Inclusive Language Campaign


The Inclusive Language Campaign is a new initiative intended to help make UBC Okanagan a more respectful place simply by encouraging students, faculty and staff to use more inclusive language and supporting them to speak out against discriminatory language. The Campaign will include inviting people to share why they already use inclusive language and to share which words they find offensive and why.

How can I get involved?
Email for more information on how you can get involved or join the conversation online with #UBCOinclusion and #changetheconversation.

Join the conversation on facebook


Sexual Assault Prevention

Sexual Assault Prevention Video from UBC Okanagan Equity Office on Vimeo.

In the third video of the Your Words Have Power series, Lea Sebastianis, a director of SARA – Sexual Assault and Rape Awareness campaign, discusses the role of our own language in setting up and reinforcing systems of oppression that may ultimately lead to sexual violence.

Mental Health

Mental Health from UBC Okanagan Equity Office on Vimeo.

This is the second video in the Your Words Have Power Series. Lyndon Duncan discusses the use of the word ‘depressed’ and the topic of trivializing mental illness.

Cultural Appropriation

Watch the first video of the Your Words have Power series on cultural appropriation from October 2015.

Interview with co-founder Lucia Woolgar.

What is the Inclusive Language Campaign?
It is a campaign that focuses on promoting inclusive language. Our focus is to empower individuals and to encourage people to think about the power of their words. To highlight that you can choose what kind of words you want to speak and convey what message you want to share with them.

Sometimes people are unaware that some words may be problematic, so we hope to bring awareness to these words. In addition to that, we know it’s difficult to approach people when they say something that may be offensive, so we hope to provide some tips and skills on how to have those difficult conversations.

Why is this important?
This is important because non-inclusive language can make you seem less accepting, less approachable, even if that’s not what you want to portray.
On a larger scale, some words that are used (such as the ‘R’ word) in a derogatory way, reproduce and reinforce negative assumptions about groups of people those words represent. Studies show (reference) that while language may seem trivial there is a great impact on how people feel, their sense of belonging and value.

UBC is a place for individuals to grow and learn, for people to feel safe and accepted, the words we all use needs to be inclusive. We have Policies to protect us from discrimination and harassment, such as Policy #3 and the Respectful Environment Statement. This campaign aims to give people practical ways to implement those ideas on a daily basis.

For example:
Instead of using gender specific terms, such as chairman or businessman, use gender-neutral terms instead (chairperson, business person). Another example is rather than using “visually impaired,” say “blind.”  Lots of other examples can be found here:

Who is the target audience?
Everyone! Students, faculty and staff all have the ability and responsibility to use inclusive language whether in the classroom or on the bus. This isn’t about being “the language police” or encouraging “political correctness” it’s about everyone making an effort to convey understanding and respect for diversity.

What are the next steps?
We are developing a guide with “10 tips for inclusive language” for student leaders and Clubs and Course Unions. Next we will be presenting our campaign to faculty and staff groups. This Spring we will also be partnering with the Really? Campaign (developed by UBC Vancouver’s Access and Diversity Office) to offer workshops about how to be an Active Bystander and how to speak out against discriminatory language and behaviour.