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UBC Board of Governors chair resigns after 'deeply hurtful' social media activity opposing Black Lives Matter

Last Updated Jun 21, 2020 at 1:19 pm PDT

FILE -- The UBC sign is pictured at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on April 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

UBC says the resignation comes after 'social media interactions that appeared to support regressive voices online'

The campus group Students Against Bigotry posted a series of screenshots of Korenberg's social media activity

Korenberg has also issued a statement apologizing, and affirming his support for Black Lives Matter

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Michael Korenberg has resigned his position as chair of UBC’s Board of Governors after his social media activity suggested he supported commentators condemning Black Lives Matter protests.

Saturday’s resignation comes “after information that was publicized last week about his social media interactions that appeared to support regressive voices online and undermine legitimate protest,” according to the university.

The campus group Students Against Bigotry posted a series of screenshots of Korenberg’s social media activity earlier in the week.

One tweet Korenberg liked described those protesting racism as the “paramilitary wing” of the Democratic Party, likening them to Nazi Storm Troopers. Other interactions included liking tweets by Fox News host Tucker Carlson who has called white supremacy a “hoax,” and those by Sean Hannity, another Fox News host, who has compared Black Lives Matter activists to the Ku Klux Klan.

In a statement, Sandra Cawley, the current vice-chair of the board, says committing to anti-racism and anti-discrimination is particularly important at this moment in time.

“The Board of Governors and Mr. Korenberg would like to recognize that this has been deeply hurtful to members of our community and that UBC has zero-tolerance for racism and recognizes that real harm is created from both overt and structural racism,” reads the statement.

“We as the Board reaffirm our commitment to anti-racism and anti-discrimination, particularly at this moment where collectively we need to advance the actions of the university, to engage in learning and provide strong leadership. As Board members, we must also hold ourselves accountable.”

Korenberg has also issued a statement apologizing, and affirming his support for Black Lives Matter.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, issued a statement addressing Korenberg’s resignation.

“Our government and UBC are deeply committed to inclusion, justice and equity for all.

“The university has an inclusion action plan and has begun implementing it. I believe UBC will continue its work to provide a world-class education to all of its students in a safe and supportive community environment.”

According to UBC, the Board of Governors has “responsibility for the management, administration and control of the property, revenue, business and affairs of the University. Members of the UBC Board of Governors are volunteers and serve the University without remuneration.”

UBC anti-racism group issues statement

UBC’s Students Against Bigotry has issued a statement in response to the resignation of Korenberg.

“UBC Students Against Bigotry was formed a year-and-a-half ago in response to the alarming number of hateful and discriminatory incidents taking place on our campus. We aim to make sure UBC is no longer a safe space for far-right extremists and those who support and enable them,” it reads.

“Michael Korenberg is just the tip of a very large iceberg at UBC. He is only the most obvious example of the colonialism, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness that are rooted in the very core of this university,” it continues.
“We have lost all faith in the supposed leadership of this university to take meaningful action. Time and time again, they have shown themselves unwilling or unable to do so. It has become clear that it will always be up to members of our community to join together and get the job done.”