A year after its inception, UBC’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Task Force has released its report.
The report contains 54 recommendations to address systemic racism against Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) within the UBC community and to promote inclusive excellence across UBC’s two campuses. The recommendations, which are summarized in six committee reports, collectively underscore the reality that UBC has a deep-seated problem of institutionalized, systemic, and other forms of racism that cut across its various units on both campuses, and affect Indigenous and racialized students, faculty, and staff.
“I would like to thank the co-chairs and members of the ARIE Task Force for their courage, energy, compassion, and hard work in producing this report. I believe that every member of the UBC community will benefit by studying its insights and recommendations,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Santa J. Ono. “As the report notes, ‘The ARIE Task Force report speaks truth for equity and justice. It is an invitation to members of the UBC community and others to find what resonates for them and inspires individual and collective action that contributes to making the University of British Columbia an anti-racist and inclusively excellent place to learn, work, live, and thrive.’”
President Ono announced the creation of the ARIE Task Force in December 2020 after reaffirming UBC’s institutional commitment to addressing systemic racism and calling for an acceleration and intensification of efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive campus community. The ARIE Task Force report joins the Indigenous Strategic Plan, the Inclusion Action Plan and other projects as primary aspects of UBC’s continuing efforts to address all forms of discrimination and to make for a more equitable and inclusively excellent institution.
“As a university with campuses on Musqueam and Syilx territory, and as an institution of Canadian society, UBC is committed to dismantling mechanisms of oppression that still exist in our systems and to make the university more diverse and inclusive,” said Dr. Ono. “We are prepared to do the hard work to move beyond words and take meaningful action against systemic racism.”
UBC Okanagan’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr. Lesley Cormack points to the campus’s 2019 commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action, as concrete action toward tackling systemic racism. UBCO was established, in 2005, in partnership with the Syilx Okanagan Nation with commitments to access and success for all Indigenous students.
“Racism cannot be tolerated in any setting, not least on a university campus, and tackling it and its harmful repercussions is an undertaking that calls on everyone,” says Dr. Cormack. “While our campus has made great strides, especially with our Syilx partners and Truth and Reconciliation commitments, we must continue to push forward. The recommendations of the ARIE Task Force will be an important tool in our work to make real and meaningful changes that eliminate racism in all its forms.”
The Task Force, which was comprised of 34 faculty, students and staff from both campuses, began its work in March 2021, establishing six constituent committees—the Indigenous Committee, Blackness Committee, People of Colour Committee, Students Committee, Staff Committee, and Faculty Committee—each of which had a mandate to operate relatively independently.
“The ARIE Task Force has produced a particularly comprehensive set of recommendations that name and address racism at UBC in its various forms, including its intersection with other identity categories, including but not limited to gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ability,” said ARIE Task Force Co-Chair, Senior Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence and Professor in the Department of Educational Studies in the Faculty of Education at UBC Vancouver, Dr. Handel K. Wright. “This was very hard work—sometimes wrenching and other times exhilarating heart work—and the resulting report can be read as a cohesive whole or indeed as six individual and constitutive reports on how to address racism against Indigenous, Black and People of Colour students, staff and faculty at UBC. Task Force members are united in the view that what is most important is that all the recommendations are accepted and implemented.”
“The ARIE Task Force report adds an important chapter in the history of UBC as it goes beyond the numbers and charts often used to present that diversity exists,” said ARIE Task Force Co-Chair and Associate Professor in the School of Social Work in the Faculty of Health and Social Development at UBC Okanagan, Dr. Shirley Chau. “It is a work of solidarity built from the lived experiences and institutional knowledge of the Task Force members. Intersectionality of identities and intersectional analysis were the foundation of the development of the recommendations that recognize the nuances of systemic racism. Of critical importance is the identification of racialized sexism and its deep impacts on Indigenous and racialized people, which is amplified through the work of the Task Force. The Task Force report can serve as a tool to take action in changing policies, practices, and institutional culture to stop the systemic and naturalized practices of exclusion and discrimination.”
From the individual committee reports, six major themes emerged:
- There is a need for anti-racist education for all individuals at UBC, including senior administration
- There is a need to both recruit and retain IBPOC faculty members and staff
- There is a need for developing a system for handling complaints involving IBPOC faculty members, staff and students
- There is a need to establish and routinize anti-racism as academic, intellectual and activist work at UBC, including through an office and a living library
- The well-being and sense of belonging of IBPOC members of the community featured prominently in the recommendations
- Finally, action is required to address workload inequities experienced by IBPOC faculty members and staff
The report signals the completion of the ARIE Task Force’s work. All of the 54 recommendations have been reviewed by relevant stakeholder groups as part of an engagement process. Several recommendations have already been implemented, and others are in the planning stage. This work is being led by UBC Vice-President Students Dr. Ainsley Carry and UBC Okanagan Provost and Vice-President Academic pro tem Dr. Rehan Sadiq, who both serve as UBC’s co-executive leads for anti-racism, providing a critical bridge between the UBC executive, the ARIE Task Force, and IBPOC community members.
“The ARIE Task Force recommendations will contribute to us addressing the scourge of racism directly to help make UBC a university characterized by inclusive excellence,” said Dr. Carry. “In the coming weeks and months, the university will examine the recommendations in detail to determine the best forms of implementation.”
“Addressing racism as an institution is a key priority for UBC, indeed an issue that needs to be addressed globally,” said Dr. Rehan Sadiq. “We are grateful to the ARIE Task Force members for their contributions to this very difficult but important work that will serve as the foundation of our university’s efforts to build a more inclusive community.”
The full report and its 54 recommendations are available at antiracism.ubc.ca.
On Friday, April 22, the ARIE Task Force report will launch at an event featuring remarks from the Task Force co-chairs and UBC leadership, as well as a panel discussion about the recommendations made by the Task Force, and the next steps UBC will be taking.
Date/Time: Friday, April 22, 3:30-5 p.m.
Location: Jack Poole Hall – Robert H Lee Alumni Centre, 6163 University Blvd., Vancouver, B.C.
Livestream via Zoom Webinar: https://ubc.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nB_CR-YTQYKA_MbBBcBLvA
Media wishing to attend the launch event are asked to register in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that non-medical masks are required in all public indoor spaces at UBC.