Dear members of the UBC community.
The first month of the Fall term is almost over, and I am pleased to say that the return to campus has gone very smoothly. It’s great to see our campuses bustling with activity again.
Earlier this week, UBC’s Board of Governors met to consider the University’s policies regarding vaccination. The Board heard the advice of public health experts on the measures that UBC should be taking to address public health and safety for our community arising from the pandemic. They provided up-to date, detailed data-driven presentations, including information about current vaccination rates.
Informed by this and careful consideration, the Board confirmed that our current policy – which requires all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing – is the most appropriate path.
This, combined with mandatory masking in common indoor spaces, will keep our community safe, the Board believes. Of course, we will continue to keep a close eye on the impact of the pandemic and our response will be updated and modified as changing circumstances warrant.
I’m pleased to note that more than 61,000 students, faculty and staff have completed the online vaccination declaration, with 95 percent indicating that they are fully vaccinated.
Thank you for your commitment to a healthy and safe campus. Let’s keep doing what we’ve been doing so well this term – wearing masks in common indoor spaces, maintaining proper physical distancing, and staying home when sick.
In this context, our return to campus has gone well.
That said, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I, like many of you, was deeply affected by the disturbing news from the University of Western Ontario earlier this month.
Sexual violence is devastating and unjust, whether it happens at Western, at UBC, or anywhere around the globe. My heart is with survivors everywhere. It is up to all of us to work to end sexual violence.
Sexual violence rates are highest at the beginning of the academic year, but they are also too high throughout the year. It’s not the season that creates risks; it is harmful behaviours that people in our community choose to exhibit. We must be a university where those behaviours are not tolerated. We all have to do more to create safety for those who come to campus for the first time, and for all who learn, teach, and work here.
The Sexual Misconduct Policy at UBC was created through the diverse expertise in our community because all forms of sexual violence, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking, stealthing, and unsolicited sexting are unacceptable. Sexual activity requires consent. Without consent, it is sexual violence.
I’m inspired by collaboration with our Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Offices to further my own learning, and explore what prevention can look like on our campuses.
Finally, I want to say to you, if you have experienced sexual assault or other forms of sexual violence – it is NOT your fault. And we have resources to help you. The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Offices on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses are a confidential place for those who have experienced, or been impacted by, any form of sexual or gender-based violence, harassment, or harm, regardless of where or when it took place.
The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre has a similar service.
It is up to all of us to ensure that the UBC campuses are safe, equitable environments for everyone.
Finally, I would like to thank the UBC community for engaging in the recent federal election.
I am committed to working with Elections Canada to ensure the Vote on Campus program is offered in future elections.
I would like to congratulate the newly elected Members of Parliament and the incoming government, and I look forward to working with them toward an inclusive and sustainable pandemic recovery.
Thank you and best wishes.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor