Students sitting in the grass
September 7, 2021
4 mins read

Express yourself & support others in a diverse community

Diversity flourishes at UBC: students from more than 160 countries make up our unique community!  

UBC strives to be a welcoming, caring, and inclusive space for everyone—and that includes you! During your time as a UBC undergrad, you’ll have lots of ways to share your ideas and opinions (from scholarly conversations to group projects), and find resources to help you express your identity and voice your needs.

As students, we’re part of a UBC Vancouver community with close to 56,000 learners just like ourselves, so we all share the responsibility of respecting the identities, opinions, and needs of others, which may differ from our own. 

UBC’s Respectful Environment policy reminds us of how important it is to help others feel that their opinions and ways of self-expression matter—and this importance remains true in online learning as well, whether that’s communicating with your classmates via the Collaborate Ultra chatbox or attending virtual UBC events!

UBC has many resources that can support you in expressing who you are—and help you support others so they feel included, too.

Student walking on campus

First, you can go by the name you want

Names can be deeply connected—if not paramount—to our identity. At UBC, staff and faculty (e.g. your profs, TAs, ES Advisors) call you by your preferred/chosen name (different from your legal name). This means that you can choose the name you want to be known by.

You can update your preferred name via the Student Service Centre (SSC). Head to Personal Info > Contact Summary > Name. The earlier the update, the faster the records (e.g. class lists and Canvas) get updated. (The changes take 48 hours to show up on these systems.)

For more info on preferred names—and their importance—visit the website of UBC’s Equity & Inclusion Office (EIO).

Expressing yourself & supporting others: Tips and resources  

Here are just some examples of ways you can find support in expressing your identity and needs, and helping those around you to do the same.

Accessibility needs 

Ways to get support

If you’re a student with a disability or an ongoing medical condition, you can:

Ways to give support
  • Apply to be a paid student assistant (e.g. peer tutor, mobility assistant, and notetaker) for clients with accessibility needs. You can find current openings on CareersOnline. Notetaker positions are usually posted just before or shortly after the start of term, so check around then!

Gender and sexual diversity

Ways to get support
Ways to give support

Racial/ethnic diversity

Ways to get support
Ways to give support

Religious/spiritual diversity

Ways to get support
Ways to give support
  • Learn about religious days
  • If you’re organizing a (virtual) UBC event, ensure students of any or no faith can participate and be comfortable

More general ways to get informed and give support

  • Support others by being an active bystander
  • Get involved with the Equity & Inclusion Office
  • Join diversity-related clubs on AMS CampusBase that interest you
  • Take a course in the fields of diversity that appeal to you, e.g. Critical Studies in Sexuality (CSIS); Gender, Race, Sexuality & Social Justice (GRSJ); Religious Studies (RELG)

Lastly, 3 things to remember

  1. Every student—including you!—is important and has something to contribute to UBC, and our collective diversity is what makes UBC so unique
  2. Not all diversity is visible, so avoid assuming others’ identity or needs
  3. If you ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable, you can get help from UBC’s campus services (emailing them would be a good starting point!)

You belong here. Express your opinions, identity, and needs—and take steps to help others feel that they belong, too. As we dive into a new term, remember that we can all make our community a welcoming and caring place for everyone!

Header photo credit: Jamil Rhajiak / UBC Brand & Marketing