Along with many education leaders, including President Ono, I join my colleagues in condemning the racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic acts that we have seen recently. Through its policies, statements and plans, UBC has made an unequivocal commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and mutual respect. As an educational institution freedom of speech and academic freedom are at the core of the work that we do. These values are not in tension with our commitment to a respectful environment, instead we encourage the free, respectful expression of ideas through debate and discussion. President Toope’s words from 2009 are still relevant today:
“As a globally influential university, UBC is not, nor could it be, immune from conflicts half a world away. These conflicts are both a reminder of the rare peace we enjoy in Canada and a challenge to community values of respect for human dignity and the special place of free expression that universities protect. […] For a university, anything that detracts from the free expression of ideas is just not acceptable. […] Forms of speech should not be banned simply on the grounds that they are ‘offensive’ but if the speech is designed to preclude any speech in response, if it amounts to a threat against a person or an identifiable group, then a line will have been crossed.” Link.
Further resources and supports on respectful debate are available here: