Student Diversity Initiative

UBC’s Engagement and Commitment to the Student Diversity Initiative

The Student Diversity Initiative (SDI) is an important initiative to address the complexities of the diversity of our campus at all levels – students, staff, and faculty. The SDI seeks to embed UBC’s core values of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the operations, systems, culture and organizational structures that directly impact the campus experience for diverse students.

Towards Inclusive Excellence

The Student Diversity Initiative has adopted Inclusive Excellence (IE) as the underlying principle for UBC to achieve its strategic vision for diversity and inclusion. Inclusive Excellence conceptualizes diversity beyond demographic features.

UBC’s Commitment to Diversity Fund and the Student Diversity Initiative enables the University to dialogue, evaluate, and respond to the deeper challenges of our diverse student population and campus experience. The Commitment to Diversity Fund scope is systemic and strategic, and will:

  • Focus on integrating diversity, inclusion and intercultural competencies into all aspects of the campus
  • Address priority populations as identified in the Get Set Phase consultations
  • Build sustainable plans, policies, practices, and support their implementation to ensure UBC achieves Inclusive Excellence
  • Build collaborative initiatives with faculties and units that are embedded in the local context, while building on their current successes

By working at a systems level and in deep collaboration with faculties, administrative units and students, the Commitment to Diversity Fund will support identified priorities across campus to embed and actualized values of equity, diversity, and inclusion at the unit and Faculty level and across the student campus experience.

Best practices to achieve Inclusive Excellence focus on the necessary structural and systemic changes that work towards embedding diversity systemically into programs, policies, and practices. Inclusive Excellence is fundamental to leveraging the quality presence and impact of the University in the broader society.

Next Steps for the Student Diversity Initiative – Vancouver Campus

Over the next few months, the Project Team will prioritize establishing a team of experts to begin to tackle some of the priorities identified through the consultation and dialogue processes. Part of the team whom we’ve called the SDI strategic support team (SST) will be based in the Equity & Inclusion Office, and will have responsibilities specific to Organizational Change, Strategy and Development, and Planning & Evaluation.

Other Strategic Support Team members will be embedded in faculties and units with formal partnerships to advance and support ongoing diversity and inclusion plans and priorities within that unit’s local context. First year partners include the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology and Student Development & Services with a focus on the diverse classroom climate and learning design, and the Equity & Inclusion Office with an Equity Facilitator focused on race and cultural competencies.

Programs and initiatives engaging students across the Vancouver campus will commence in the Fall 2017.

Together, the SDI Strategic Support Team through our partnerships and collaborations aim to catalyze and build a system wide foundation in order to support and embed diversity systemically and achieve Inclusive Excellence at UBC.

About UBC’s Engagement and Commitment to Student Diversity Initiative

In October 2015, the UBC Board of Governors approved a 46.8% increase in international student tuition. Concerned with the potential impact on the diversity of UBC’s student population, the UBC Alma Mater Society, and the UBC International Students’ Association submitted a proposal to the Board outlining concerns related to international tuition increases.

In recognition of the concerns raised and the changing dynamics of our student populations including the increase in the population and complexity of the diversity of our domestic and international students on our campuses, the Board of Governors established the UBC Commitment to Diversity Fund. These resources will strategically engage, enhance and embed diversity into our systems and operations.

Please see the Links & Resources Guide below for more information.

Background – Get Set Phase 1 and 2

Together with an advisory committee, the Provost and Vice-President Academic Pro Tem, Vice-President, Students, and Associate Vice-President, Equity & Inclusion have developed a strategic plan to allocate the resources.

Building on existing reports and plans, such as Valuing Difference (2010), Place and Promise (2012), and Implementing Inclusion (2013), a project team considered information from the Undergraduate Experience Survey data analysis, developed a comprehensive literature review, analyzed current best practice and relevant research, and consulted with key campus experts, partners, and stakeholders.

Student Consultation Overview

From January to March 2017, a series of seven, peer-led dialogue sessions were held with over seventy student leaders and students from representative groups. The groups were identified from the analysis of the 2016 Undergraduate Experience Survey as priority groups based on their sense of belonging to UBC and their experience in the academic environment.

Stakeholders include student leaders, including the Alma Mater Society and Graduate Student Society, to the Board of Governors and Senate student representatives. Stakeholders also include student-led clubs, associations, initiatives, and foundations that represent intersecting identities, especially student groups where recent data demonstrated favourable and unfavourable experiences at UBC.  The representative student groups include:

  • Indigenous and First Nations groups
  • Student of colour groups
  • Trans and Gender non-conforming students, Queer and LGBTQ groups
  • Mental health network
  • Asian/South-East Asian student groups
  • Transfer students

Students were engaged in conversations on diversity and inclusion to understand and clarify their perceptions on the identified sources of concerns in the experience of diverse students, and their insights into areas for change that would ensure a campus where all undergraduate students can academically thrive and feel they belong at UBC.

Six themes emerged from the student consultations around areas for concern and change: mental health resources; access to information and mentors; academic & classroom experience; equity and inclusion; intercultural experiences; and orientation to the university.

Advisory Committee Membership

  • Sunaina Assanand, Associate Dean, Student Success (Faculty of Arts)
  • Catherine Dauvergne, Dean (Peter A. Allard School of Law)
  • Blake Edwards, President (UBC Students’ Union Okanagan)
  • Jan Hare, Associate Dean, Indigenous Education (Faculty of Education)
  • Linc Kesler, Director and Senior Advisor on Aboriginal Affairs (First Nations House of Learning, President’s Office)
  • Karen McKellin, Executive Director (International Student Initiative)
  • Gurdeep Parhar, Executive Dean, Clinical Partnerships and Professionalism (Faculty of Medicine)
  • Pam Ratner, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Enrolment and Academic Facilities (Vice-President Academic and Provost’s Office)
  • Kate Ross, Associate Vice-President, Enrolment Services and Registrar (Enrolment Services)
  • Samantha So, Vice-President Academic (UBC Alma Mater Society)
  • Janet Teasdale, Managing Director, Student Development and Services
  • Jay Wickenden, Instructor (Department of Chemistry)

Project Team Membership

  • Sara-Jane Finlay, PhD, Project Lead (AVP, Equity & Inclusion)
  • Ben Pollard (Director, Vice-President Students Initiatives)
  • Jenna Omassi, Project Support (Advisor, Office of the Vice-President, Students)
  • Maureen Mendoza, Project Manager (Project Manager, Equity & Inclusion Office)

Facilitators & Consultants

  • Manjeet Birk, Consultation Facilitator (PhD Scholar, Faculty of Education)
  • Robert Daum, Advisor VP Students, Consultation Facilitator
  • Nitya Iyer, Consultation Facilitator (Partner, Lovett Westmacott)
  • Hazel Hollingdale, Research Assistant (PhD student, Department of Sociology)

Fund Breakdown

Get Set Phase: Year 1, 2016-17: $0.3 million
Year 2, 2017-18: $1.0 million
Year 3, 2018-19: $2.0 million
Future/ongoing: 2019-onwards: $2.0 million

For more information regarding the Student Initiative, e-mail Maureen Mendoza at

Background Links & Resources
Inclusive Excellence Resources