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UBC students call for structural change as Board of Governor's chair resigns in racist social media uproar

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 21, 2020 at 2:46 pm PDT

FILE - A man on a skateboard and a young woman pass large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on November 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A UBC student leader says recent controversy on campus is part of a systemic issue and more needs to be done.

This comes after the chair of UBC’s Board of Governors, Michael Korenberg, resigned Saturday after Students Against Bigotry called him out for liking several tweets online, including one that described those protesting racism as the “paramilitary wing” of the Democratic Party.

Korenberg has apologized and says he supports Black Lives Matter.

While Maia Wallace from the UBC Black Student Union says this is a good first step, she adds more needs to be done at UBC.

“So you recognize that a group of people have constantly been dehumanized by the system that we live in? Cool. What are you going to do about it?” she asks.

“We want foundational change. Lip service only goes a certain way and I think it comes down to integrating Black people into policies and minorities into positions of power so that we can make decisions that benefit all of us.”

Graduate Student Association’s David Ng also tells NEWS 1130 deep structural change is needed on campus.

“They’re not just one-off issues, they’re deeper systemic issues that call for wider cultural shifts on campus.”

Ng adds, Korenberg’s social media is also just part of a larger problem on campus.

“There is a lot rhetoric floating around on campus, on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, but we really hope that this translates to real action and shifts on campus so that these things don’t happen again.”

In a statement from the Students Against Bigotry group, they say there have been a number of hateful incidents at the school in the last year and half and that their work has just begun.

“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 – the University of so-called “British Columbia” – and have been since its beginning,” the statement reads.

Earlier in the month, an assistant basketball coach Vern Knopp also came under fire for liking a tweet that reads, “Black Lives Matter is a leftist LIE.”

– With files from Nikitha Martins