Campus Life

Respect at ULethbridge program launches important initiative

An important journey is beginning for University of Lethbridge employees with the launch of the Respect at ULethbridge program.

As part of the University’s commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging, as well as an ongoing investment in the value everyone brings to campus, Respect at ULethbridge is the first foundational step in a series of many steps ULethbridge is taking to foster a better place to work, learn and come together as a campus community.

“We have heard your perspectives, and we want to respond in a meaningful way,” says Dr. Digvir Jayas, ULethbridge President & Vice-Chancellor. “We welcome everyone on this journey, one we will take together to further our learning, foster empathy and better understand each of our roles in supporting a campus community that is welcoming to all.”

People have long been considered ULethbridge’s greatest asset, and it is imperative the institution and the campus community as a whole continues to put the work in to maintain and grow that strength. The University is not immune to issues of workplace conflict and the recent Employee Diversity Census indicated that work needs to be done to ensure employees are coming to a safe and respectful environment.

“Experiences of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination have a significant negative impact on employees — in their performance and engagement with their work, as well as their physical and mental health,” says Heather Takahashi (BA ’04), Associate Vice-President, Human Resources. “The census showed us that workplace conflicts, bullying and microaggressions are an ongoing concern here at ULethbridge and we must work together to address them.”

All employees will be expected to complete a virtual course that addresses these issues and how to recognize and respond to instances of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination. With engaging and thought-provoking lessons, questions and scenarios, the course provides information on anti-racism, unconscious bias and microaggressions, and shows how to model positive change and promote physical and psychological health.

“At the University of Lethbridge, equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and belonging is a collective responsibility that we must all work towards. To do so, we must be clear on our values, and respect is a key value that allows us to work together in a good way,” says Martha Mathurin-Moe, ULethbridge’s Vice-Provost, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

“We want a campus that is representative of the communities we serve. One that is built on the values of inclusive excellence that is demonstrated in work, teaching, research, school and our interactions with each other.”

The Respect at ULethbridge program is supported by a website (employee access only) that contains resources, supports and toolkits for leaders and employees to help foster a respectful campus environment and support each other in the process of reporting experiences of harassment and discrimination. Jayas says this will be an ongoing focus for the University community and become a cornerstone upon which an enduring environment of respect will be built.

“This is just the first of many steps we here at ULethbridge plan to take on this journey to fostering a better place to work, study and thrive,” he says. “There will be future opportunities for learning, sharing experiences and perspectives, and actively engaging in the collaborative work of ensuring a respectful campus culture.”

Dr. Michelle Helstein, ULethbridge Provost and Vice-President (Academic), adds that everyone will prosper in a supportive environment.

“We are excited to be on this journey with you and are committed to lead by example in fostering a safe, inclusive and respectful campus for all.”