Resources for Respectful Debate

The University of British Columbia has responsibility for and is committed to providing its students, staff and faculty with an environment dedicated to excellence, equity and mutual respect. Personal harassment and bullying are harmful to a respectful environment and therefore have no place at UBC.

Refer to:
UBC Statement on Respectful Environment for Students, Faculty and Staff.
President’s message to the UBC Community on Respectful Debate, Jan 29, 2015
Academic Calendar (Vancouver) – Policies and Regulations – Academic Freedom

UBC Resources and Supports for Respectful Debate (pdf) or read below
Respectful Dialogue and Debate: Principles and Practices (pdf) or read below

Please note the following resources and supports available to the UBC community:

Equity and Inclusion Office

Committed to heightening campus awareness of the University’s discrimination and harassment policies, and issues related to equity and inclusion, human rights and intercultural understanding. See: Discrimination and Harassment (Policy #3). UBC faculty, staff or students who are experiencing any difficulties related to a human rights conflict at UBC can contact the Equity and Inclusion office to receive confidential advice and support.

Vice-President Students (VPS) Office

Student Development and Services and Student Housing and Hospitality Services are units within the VPS Portfolio:

  • Students should make themselves familiar with the Student Code of Conduct. All incidents of suspected non-academic student misconduct should be reported to Campus Security.
  • Students living in residence should be aware of Residence Standards; any misconduct in residence is addressed by the Residence Life Manager under supervision of the Director, Residence Life and Administration.
  • Counselling Services is available to support students in emotional distress.

Graduate Students’ Society Advocacy Office

Provides confidential assistance to any graduate student experiencing difficulties with their supervisors, advisors, faculty, program, courses, finances, or the University. Provides information about students’ rights and responsibilities and advocates on their behalf to help resolve disputes.

UBC Student Union Okanagan

The UBCSUO provides services to enhance and support student’s undergraduate experience.

UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO)
3272 University Way, Rm UNC133
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7
Phone:           250-807-8842
Fax:           250-807-8079


Office of the Ombudsperson for Students

An independent, impartial and confidential resource to assist students in addressing and resolving concerns about unfair treatment at UBC.

227B University Centre, 3272 University Way
Kelowna, BC  V1V 1V7

Human Resources

Faculty or staff with personal harassment concerns can review the information at the Bullying and Harassment Prevention at UBC website and should notify their supervisor or Administrative Head of Unit. Where the issue is not resolved or there is concern about conflict of interest, faculty and staff can contact Human Resources, or their employee association or union.

Campus Security | 250.807.8111

A 24/7 service (available day and night) which promotes and ensures a safe and secure environment for the faculty, staff, students and visitors of UBC.

RCMP and the BC Hate Crimes Team | 9-1-1

Call 9-1-1 to report a hate crime. When you are reporting an incident, state that you are reporting a Hate Crime: Report emergencies such as attacks, assaults and threats as well as non-emergency crimes such as graffiti, vandalism and hate propaganda. The operator will connect you to the appropriate detachment to handle the situation.

Respectful Dialogue and Debate: Principles and Practices

The University of British Columbia has responsibility for and is committed to providing its students, staff and faculty with an environment dedicated to excellence, equity and mutual respect. When engaging with others in dialogue or debate, consider the following basic principles and practices:

  • Listen respectfully insofar as possible.
  • Practice active listening, instead of thinking only about what you are waiting to say next.
  • Speak for yourself, and let others speak for themselves.
  • Instead of putting words in another person’s mouth, ask the other person to clarify: “What did you mean?”
  • Sometimes disagreement is based on a misunderstanding of another person’s actual point of view.
  • Practice the ability to disagree with an idea without attacking the speaker.
  • Belittling, humiliating comments are major impediments to dialogue.
  • Highly inflammatory language can cause people to stop listening.
  • Try to avoid “conformity bias” and “group-think.”
  • Play thoughtfully with metaphors; sometimes they stimulate helpful insights.
  • Analogies can be helpful; keep in mind that analogies are never perfect.
  • Oversimplifying complex issues can aggravate and deepen differences.
  • Generalizing formulations about an individual or a group of people, such as “you always…” or “all __ think that…” are probably untrue.
  • Lengthy speeches or monologues are antithetical to productive dialogue.
  • Everyone shares responsibility for a productive dialogue, even if there is a designated “facilitator.”
  • Pay attention to sharing speaking time and not repeating ideas.
  • Communication styles are not uniform; these differences might be socially conditioned, such as physical proximity, volume of speech, pauses.
  • Sharing a language does not always mean equivalent levels of fluency.
  • Words convey different meanings to different individuals, even when they share a common language. Try asking: “How are you using the word ___?”
  • Avoid cutting off dialogue prematurely, but consider taking a break to lower the temperature.
  • Because ideas from multiple perspectives and knowledge domains can deepen and broaden understanding of complex issues, seek to make connections between diverse ideas.
  • Try asking genuine questions, rather than only rhetorical questions.
  • to respond to the thread of a conversation before starting a new thread.
  • Building on ideas enables a dialogue to go deeper.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree; disagreements can lead to teachable moments.