UBC education prof files complaint of racial discrimination

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      An associate professor of education at UBC believes that the university discriminated against her because of her race.

      Jennifer Chan, a Canadian of Chinese descent, claims that the denial of her application for the prestigious David Lam Chair in Multicultural Education in the faculty of education forms part of a pattern of discrimination against her.

      “There was systemic racism all throughout my career,” Chan told the Straight in a phone interview today (April 19).

      Her allegation has not been proven in court or at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

      Chan, who has been with UBC since 2001, first as a postdoctoral fellow in the political science department, will get the opportunity to prove her allegations when the tribunal finally starts a hearing on the complaint she filed against UBC and four members of its faculty and staff on May 10, 2010.

      In December last year, the tribunal granted an application by the university to defer a hearing on the complaint until UBC’s Equity Office completed proceedings on an internal complaint filed by Chan on December 15, 2009.

      Last month, according to Chan, the university dismissed her internal complaint.

      The case is an offshoot of the associate professor’s application for a three-year appointment to the David Lam Chair in Multicultural Education. She was the only minority candidate. A Caucasian candidate was eventually chosen for the post.

      According to Chan, who joined the faculty of education in 2003, this wasn’t the first time that she was the subject of discrimination.

      In a media release, she noted that she had been turned down twice for the Killam Teaching Award in 2008 and 2009 “without explanation despite clearly meeting merit requirements”.

      “All 40 winners of the Killam Teaching Award in the UBC Faculty of Education in the past 20 years have been Caucasian,” she stated in the release.

      Chan also said in the release that she was overlooked in her tenure and promotion schedule. She added that “tenure was put in jeopardy by an accusation that was later proved unfounded”.

      Speaking by phone, Chan made an allegation that it is ironic that UBC’s declared commitment to multiculturalism isn’t fully reflected in its hiring policies.

      “In fact, the UBC president has a strategic plan on diversity and equity,” Chan said. “On the ground we still know that visible minority faculty are under-represented, heavily so.”

      Scott Macrae, spokesperson for UBC, issued the following statement today:

      In response to a press release issued by Dr. Jennifer Chan dated April 19, 2011, the University confirms that it is committed to providing fairness and equity in its workplaces. UBC takes complaints of discrimination extremely seriously and has processes, including a Discrimination and Harassment Policy (http://www.universitycounsel.ubc.ca/files/2010/09/policy3.pdf), to address such complaints.

      In regards to this particular complaint, the University has thoroughly and exhaustively investigated the allegations (including both an investigation and a review conducted by human rights experts external to the University). Both processes found no discrimination and the University has accepted those conclusions.

      The University’s internal processes have been completed. The matter is now before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The University is participating fully in that process as it moves forward. As this is an employee matter and the subject of litigation, the University is not at liberty to comment further.

      Comments

      21 Comments

      Taxpayers R Us

      Apr 19, 2011 at 4:51pm

      Great. Another BS case tugging at our public funds.

      This screams of "if I don't get my way I'll sue."

      It's funny though, the complaint is in regards to an appointment to the David LAM chair. Google the name lol

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      hear the woman out

      Apr 20, 2011 at 3:30am

      I would not place much faith in any internal decision arrived at by the UBC Equity Office, which much like the Human Rights Office at SFU is little more than an arm of Human Resources and in place strictly to manage any potentially negative press by interpreting the law in the most arbitrary and conservative manner.

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      virgil hammer

      Apr 20, 2011 at 7:36am

      what a piece of work, when your not picked for the job it has to be because of racism, not that there may be a better candidate. Where is the asian tiger mom now!

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      Second Nation

      Apr 20, 2011 at 10:47am

      While the 1997 SFU debacle (witch hunt) is interesting and a shameful piece of the university's past, I don't see a strong relevance here.

      Is the link that someone complained and achieved satisfaction before being found to be the guilty party?

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      Edmond

      Apr 20, 2011 at 11:37am

      Racial discrimination is rampant in the Canadian workplace. For instance, in HSBC, nearly 100% of the low salaried front-end tellers are Chinese-Canadian (to communicate with Chinese-speaking clients in order to get their $$$), but as you move up the ladder to management, this turns to 50%, and when you get up to the executive levels, it is all white, i.e., there is 0% representation! Whether Ms. Chan has a good case or not individually, I applaud her for her courage as an ethnic minority and as a woman for speaking out on this issue, and I applaud the reporter for bringing out an issue that has been in the closet for far too long. As Canadians we love to paint a rosy picture of how tolerant our society is, but the reality is that only addressing these issues face on will we actually be able to live up that vision.

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      A.

      Apr 20, 2011 at 12:44pm

      The manager at my workplace is not white. Flaunt all the made-up numbers you want Edmond.
      Hiring Chinese-Canadians to speak with Chinese-speaking clients makes sense. To all parties involved. Unless you want to force immigrants to assimilate into our culture, which I'm sure there would be a huge backlash over.

      As for Ms. Chan's case. Would you rather be hired because you are the best qualified or because you fit a company's ethnic quota? Losing out to a white person isn't discrimination. "Multicultural education" or not. There's probably much more to this than this article states, but still.
      So many corporations are touting their diversity campaigns these days. And while I love equal opportunity workplaces, I have felt that some places are just hiring for an image.

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      Ken Lawson

      Apr 20, 2011 at 12:56pm

      What nonsense have you considered the fact that she is not qualified in the first place and does not have the credentials, if you know her tell her to go take the proper course and make sure she has no alliance with the Communist Regime in China, that must a disqualfying factor.

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      UBC grad

      Apr 20, 2011 at 2:02pm

      Does anyone here know the number of Asian professors of all types at UBC? My estimate would put it easily at over 60%. Pretty hard to claim racism with this kind of compelling evidence to the contrary.

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      H.S. Sangha

      Apr 20, 2011 at 3:05pm

      Whatever the merits of her complaint, I always am fascinated by the number of people who write into comment pages like this sounding so indignant that any of 'them colored folks' would dare suggest there's any racism in this country. How dare they! Doesn't it make more sense for an outside body to investigate and rule on her complaint before making your pronouncements? Or do you not want someone 'to confuse you with the facts'?

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