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Equity and Inclusion Strategy 2022-2023

Land Acknowledgement

The University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓  speaking  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. As the student body of the Arts Undergraduate Society(AUS), we deeply value the opportunity to be able to operate on this land and would like to extend our gratitude to the traditional caretakers of the land. The AUS recognizes our limited capacity in reversing systemic prejudices that have worked against Indigenous communities, yet vow to acknowledge, honour and respect the vitality of Indigenous communities in our present and future successes and operations.


Introduction to E&I Strategy

The Equity and Inclusion (E&I) Department of the AUS puts forth this bill to ensure that the fundamental concepts of equity, diversity and inclusion(EDI) are codified and implemented within the AUS and greater Arts community. The AUS further understands the hidden prejudices in our communities that have alienated many marginalized minority groups, such as but not limited to: members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Indigenous community, asylum seekers, racialized communities, minority ethnic, religious and national groups.. The AUS body ensures that the presence of minority communities will not be a point of contentious debate, but of inclusivity and celebration. The purpose of this strategy is to give an overview of what an Equitable and Inclusive environment looks like in each department of the AUS, and how these departments will take further steps to ensure the creation of a safe environment. 

Internal Facing Recommendations

Mental Health and Wellness: Addressing mental health issues

Students should be aware of the influence of history-related traumas on one’s identity and mental well-being and respect the individual differences in response to some languages and topics due to various backgrounds in cultures, religions, sexuality, etc. Students should not speak or behave in a way that causes distress or uncomfortable feelings in others, such as engaging with harassment or discrimination. Students must hold responsibility to prevent disrespectful language and behaviours when it is safe to do so. Doing so requires students to engage with active self-discipline, respect, care, and empathy for others, and clear self-expressions to reject offensive language and behaviours.

Regarding existing mental illnesses or distress, we do not encourage self-blaming, hiding stress or pretending that mental issues do not exist. Directors should establish a culture where team members are encouraged to seek help from mental services when need to, report excessive workload or having distress from work. Besides, we encourage students to:

1. understand and appreciate that people could feel stressed from various types of experiences and never see themselves as “weak” when feeling stressed or needing help.

2. actively seek help and resources from the Student Health Center, Center of Accessibility, Student Assistance Program, etc. on time when distress affects their mental wellness and/or functioning.

3. protect others’ privacy by not sharing any personal experiences of others without their permission.

Harassment: Addressing cases of harassment

The AUS follows the understanding that harassment is the act of continued and regular unwanted actions against a victim. This may include anything from racial epithets to malicious remarks, but must become a pattern to qualify as harassment. The AUS stands against harassment in any shape or form, racialized, gender-based, sexual, or class-based harassment. The AUS is constantly attempting to hold itself accountable to our commitment to equity and inclusion practices through the Equity and Inclusion Strategy, as well as our social media practices, as well as cultivating events that are safe spaces for students, transparent reporting procedures of its progress on this action plan to the UBC communities, prompt processes, and review.

Furthermore, the AUS is dedicated to creating a community where fairness and inclusion are ingrained in all facets of academic, professional, and campus life. This is done in a manner which recognizes and works to prevent several elements and types of harassment. The AUS adheres to the current UBC Equity and Inclusion Action Plan to ensure that the AUS Community within UBC can continue to realize its full potential in maintaining equity and inclusion, not only with regards to sexual harassment but.

 Harassment of all forms (gender, race, class, religion, or sexuality) in any capacity (verbal, mental, physical, or cyber) within the AUS Code of Procedures, is not only condemned but is grounds for termination from any role. Likewise, the AUS is committed to maintaining and cultivating an environment in which students are able to safely practice learning, research and engagement, not only within their respective portfolios, but also in an intersectional and multifaceted way of gathering communal-based knowledge. Finally, as the AUS’ Equity and Inclusion Department expands its activity across campus, in order to attempt at succeeding in and promoting inclusive environments, the AUS will work to improve institutional and individual capacities. 

Addressing sexual harassment 

Sexual harassment can be understood as unwelcome sexual advances, remarks of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors, and harassment or remarks regarding a person’s gender are all examples that foster a hostile work environment. Most frequently, a person in a position of authority over the victim, such as an employer, boss, or teacher, will engage in sexual harassment. There are many different types of sexual harassment, however, there are primarily two forms of traditional sexual harassment:

Quid Pro Quo: This Latin phrase means “one thing in exchange for another.” In this instance, it alludes to the practice of linking an employee’s advantages, such as receiving a raise or avoiding termination, to their consent to unwanted sexual approaches from their employer or supervisor; this applies to any circumstance in which the harasser is in a position of power than the victim, not only those involving the workplace or the academic environment. 

Hostile Work Environment: This phrase describes circumstances in which a worker is exposed to unpleasant sexual imagery or language, as well as unwanted advances or touch. In order for a behavior to qualify as sexual harassment, it typically needs to be repeated or form a consistent pattern. Coworkers, a manager or employer, or even customers or clients might foster an unfriendly work environment. Employers are responsible for making sure that sexual harassment does not occur at their locations, and for ending any instances of sexual harassment as they become aware. 

The AUS does not condone any form of sexual misconduct or harassment. within the AUS, or within the Faculty of Arts. Sexual harassment is not only prohibited under the AUS Code of Procedures but is also a reason for immediate? termination. This is true of all types of harassment, whether it is verbal or physical, and regardless of whether it is motivated by gender, ethnicity, class, religion, or sexual orientation.  

Additionally, the AUS contends that by continuing one’s education and involvement in some self-directed learning opportunities and resources, one can gain information that is supported by research and thereby contribute to a decrease in instances of harassment. The AUS will commit to cultivating a safespace for all students in the Faculty of Arts while reducing incidence of harassment, however, it is worth additionally noting that we cannot promise this as we would have to change the broader culture in the world. However, this is a commitment that the AUS will strive to uphold within its culture from the ASC and the AUS. 

Harassment related to other forms of marginalization 

There are several other types of harassment, such as: racial harassment, religious harassment, harassment based on gender, or class-based harassment. 

The AUS uses the definition that describes racial harassment as an incident or a series of incidents intended or likely to intimidate, offend, or harm an individual or group on the basis of their ethnic origin, race, religion or nationality. 
Furthermore, a racist incident is any incident that is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person. 

For the purposes of this strategy, we may follow the definition that behaviors that may qualify as racial harassment can include: derogatory name calling, verbal threats, insults and racist jokes, display of racially offensive material, exclusion from normal workplace conversation or activities, physical acts of violence, and, encouraging others to commit any such acts.
Religious harassment (often accompanied by racial harassment) can be understood as harassment due to an individual’s traditional religious views or moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which beliefs are sincerely held with the strength of dominant religious views. However, religious harassment can also take the form of comments about an individual’s faith or lack of faith, offensive and negative remarks about what an individual believes/exercises their faith, and frequent negative comments that create a hostile or offensive work environment for any individual. 

The AUS stands against any form of racial and religious intolerance or harassment, as it violates not only the AUS Code of Procedures (with grounds for termination). Furthermore, the AUS is committed to maintaining and sustaining a safe space for members of any religion and any ethnic background. Moreover, the AUS recognizes that education and knowledge is a bridge leading towards tolerance on our campus, and within the greater Vancouver community, however that much of this education should be self-guided. Finally, the AUS contends that maintaining one’s learning and participation through some of the self-directed and learning opportunities and tools, can provide research-backed knowledge to help reduce incidents of harassment based on race and religion. 

Likewise, gender-based harassment, also referred to as sex discrimination, is based on prejudices surrounding tasks and responsibilities attached to a certain gender that someone is or identifies with. To assist in identifying gender-based harassment, however, behaviors may include inappropriate presentations of content that is offensive to a specific gender; affronting remarks or comments made against a certain gender, such as an offensive joke or narrative. This can also be portrayed by insults or acts that are disparaging to someone just because of their gender; remarks that carry on even after the target has asked them to stop or has made it clear to the alleged harasser that the remarks are offensive; and actual physical violence, as well as calling someone by an insulting nickname because of how they identify. 

External Facing Recommendations

Social AUS Affairs: Hosting AUS Events 

All AUS events should remain accessible and inclusive. Accessibility refers to both physical locations and information transmission. Events should be designed in ways that encourage all people to join by considering the possible needs of different groups. For example, events should be hosted at places where ramps and elevators are available for students with disabilities. If possible, indoor activities should provide online access for participants to join from distance (e.g., those who need to commute to arrive on campus, have a part-time job, have family-caring responsibilities, or have social phobia). Captions and/or subtitles can also help students with hearing impairments and those whose first language is not English (i.e., international students). Using texts with usual styles (e.g., Arial) can also benefit students with visual impairments. For participants who would like to interact with other participants, have busy schedules, and have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), events should also be designed with appropriate lengths and breaks to support both of their physical and mental engagement. In addition, if events are for specific groups (e.g., Asian students), information should be easily accessible or related spaces (e.g., posting on the wall of the Asian Studies Department, emailing the UBC Chinese and Indian Student’s Associations).

It is also significant that although some events are for specific groups, they should not create feelings of division between communities. In those events, for other communities to also feel psychologically connected, the beginning of events should include some brief introductions (e.g., cultures and history) to improve the understanding of participants from all backgrounds. Trigger alerts should also be provided for trauma-holding individuals.

AUS Social Media Standards: Communicating with the Arts Community

There are two goals of social communication with the AUS students.

1. Developing the Arts community’s awareness of the E&I Committee and the idea of equity and inclusion among the community.

2. Increasing Arts students’ response rates to surveys and hearing more voices.

To accomplish 1, the E&I committee implements the E&I Strategy through surveys, social media posts, and AUS events in collaboration with other portfolios and committees. To do this: 1. In surveys, we should ask questions that encourage the community to reflect if the community currently has as much equity and inclusion as they would like as well as what are possible changes to make to improve equity and inclusion. 2. In social media posts, the contents aim to increase the awareness of the history and current situations of marginalized groups and eliminate bias and discriminations towards them, including replying to and deleting disrespectful comments. 3. in events, accessibility and inclusion should be ensured (more on the events section).

To accomplish 2, the committee asks students’ ratings (e.g., Likert Scale) and opinions (e.g., open-ended questions) to both gauge current situations, especially regarding marginalized groups in the community, and allow room for feedback and suggestions. In terms of survey questions, they should be based on real concerns from the targeted groups rather than assumed concerns from biases and stereotypes. Therefore, those who develop survey questions should conduct adequate research that reflect accurate pictures of the history and cultures of targeted groups. Furthermore, the committee keeps respectful, transparent, and honest communications with the Arts community. That is, the E&I Committee should be aware of sensitive language to avoid biases towards marginalized groups and feelings of internal division among different marginalized groups. When announcing results or providing feedback on surveys that collect students’ opinions, with the protection of working ethics and privacy in mind, E&I will provide reasonable explanations and be open to receiving more feedback when students’ dominant wishes cannot be fulfilled.

Lastly, communications within the Arts community should also remain respectful (e.g., use indicated pronouns to refer to people), confidential (i.e., keep one’s identifiable information private unless their behaviors may harm themselves or others), and professional (e.g., remember one’s representation of the AUS and keep communications organized and on-topics, only use working accounts for AUS-related issues).

Standards for AUS social media accounts 

We regularly engage in dialogue with our campus-wide community as well as with our students, professors, and staff. At the AUS, we utilize social media to spread stories that highlight innovative thinking and inspire individuals to reach their full potential. Our social media posts should always promote a sense of community and shared understanding within the AUS. The AUS upholds this commitment by following a strictly-codified set of procedures which guide the manner in which we post to social media to uphold standards for our social media posts. This is upheld as many of the volunteers within the AUS have an operating knowledge of social media trends and making current yet informed posts that actively practice and uphold our equity and inclusion strategies.

Advocacy and Resources: Advocacy within the AUS 

The AUS follows the understanding that advocacy is the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing. Promoting someone’s or a group’s interests or cause is additionally understood as advocacy. Equality, social justice, social inclusion, and human rights are all promoted by advocacy. It strives to make things happen in the most direct and empowering manner imaginable. It understands that self-advocacy – wherein people, maybe with encouragement and assistance, speak up and act on their own behalf – is the ultimate objective. At the AUS, we also take into account the fact that advocacy can also be construed as any conduct that promotes, urges, justifies, defends, or begs on behalf of another person.

While our advocacy practices might be limited, there are means in which we can assist and serve our community. One of the primary means in doing so is hosting events that strive to include and cater to all members of our community, and in doing so, we strive to ensure that our events are informed and cater to our audience. Furthermore, we ensure that we provide resources in order to accommodate our students as much as our capacities allow. We strive to ensure that our resources cater to those in need of said resources. Our resources aim to accommodate those who are experiencing health complications (whether this be physical or mental), those who are experiencing economic hardship or food insecurity., those with accessibility needs, those who represent the BIPOC community. And LGBTQIA+ students.  

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