Research Project Spotlight: Respect Magazine

Respect Magazine team

Respect Magazine team. Front row: Élise Machado , Anita Chaudhuri. Back row: Ximena Cayo Barrantes, Nancy Jiayi Lu, Rishma Chooniedass

With the desire to enhance the equity work that is happening at UBC Okanagan, this project is aligned with the Inclusive Action Plan, and Indigenous and anti-racism initiatives. UBC Okanagan professors Anita Chaudhuri and Rishma Chooniedass are working to create an online space where students can share their experiences in the realm of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).

With support from the Equity Enhancement Fund, and with a team of undergraduate students, they have created RESPECT, an online magazine to do just that.

“Our intent with this project is to bring the student community together to connect what they are thinking about, what they are doing, and how they are involved with EDI practices and issues. We are working to create an avenue where students can publish their work dealing with these issues,” says Chaudhuri.

Dr. Chaudhuri is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the Department of English and Cultural Studies teaching courses in both English and Communications and Rhetoric. Ms. Chooniedass is an Assistant Professor of Teaching in the School of Nursing, and the advisor to the Dean of FHSD on EDI. Both are advisors for the EDI project, collaborating with a group of undergraduate student project managers.

Chaudhuri says that she is interested in connecting with the students to ensure they have the opportunity to share their understandings about lectures, discussions, readings, work in courses, and initiatives on campus related to anti-racism.

“There are many speakers coming here talking about these issues, and this is a way for students to talk about how this is listened to and acted upon. We are trying to capture some of the student actions,” she says.

Within the Faculty of Health and Social Development (FHSD), Chooniedass is a member on the EDI committee who are working to develop an EDI web site to help promote equity and social justice within the faculty with educational workshops , and develop policies with an equity and social justice lens within the faculty.

“UBC is trying to promote and advance equity, and this is a great way to have safe space for students to share their voices so they can have a sense of community,” says Chooniedass.

RESPECT is a student-led project for undergraduate and graduate students across campus. Three undergraduate students are working on the project to put together the submission guidelines, develop a blog platform, and work to establish connections with student groups, course unions, and fellow students.

Élise Machado is a student in human kinetics, who met Chooniedass on the EDI committee in the Faculty of Health and Social Development last spring, and was eager to join this committee when the opportunity arose.

“Equity issues have always had a close place in my heart,” she explains. “Working toward equity and inclusion really boils down to listening and understanding, not just hearing what people have to say. RESPECT struck a significant cord with me as I have always thought that listening and communicating is under the umbrella with respect.”

Nancy Jiayi Lu and Ximena Cayo Barrantes worked on a digital posted on academic integrity  in response to a competition organized but the Office of the Provost and Vice President Academic at UBCO last year and received second place. From that experience, they thought this project would be exciting and decided to get involved.

Jiayi Lu notes, “As an international student, I can contribute a voice from a different perspective.”

The intent of RESPECT is not to create an academic journal, but a magazine that can be a cooperative space, connecting to what students are already doing with blogs or podcasts or activism work.

“Our hope is to use this as a tool to improve EDI practices and improve the diversity within the student body,” says Jiayi Lu. “In this space we want to see creative interpretations on perspectives on these ideas – the good or the bad. We want to hear what students have to say.”

Ximena Cayo Barrantes, is an undergraduate student in my second year of Psychology at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She is the Events Coordinator for the Psychology Course Union (PCU) and Marketing and Social Media Manager at RESPECT Magazine.

“I decided to participate in this project because as an international student and as a woman, I understand how difficult it is to feel that we belong and are appreciated in society,” says  Cayo Barrantes. “That is why I hope that through our magazine we can create a space of empathy in which students feel comfortable sharing their experiences and opinions to make a change in our community.”

The first call for submissions is around the theme addressing what equity means. Students are invited to submit their work, whether it be writing, imagery, poetry, or a musical piece that speaks about how they understand what equity is, and how have they participated in the conversation in a class, on a blog, or even on social media.

Fine out more about the project and submissions on the RESPECT Magazine blog.

Keep up to date with new and events about this project by following @ubc_respect_magazine.