Over the past few weeks, university community members have expressed views on freedom of expression and academic freedom on campus, and UBC’s commitment to supporting equity and inclusion. On June 23, a controversial event booked by an organization external to UBC took place on the Vancouver campus, which was critical of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum used in public schools.
As you may know, there were demonstrations connected to this event and many community members were personally affected, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual. I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge this and I am very mindful of the concerns and questions raised.
I want to stress that UBC is deeply committed to the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and maintaining a respectful environment, both among students, faculty and staff and in our commitment to educating future leaders.
The university truly values and celebrates our LGBT2SQIA+ community and we stand strongly behind advancing equity and inclusion. We’re committed to keeping UBC a safe and respectful community. I am deeply concerned that some members of our community are now questioning this.
I know that the June 23 event raised the question of how the university can balance the crucial principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom with our commitments to equity and inclusion. This is not an easy question, but a very important one. With this in mind, I can confirm that this issue will be on our Board of Governors’ meeting agenda. I will also consult with both the Vancouver and Okanagan Senates on this matter as we consider the impact of events such as this both on individuals and the university as a whole.
The Equity & Inclusion Office has compiled several resources to support UBC faculty, staff and students. UBC Counselling Services can provide advice and support to students, while the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a confidential and voluntary counselling support service for faculty, staff, and their family members. Full details are available at https://equity.ubc.ca/news-and-stories/resources-available-to-the-lgbtq2sia-community-at-ubc/
Thank you for your ongoing engagement.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor