A new campaign encourages students to challenge prejudice with one word: Really?
Consider this scenario: your class breaks off into discussion groups and a classmate keeps saying “that’s so retarded!” whenever she disagrees with someone.
Or this: A new classmate says he’s from Toronto. A friend, judging the newcomer by his appearance, asks him: Where are you really from?
What would you do?
If your instinct is to look the other way from precarious situations or scenes of discrimination and prejudice, a new diversity program wants to motivate and empower you to do the right thing.
A series of situations – spanning topics from sexual assault to racism, to homophobia – will greet students this fall on digital signs and posters around campus, followed with a single, thought-provoking word: Really.
“We want students to not only recognize hate and discrimination, but play an active role in creating inclusive and respectful environments on campus,” says Janet Mee, Director of Access and Diversity at UBC. “So we’re providing strategies to help students address these issues in a manner that is safe and productive.”
The program provides resources such as “response cards” that address various circumstances and 11 ways to respond to discrimination. It also offers a workshop – facilitated by student volunteers and includes mini-lectures, videos, role play and group discussions – that gives students the skills to effectively and safely intervene in situations of discrimination and prejudice. So far, 32 facilitators have completed the two-day training program, including JumpStart and Imagine UBC leaders and residence advisors.
Navi Dasanjh, who graduated this spring, was one of the first facilitators to have completed training during the pilot phase of the program.
“I got involved because I noticed the need to engage the UBC community in conversations around violence and oppression,” says Dosanjh, who completed training in the fall of 2012. “UBC is one of the most diverse institutions in the world – ethnically, culturally, socially and academically – but having such vast differences can also lead to conflict.
“I love that the campaign not only creates an open environment to discuss ‘taboo’ subjects, but takes an active-bystander approach, equipping workshop participants with tools to feel empowered and be an active voice when witnessing an act of violence.”
For more information, visit really.ubc.ca.
Hi-res versions of the Really campaign posters can be found here
Rez pledge challenges students to “pay attention”
Students living in residence at UBC this fall can show their commitment to diversity by taking part in “Project Pay Attention.”
Adapted from a New York University initiative, the project is focused around a pledge that encourages students to follow six tenets:
- Speak up for others
- Choose my words wisely
- Track my online behaviour
- Challenge myself
- Spread the word
The pledge and more information will be available in all UBC residences.