On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to welcome you to the Equity and Inclusion Office. As I take on my new role I would like to thank Dr. Gurdeep Parhar for his leadership as the Acting Associate Vice President, Equity and Inclusion for the last two years. Since 2013, he aptly guided the Office staff, and consulted with colleagues across the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses, during a challenging period of transition.
As I begin my term as Associate Vice President, Equity and Inclusion, my thoughts on the role of the Office and our priorities are guided by some key documents. The Equity and Inclusion Office envisions….
…a community in which human rights are respected and equity is embedded in all areas of academic, work and campus life. Through its leadership, vision and collaborative action, the Equity and Inclusion Office will further UBC’s commitment to excellence, equity and mutual respect.
In its Statement on Respectful Environment for Students, Faculty and Staff, the University commits itself to creating the best possible environment for working, learning and living where respect, civility, diversity, opportunity and inclusion are valued. This is a responsibility of all community members, and excellence in our scholarship, teaching, learning and work-related activities flows from an active concern and respect for others, including our ability to participate meaningfully in the life of the university (or campus) community.
These values – respect, civility, diversity, opportunity, inclusion – are key aspects of creating communities that flourish and are sustainable. ‘Social sustainability’ is about the resources, supports and capacities to create healthy and livable communities that are equitable, diverse, inclusive and connected – key drivers in the work of the Equity and Inclusion Office.
Capacity Building for Social Sustainability
Equity, inclusion and diversity are not the sole remit of this office. In fact for social sustainability to take place, responsibility for these values must be deeply vested in the institution and in each of the divisions across the University and its campuses. Therefore, it is not our intention to create ‘one-off’ solutions with little impact or staying-power. Rather this Office is primarily concerned with capacity building for social sustainability. We do this through three fundamental activities:-
- Education and Communication – whether encouraging communication of the wonderful initiatives that are occurring across the different divisions in the University or through custom-built presentations and workshops, a key role for the Equity & Inclusion Office is education and communication of the core values of mutual respect and equity.
- Proactive Initiatives – from developing resiliency to conflict management to creating important programs such as the Positive Space Campaign or events like Rule Out Racism week, the Equity & Inclusion Office has a central role in providing faculty, staff and students with the tools and skills they need to create a sustainable community.
- Compliance and Data Collection – through robust data collection and analysis as well as case and issues management, the Equity & Inclusion Office uses a research informed approach to all of its work.
Through these key measures and the many other activities of this office, we aim to support and enhance the understanding and commitment to equity and mutual respect, central tenets for a thriving academic life at UBC.
I look forward to the opportunity to meet many of you in the coming year and in working together at this great university.
Sara-Jane Finlay, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President, Equity & Inclusion