Recent anti-Black violence in the United States and Canada, and the upsurge in anti-Asian racist acts and expression in British Columbia, have reminded all of us that while racism is most easily recognized in individual acts, those acts are supported and made possible by structures that pervade our societies and have done so for centuries. Anti-racist action must include, therefore, efforts to alter structures of oppression.
The UBC Faculty Association (UBCFA) has made efforts to reduce such structures at UBC. We have, for example, organized a conference (2017), convened by Professor Sunera Thobani and Professor Margot Young, on “Racial (In)Justice in the Canadian University.” In the most recent round of bargaining we sought to limit the use of student evaluations of teaching in part because of their bias against racialized faculty and other marginalized people. We have sought to introduce language into the Collective Agreement that adequately recognizes forms of research that do not conform to Eurocentric norms as well as service work that is disproportionately taken up by racialized and female faculty. We remain committed to these measures in our future rounds of collective bargaining.
But we have not done enough. Current events drive home the fact that more action is needed. In light of this, the UBCFA will strike an Equity Committee to look at other measures we can take to improve the work lives of racialized faculty members. We will consult widely with our membership to come up with appropriate terms of reference and activities for this committee. We will also be more diligent in training our Executive and other committee members to recognize racism in all its forms and how we are complicit, in order to effect real change and remain accountable to our members.
CAUT’s recent statement reminds us that “Anti-Black racism in the academy is evident in the under-representation of Black scholars, students and leaders in post-secondary education; in their over-representation in precarious employment; in racial profiling on campus; and in discrimination in hiring and promotion.”
In these matters, UBC is no exception, and the UBCFA must be as diligent in advocating for these issues as we are for so many others.
Bronwen Sprout, President
On behalf of the Executive Committee