UBC NOW — 2017

May 19, 2017

Rediscovering our Roots: The UBC Tree-Planting Ceremony

By Mormei Zanke, Assistant Writer, Communications & Marketing

Trees on UBC Vancouver campus

It’s hard not to notice the trees.

UBC Vancouver’s campus is home to some 8,000 planted trees and more than 10,000 native trees. Whether you’ve taken shelter under one of Main Mall’s red oaks or plundered through the fallen leaves of a sugar maple — you’ve likely considered the many species that arch and stretch around us.

Maybe in passing you asked yourself where they came from, wondered about their genesis or thought about who planted them and why. The answers to these questions are not so elusive as you may think. The origins of UBC’s trees can be traced back through history.

Graduation year - 1927
Leaves
Tree trunk
Graduation year - 1919

Many of our trees represent the lasting legacies of our students. Since 1919, a graduation tree-planting ceremony has taken place to give each graduating class a chance to leave something behind and to remind and inspire current and future UBC students. Bark, phloem, crown and all; every year a hole is dug and the ceremonial roots are embraced by land.

The idea for an annual tree planting stemmed from a combination of factors — the desire to honour the first official graduating class of UBC and the apparent need to keep up with the early 20th-century trend that was commemoration. The class of 1919 took after its American neighbours (graduation-tree planting was common at American universities) and planted a basswood tree to celebrate its own graduation. For the next seven years, basswood trees were planted for each graduating class. These trees were originally placed in the botanical garden but later moved to the east side of the Geography Building. In fall, it’s common to see their heart-shaped leaves scattered on Agricultural Road.

Trees on UBC Vancouver campus

Wherever you look there are these gentle, living reminders of our heritage: in 1937, an American elm was placed south of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre; in 1956, an oak tree beside the Wesbrook building; in 1960, a dove tree; 1972, an arbutus; 1981, a Japanese cherry tree. Like pages in a long and lengthy memoir, these trees shape our university’s temporal narrative. Siberian spruce, honey locust, blue Atlas mountain cedar; these are the trees we planted, years ago, and our campus thrives on their deep roots.

This year, the class of 2017 will have a Plantanus x acerifolia or London plane dedicated beside University Boulevard. Now, almost 100 trees commemorate UBC graduates and if history is any indication, many more will follow.

As you walk the Vancouver campus, be sure to look up now and then — our living memories are growing all around us.


April 13, 2017

New sexual assault policy introduced after extensive consultation

After invaluable feedback from the university community during a two-phased, five-month consultation period, investigations into sexual assault and other sexual misconduct at UBC will be guided by a new policy approved by UBC’s Board of Governors today.

“Sexual assault survivors and other members of the campus community have told us that past policies used to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct weren’t working,” said Louise Cowin, VP, Students and chair of the steering committee on sexual assault. “We hope the new policy will make it easier for people who have experienced sexual violence to come forward, get the support they need, and build confidence and trust in the investigation process.”

Taking effect next month, Policy #131 — Sexual Assault and other Sexual Misconduct (PDF) includes a new process to respond to and investigate allegations of sexual misconduct; reporting options and supports for UBC community members affected by sexual misconduct; and education initiatives for the UBC community on the prevention of sexual misconduct.

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We hope the new policy will make it easier for people who have experienced sexual violence to come forward, get the support they need, and build confidence and trust in the investigation process.

“The new policy is what it is because of the extensive and smart consultation feedback the UBC community gave the committees responsible for this document,” said Margot Young, professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law and a member of the steering committee on sexual assault. “It was clear that we needed a streamlined disclosure and reporting procedure and the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Offices — one at each of UBC’s campuses — are important features of the new policy and responsive to the concerns of the UBC community about the existing practice.”

Previously, complaints of sexual misconduct at UBC were guided by a number of different university procedures, including the non-academic student misconduct process and the harassment and discrimination policy (Policy #3).

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The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Offices — one at each of UBC’s campuses — are important features of the new policy and responsive to the concerns of the UBC community about the existing practice.

Work on a standalone policy began in January 2016 under the direction of former president Martha Piper. A first draft of the policy was presented to the Board of Governors in June 2016, and a second, substantially revised draft in February 2017.

UBC students, faculty and staff, as well as other community stakeholders had the opportunity to provide feedback on the policy during five and a half months of consultation — the first between June and October 2016 on the first draft of the policy. A second draft of the policy incorporated input from the consultation period, the UBC Sexual Assault Panel report (PDF), the steering committee on sexual assault, and changes to abide by provincial legislation introduced in April 2016. Another round of consultation on the second, substantially revised draft of the policy occurred in February and March of this year, resulting in a refined, third draft of the policy.

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There were those who came out and told their stories, who bravely shared their experiences with the committees and committee members so that no one else would have to experience the same trauma. Their stories are the backbone of this policy.

“There were those who came out and told their stories, who bravely shared their experiences with the committees and committee members so that no one else would have to experience the same trauma. Their stories are the backbone of this policy,” said Gen Cruz, president of the UBC Graduate Student Society and a member of the steering committee on sexual assault.

“I want to thank the members of the sexual assault policy committee — led by co-chairs Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president of Equity & Inclusion, and Kimberley Beck, Legal Counsel from the Office of the University Counsel — and the steering committee on sexual assault for their thoughtful and steadfast work to develop the new policy, taking into account leading academic research in this area and, most importantly, feedback from survivors, the campus community and other stakeholders,” added Cowin.

Work continues on an action plan — informed by the UBC Sexual Assault Panel and led by the steering committee on sexual assault — to create a more respectful and inclusive university environment and improve procedures to address sexual assault and sexual harassment.

View a timeline of the sexual misconduct policy development process:

Sexual Assault Policy Consultation Inforgraphic

Click to see the full timeline

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