University to tackle gender-based violence, Aboriginal stereotypes

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Media Release February 20, 2014

Campus consultation and draft recommendations follow objectionable chants heard during September’s student-led FROSH events.

The University of British Columbia President’s Task Force on Gender-Based Violence and Aboriginal Stereotypes launched a university-wide consultation today with the release of 14 draft recommendations.

The Task Force was struck by Prof. Stephen Toope in November 2013 to tackle some of the attitudes and lack of understanding related to gender-based violence, as well as the trivialization of Aboriginal cultures which came to light during some of the September 2013 student-led FROSH events.

“We are at a critical juncture,” said Prof. Toope. “I believe this report will spur our community to deepen an important reflection and take another step toward authentic respect and equality.

The 12-member Task Force proposed preliminary recommendations to nurture a culture of substantive equality, grouped in four types of interventions, namely university policies, strategic initiatives, curriculum and education, and community building.

“These preliminary recommendations reflect members’ experience and expertise,” said Louise Cowin, Vice President, Students and Task Force member. “A deeper conversation across the entire UBC community is needed before we put forward a concrete action plan.”

Consultations begin immediately, online and in person, and will conclude on March 5, 2014. The Task Force’s recommendations and consultation feedback will then be submitted to Professor Toope.

“I don’t believe we can single-handedly reverse the current pop culture with its casual gender-based violence, nor can we eradicate well-rooted Aboriginal stereotypes that prevail nation-wide,” said Cowin. “But we can certainly take more intentional and bolder actions for our students, faculty and staff here at UBC.”


The UBC President’s Task Force on Gender-Based Violence and Aboriginal Stereotypes:

The 12-member Task Force was given a mandate to develop a set of actionable recommendations to combat the systemic attitudes and lack of understanding related to gender-based violence and the trivialization of Aboriginal cultures. The group met over a three-month period to review existing structures and programming at UBC, consider approaches taken by other institutions and develop recommendations for further discussion.

The Task Force membership includes faculty and staff from a number of areas including the Faculties of Arts, Education and Law, Creative and Critical Studies (UBCO), the First Nations Studies Program, the Sauder School of Business, the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, the Office of the UBC Vancouver Provost, Student Housing and the Alma Mater Society.

Consultations and follow up actions:

UBC students, faculty and staff are invited to comment on the draft recommendations made public today. Community feedback will be received until March 5, 2014, and will be presented to President Stephen Toope, together with the Task Force’s recommendations.

Summary of the draft recommendations:

The 14 recommendations are grouped under four themes listed below. (A full list of recommendations can be found in the full report.)

1 – Policy:

UBC’s values and vision for a respectful and inclusive community must be supported by a foundation of well-developed, comprehensive policies that are representative of UBC’s diverse communities. Policy development and review processes that clearly lay out UBC’s core values and set clear expectations for all members of the UBC community are central to achieving these goals.

2 – Strategic Initiatives:

UBC’s strategic approach must rest on a foundation of well-developed, comprehensive policies that set clear expectations for its community members at all levels. Plans must be developed on a central, unit, and faculty level to set out clear actions and goals that will foster a respectful and safe campus community. To enable effective unit-based planning, evaluation, and achievement, resources and support must be made available to facilitate these processes.

3 – Curriculum and Education:

Teaching and learning together are central to the UBC mission. Topics of gender/gender identity, Indigeneity, race/ethnicity and sexuality should be ingrained in the curriculum and recognized as a consistent and ongoing part of the education UBC provides both inside and outside of its campus borders.

4 – Community:

Members of the UBC community have a key role to play in living the values, expectations, and goals of the university. Community building and orientation activities must be reflective of the policies and plans that are put in place to support students, faculty, and staff in understanding the importance of these issues and how their actions, words, and work contribute to fostering a respectful and safe campus.

Related links

Full Report from the Task Force on Gender-Based Violence and Aboriginal Stereotypes:

Fall 2013 UBC measures to address campus chants, sexual violence:

Find other stories about: Campus safety, President's Task Force on Gender-Based Violence and Aboriginal Stereotypes

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