A new student-run EDI magazine, RESPECT, launched at UBC Okanagan

RESPECT has been developed by students for students with support from faculty members Anita Chaudhuri and Rishma Chooniedass.  The magazine is funded through the Equity Enhancement Fund, and the magazine seeks an alternative way to publish different points of view on EDI from the UBC student community to develop a respectful and safe environment. 

We connected with Chaudhuri and Chooniedass to hear more about this project and how it supports student engagement and learning related to EDI. Stay tuned for perspectives from students involved in the project in the next edition. 

Anita Chaudhuri, Assistant Professor of Teaching (English, English and Cultural Studies) at UBCO, is a principal applicant of the project supported by Equity Enhancement Fund.  Rishma Chooniedass, Assistant Professor of Teaching  (School of Nursing) at UBCO, is a collaborator of the project supported by the Equity Enhancement Fund. 

Rishma Chooniedass

Anita Chaudhuri












What inspired or motivated you to launch this project specifically?

Teaching online over the past two years highlighted the importance of equity, the need to address diversity (of places, people, expectations, learning goals), and importance of inclusive and accessible learning opportunities. Also, we missed our social interaction, knowing students beyond a textbook. This project, therefore, emerged from the need to have more conversations with students beyond a classroom and on a topic that is impactful. Our campus has organized talks on EDI and offers courses that discuss the topic, but we did not find a space where students could reflect and share, for instance, their observations, class projects or a story, with the community. The RESPECT magazine hopes to fill that gap.  

What does equity, inclusion mean to you? Where did your interest in equity, inclusion emerge from originally/why is it important to you?

According to Chaudhuri, “EDI is about recognizing and being comfortable with difference, asking questions, and standing up for oneself and others. I work in the area of Communications and Rhetoric and I am interested in how culture plays an important role in writing composition and extends to equity-related work. Culture as a term is very difficult to pin down and varied cultural knowledge, in my experience, makes for richer conversations that lead to inclusive practices. My understanding has evolved from working with students from multiple academic disciplines and geographical locations. They have generously shared different ways of learning and socio-cultural experience.”  For Chooniedass, “EDI means that everyone is respected and treated fairly. Only when people feel psychologically safe and comfortable in their environment, they can be their authentic selves. We are continuously learning from each other. Equity means that everyone’s contributions are heard and valued.”

Why a magazine as a medium?

We used the term quasi-academic to identify the mode and medium of production. We wanted to accept multimodal submissions to showcase students’ creativity. Using this electronic platform, we hope to improve virtual communication and collaboration to build community. We also wanted to make the space inclusive, student-led, student-focused, and vibrant in its engagement with the UBC student community.  

What did you learn through the process of working on the magazine? What surprised you the most?

We are excited about publishing the inaugural Issue of RESPECT. The process of engaging with the contributors has been an important learning opportunity. We are beginning to understand the kind of support contributors may need to develop submissions and trying to facilitate the planning and submission process. We are not surprised, but impressed by the very different approaches to understanding and defining equity from UBC students. 

Students played an important role in bringing this to life. How do you see this project supporting their learning and growth?

This project is an example of “transformative learning” at UBC. Strategy 14 of UBC’s Strategic Plan proposes the development of “academic structures that foster and support opportunities for students from different perspectives and disciplines to work together on complex or emergent problems” and the magazine is an avenue to share with the community and further such interdisciplinary engagement. 

What’s coming up next, magazine wise or otherwise?

Issue 2 is coming up next. Our undergraduate coordinators will be connecting with the UBC community and student organizations to invite contributions about practicing equity. We hope to make this project sustainable and plan to hold conversations to continue funding this important platform. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to advance equity and inclusion? 

It is an important area and much work needs to be accomplished to ensure that everyone in our community feels supported. Be proactive. Don’t wait for others to tell you to do the right thing. We can all be equity leaders! 

Any reading recommendations for the summer?




RESPECT Issue 2 invites contributions on how we practice, promote and create opportunities to enhance equity.
If you are a student and would like to contribute to RESPECT magazine, check out the submission guidelines.

Submission deadline: 31 October 2022