Located in the UBC Life building, the Wellness Centre is a peer-hosted space offering a range of wellbeing programs for students. They aim to help students to achieve their personal and academic goals through a healthy mind, body, and spirit. The Wellness Centre considers EDI a foundational part of promoting student wellbeing, however they wanted a more systematized way to address EDI in their work. The Wellness Centre has various student ambassador programs and decided to use the EIO’s Inclusion Self-Assessment Tool (ISAT) with students in their peer volunteer programs as a way to give the students dedicated time to learn about EDI as well as increasing students’ sense of belonging in the Centre.
EDI initiative implemented
Starting October 2020, the Wellness Centre began the implementation of the ISAT. In addition to the common approach of engaging staff members in the assessment, staff added an additional layer by engaging with student volunteers, using the ISAT as a prompt to deepen EDI training for the student volunteers.
The Wellness Centre held two Zoom sessions with each of its peer volunteer programs built around the ISAT. The sessions were facilitated by staff in the Health Promotion and Education team that the students were familiar with, but did not regularly work closely with.
The first meeting was a one hour framing session. Staff combined key terms and definitions that are used in the ISAT with elements of the Community Building Education training that all student leaders at UBC receive. They also created a scenario where they asked students to unpack their own unconscious biases that might be resulting in their own bias in terms of how they engage in their distinct volunteer roles as Peer Health Educators or Wellness Peers.
The second meeting, a week later, was a one hour ISAT session. Staff invited students to reflect on the previous week’s discussions, and then were split into small groups to discuss the ISAT statements, in groups themed around the different categories of the ISAT including climate and culture; recruitment; retention, and success; and learning, research, and engagement. Students used Google Docs to capture their thoughts and feedback about these topics. After the meeting, the student volunteers were sent the four reflection questions for personal feedback about their thoughts about EDI in the unit now that they have engaged in the two synchronous meetings.
After these two meetings and survey, the Wellness Centre tasked two Worklearn students to collate the responses to pull out key words and themes to identify what was coming up around the different categories. Student training was a prominent theme cross-cutting the different ISAT categories, with students expressing their desire for more training on EDI issues. After processing all the information, the Wellness Centre ended up with a document of recommendations from the students, containing short, medium, and long term goals.
Tracking progress and learning
The Wellness Centre has started to implement many of the tasks in the recommendations document. One prominent change has been the creation of an IBPOC Wellness Mentors program based on feedback from this process and other conversations occurring in the unit.
Leaders of this initiative note that the ISAT enabled everyone in the unit to reflect on how their programs serve diverse students, and to be more intentional about which student groups to partner with.
The ISAT resulted in a large volume of data, which was a lesson learned for the unit. It was a time-intensive process to review and analyze 50 pages of data from the sessions with student volunteers. Dedicating student staff time to this analysis was key to ensuring that the exercise of working with the ISAT could lead to actual changes in the way the unit operates and approaches its work.
Beyond this initiative, the Wellness Centre also identified an opportunity to be more intentional across all their work to emphasize the intersections of wellbeing and EDI, focusing on health equity, and how systems of oppression impact health.
Amanda Unruh, Health Promotion Specialist, UBC Wellness Centre
YEAR OF IMPLEMENTATION