We’ve rescheduled one of our sessions, “Addressing Campus Climate in Your Classroom” for November 3, 10AM-12PM, and hope this change in time will encourage more of you to register and attend this important workshop!
Recent events at UBC have highlighted for us the timeliness of this particular Classroom Climate offering and others like it in our series. A assault that occurred in one of the Totem Park residences in early October, just a few days before the workshop on campus climate was originally scheduled, remind us of the realities of violence on our campus and our responsibilities to care for each other and heal as a community. As news trickled out about the assault, the discussion around event also began to include analysis about the ways people were talking about the incident. At least once student present during the assault spoke out about problematic narratives being constructed in news and public responses, which have emphasized the assailant’s race and status as an international student (“Man who came to rescue of fellow UBC student slams racist response to UBC attack,” Vancouver Sun, Oct. 16, 2016). Conversations on social media indicate that members of the UBC community want to discuss the impacts of such violence on all of us who live, learn, and work on this campus (“Student charged with yesterday’s assault, UBC receives backlash over untimely notification of students,” The Ubyssey, Oct. 16, 2016).
How can we open up space in our classrooms for important conversations that acknowledge campus issues, while being attentive to our students and our own safety, and honouring the broader learning goals in our courses and curricula?
The assault on campus before the Thanksgiving holiday only served to highlight some of the ongoing conversations at UBC around the need to change our campus climate, institutional culture, and our critical understandings of and approaches to sexual violence that acknowledge broader contexts of intersectional violences and oppressions. Several key events relating to these topics have been happening at UBC in October:
- The university has been delivering information sessions and consulting with the campus community throughout October around its developing sexual assault policy (Policy #131). More info: Equity and Inclusion Office “UBC Sexual Assault Policy and Proces Development”
- Feedback on the draft policy is invited until October 31, 2016. Take the anonymous survey.
- Also this month, the report of an expert panel, convened by Dr. Martha Piper and consisting of five UBC faculty and a recently graduated doctoral candidate, titled “Sexual Assault at the University of British Columbia: Prevention, Response, and Accountability” was released to the public. Read the report.
- A one-day event, Decolonizing Rape Culture: Indigenous Responses to Sexual Violence, organized by the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and co-sponsored by UBC Departments of History, and Political Science, Faculty Association Status of Women Committee, the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, and TRU School of Social Work and Human Service, brought together about a hundred participants throughout the day to collaboratively examine on-campus sexual violence in relation to broader issues of colonialism, dispossession, resistance, and resurgence.
One of the goals we set for ourselves as a team this year was to examine the interrelationships between classroom and campus climate. The framework for classroom climate that we work from as the starting point for many of the conversations we have around place, inclusion, diversity, Indigenous engagement, and learning, locates the classroom within layers of institutional, social, historical, and political context. The classroom is neither a neutral nor an isolated space; the dynamic layers surrounding the classroom, including campus climate, affect how our learning takes place. When we speak about campus climate, we are talking about the things that happen on our campus and how we’re affected by them, the culture of our university, how we relate to each other as members of a community, our governance, our values, how the university articulates and acts upon its academic and social mission. But campus climate is also affected by the broader worlds surrounding us, the place of the university within those worlds, the lands we occupy, and the local and world events that have an effect on us as people who participate in our worlds that include but also exceed the spaces of the university.
Indigenous Initiatives recently released a video, produced in collaboration with CTLT’s Marketing and Communications team, on Campus Climate and Sexual Violence at UBC. Featuring interviews with UBC faculty who will be leading Classroom Climate sessions exploring topics of campus climate in teaching and learning, the video begins to unpack some of these issues and ask questions about how they can be addressed within our classrooms. We hope this video and the upcoming workshops we have scheduled will offer some ideas for how to begin this discussion between colleagues, faculty, staff, and students everywhere at the university.