A new university-wide task force, comprised of faculty, staff and student members from both campuses, will work to bring a lens of gender diversity to UBC’s systems, policies and practices, and address human rights concerns related to gender identity and gender expression.
Following a university-wide call for applications, the newly formed Trans, Two-Spirit, and Gender Diversity Task Force commenced efforts to provide strategic direction in the area of gender diversity and enhance the experiences of trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary faculty, staff, and students across UBC Vancouver (UBCV) and UBC Okanagan (UBCO) campuses.
The new task force was formed as part of the response to better understand and address concerns that have been raised for many years by faculty, staff, and students related to UBC’s commitment to gender diversity, highlighting the pressing need for action in the area of gender identity, gender expression, and human rights. The work of the task force aligns with the commitment to inclusion expressed in UBC’s strategic plan, entitled Building Inclusive UBC: An Inclusion Action Plan and the university’s Indigenous Strategic Plan. Its activities also coincide with the addition of gender identity and gender expression to the BC Human Rights Code. The task force expands the scope of the Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity Working Group of the Vice Presidential Strategic Implementation Committee for Equity and Diversity (VPSICED).
The task force includes five faculty members, three graduate, and seven undergraduate student members, and four staff members from the UBCV and UBCO campuses. It is co-chaired by Janice Stewart, Senior Instructor, Social Justice Institute; and Sara-Jane Finlay, Associate Vice-President, Equity & Inclusion; and supported by associate chairs Hannah Kia, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work; Jesse Grimaldi, Manager, BCom Careers, UBC Sauder Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre; and Ruthann Lee, Associate Professor, Cultural Studies and English.
“We see the task force as an essential voice to offer strategic direction to UBC’s senior leadership and identify primary areas for attention and improvement to support gender diversity and create a more inclusive campus for members of trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary communities,” said task force co-chairs Janice Stewart and Sara-Jane Finlay.
One of the task force’s key priorities includes the development of recommendations to address gaps in systems, policies, procedures, and practices related to gender diversity, including ones that would address the human rights concerns of trans, Two-Spirit and non-binary members of the UBC community.
As part of those efforts, its first initiatives are to engage with Indigenous and Two-Spirit communities on both campuses and to conduct a university-wide audit to gather comprehensive information on gender diversity at UBC, particularly in the areas of campus climate, institutional data and records, student services and programs, athletics and recreation, and community engagement. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, these initial steps have been delayed until the task force is able to assess how best to proceed.
An open call for applications was launched in January 2020. Task force members were selected based on the expertise and experiences that they would bring to the group, with the goal of bringing together a diverse, intersectional group that could provide insights into multiple aspects of the UBC community across UBCV and UBCO.