On September 27, a university statement was posted to express concern for the situation in Iran emerging after the death of Mahsa Amini, and to acknowledge the courage of those standing up for human rights and freedoms. As the situation unfolds, and thousands of change agents and allies continue to gather in Iran, in Canada, and around the world, it is clear that the impacts on the Iranian diaspora and international scholars and learners at UBC will be protracted and profound.
In addition to a symbolic statement of support from the institution, there is much we can do as individual colleagues and as a collective community to demonstrate substantive actions in support of members of impacted communities. In particular, unit/people managers and academic instructors are encouraged to review the Equity & Inclusion Office’s Guidelines for responding to collective tragedies and hateful incidents, which center an ethics of care. An ethics of care invites us to exhibit compassion towards and afford flexibility for impacted students, faculty, and staff in the classroom and the workplace in the aftermath of such tragic global events. This guidance document is relevant for other current, ongoing, and future global and local events that profoundly impact the campus community given our rich diversity and our deep value for human rights and freedoms.
Among the ways to make a substantive difference to the experiences of impacted communities is to support community-led affinity spaces. Already, a number of such initiatives have been organized at UBCO to support Iranian communities. In the coming days and weeks, the UBC Iranian Professionals Network and the UBC Persian Club will be co-leading the curation of an on-site gathering and co-convening other spaces at the Vancouver campus for Iranian students, faculty, and staff. The goal is to offer safe spaces for connection, to give and receive community support, and to counteract feelings of isolation and helplessness. The Equity & Inclusion Office is pleased to assist in raising awareness for and helping to support this community-led initiative. More information about the gatherings will be forthcoming.
Finally, to promote respect and inclusion, it is important to recognize that the UBC Iranian community is diverse, including across ethnic and religious identity. Among those who identify as Muslim, there is a diversity of ways that individuals may choose to present and practice their Islamic faith, spirituality, or cultural identities. None of these should be implicitly conflated with support for the Iranian government’s regime, including a community member’s right and choice to wear hijab. More broadly, building one’s cultural competency and global literacy can enhance intergroup relations in the aftermath of these events. Community members are encouraged to broaden their sources of information and to take the initiative to learn about the relevant social, political, and historical contexts surrounding such global events. The UBC library is one great resource for such learning.
Arig al Shaibah, Ph.D.
Associate Vice-President, Equity & Inclusion
“I raise my voice not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ~ Malala Yousafai
“A world full of empowered women isn’t one where men are marginalized. It’s a world where everyone thrives.” ~ Purnima Mane
Resources for community members seeking support:
Students Assistance Program – a free 24/7 confidential wellness resource for crisis, grief, and trauma counselling:
A variety of health and wellbeing resources, services and programming is also available to UBC Vancouver students at students.ubc.ca/health and to UBC Okanagan students at students.ok.ubc.ca/health-wellness/.
UBC Persian Club – a non-profit student organization and social hub for UBC Iranian community and Iranian-related activities.
Faculty and Staff
Employee and Family Assistance Program – a confidential and voluntary resource providing professional and emergency counselling services and additional support via phone, video, web or mobile app.
All mental health resources, including access to UBC’s Extended Health Benefits Plan, can be found on the HR website: hr.ubc.ca/health-and-wellbeing/mental-health.
UBC Iranian Professionals Network
All community members
Healing in Colour has an extensive list of racialized counsellors