminate racism by introducing several anti-racist statements in a race-specific commitment.
- Improvements in the system for handling complaints involving IBPOC.
UBC’s systems for handling complaints are flawed. IBPOC members are left feeling vulnerable and unheard. The task force recommends revised policies and procedures to resolve complaints, including and especially cases involving IBPOC.
We would like to thank the members of the ARIE task force for their diligent effort and commitment to this important work. Our work, of course, is not done. Many more recommendations are being prepared for implementation in the coming months. We look forward to providing further updates as this important work progresses. Please visit https://antiracism.ubc.ca for more information about our commitments and actions.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor
Ananya Murkherjee Reed
Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UBC Okanagan
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