Conflict Engagement Services through UBC Equity & Inclusion Office
Despite our best efforts to create a positive and supportive academic work environment, members of the UBC community regularly find themselves in conflictual situations.
In most cases, conflict emerges naturally out of our community’s diversity and multiplicity of views, cultures and experiences. Often conflict brings into light ways that we fail to understand each other, or systemic and structural barriers to inclusion we have not yet successfully addressed. If we know how to work with these conflicts, they can become the doorway to deeper understanding of what it means to live and work with others in equitable ways. In some cases, the presence of conflict signals infringement on a person’s protected rights. In those cases we follow a rigorous set of procedures to respond in accordance with applicable laws and policies.
Successful engagement with conflict through a full suite of appropriate methods is critical to ensuring the health of our community and can provide the conditions for transformative learning.
The Equity & Inclusion Office, through the positions of the Director, Dialogue and Conflict Engagement (Dr. Aftab Erfan) and the Human Rights Advisor (Vacant) employs both proactive and responsive measures to create a culture of productive conflict engagement. We provide the following types of support to the UBC community on the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Services are available at no cost to faculty, staff and students.
Services are available to students, faculty or staff members who believe they may have a human-rights based discrimination or harassment concern, which they are not able to address directly on their own or through their supervisor or another trusted resource. We offer a confidential conversation that can illuminate options for resolution (including mediation and other informal options) and/or referrals to other resources inside or outside UBC (including information on filing a complaint and launching an investigation).
Leaders may come to us to request assistance in designing and/or running processes that address contentious topics and difficult conversations within their units. We are available as an internal facilitation resource to address conflictual situations, including those that don’t require or seek an investigation, and those that may arise naturally (and can be addressed) in the course of routine operations (e.g. hiring, strategic planning etc.). Depending on the need, this service may include an internal climate audit, small group conversations, professionally facilitated large group meetings, and coordination or referrals to other resources inside or outside UBC.
Leaders can request semi-customized information and training sessions to build the understanding and skills of students, faculty, and staff to navigate difficult conversations and address conflict as it emerges in the context of their work, study, and life at UBC. This includes training on how to be in conflict more skillfully, and on how to facilitate processes for other people who are in conflict. We can also connect you with other resources on- and off-campus for further training or specialized skill building in these areas.
Book a general appointment:
Call or email the Equity & Inclusion Office at:
Book an appointment for specific concerns:
Book a consultation with the Human Rights Advisor (vacant). The initial consultation is for 30 minutes to discuss your concerns and work with you to determine next steps. Before an appointment can be booked you will be asked to fill out a confidential pre-appointment form and briefly describe the nature of your concern.
Make an appointment with Aftab Erfan, Director, Dialogue and Conflict Engagement to discuss the case and explore options. If it makes sense to work together, we then typically convene a small core group of 3-4 leaders from your unit to inform the design and implementation of a conflict engagement process.
Send a brief description of your capacity building need and/or request to Aftab Erfan, Director, Dialogue and Conflict Engagement. She will be in touch with you with appropriate information on next steps which will likely include a meeting and/or review of syllabus and other learning materials.
The following applies every time someone contacts our office:
We consider all personal information as well as reasons for reaching out to our office confidential. If disclosure of information is necessary in order to respond to a request, we work closely with the discloser(s) to determine the most productive way of sharing information. In exceptional circumstances, where required by law or where there is risk of significant harm to anyone’s health or safety, we may refer the matter to appropriate parties within UBC and/or notify third parties, such as the police or child protection authorities.
In carrying out conflict engagement work, our office maintains an impartial approach. Simply put, this means that we avoid taking sides or advocating for one opinion or perspective in a given conflict scenario. Rather, we strive to explore the differing perspectives at play and their intersection in service of greater understanding on all sides. We do, at the same time, maintain throughout all our work a strong commitment to the values of equity, diversity, and inclusivity, as well as the policies and procedures that exemplify those and other core ethical values of the university.
We do everything we can to make our services accessible. Those with accessibility needs are encouraged to let us know in advance of a meeting to arrange to accommodate their needs. Those for whom English is not a preferred language for discussing these issue, are encouraged to request a translator, or to bring someone who can translate for them to any meetings with us.
In the event that you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment it is your responsibility to contact both the person you are meeting with and the front desk staff in advance.
If you are dealing with an emergency or require after-hours assistance:
- Vancouver Crisis Line: 1.800.784.2433
- Vancouver General Hospital: 604.875.4111
- Campus RCMP: 604.224.1322
- Campus Security: 604.822.2222
- Emergency Services: 9.1.1
- Sexual Assault Support Centre – Room 3127, AMS Nest. Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8am-10pm
If you are experiencing an academic issue:
Undergraduate Students: Academic Advising Offices
UBC’s academic advising offices provide students with advising on program planning, degree requirements, and other course-related questions.