UBC Equity and Inclusion to hire new director of conflict management

The UBC Equity and Inclusion Office is hiring a “director of conflict management” to develop alternative and informal means of resolving conflict on campus. The ideal candidate will have an understanding of models of conflict management, experience in resolving conflicts in a variety of settings as well as justice institute training.

The director of conflict management position is part of a larger initiative currently being undertaken by the Equity and Inclusion Office as a step towards some concerns outlined in the Implementing Inclusion Report in 2013. That report highlighted the need for “informal conflict resolution that emphasizes interests” for all students, faculty and staff.

“It was always intended that there would be a much more strategic position in relation to conflict management,” said Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice president of Equity and Inclusion.

“The successful incumbent will still do one-to-one mediation work because that is part of [the job]. [The director of conflict management] will also be responsible for building a strategy that gives the community in general more skills for managing conflict, for building up resiliency and for really putting in place the respect for environment that we want to see at UBC.”

Finlay further stated that conflict resolution across campus cannot be handled solely by one individual, and that there is a process underway to hire a “human rights advisor” who will be reporting to the director.

According to Finlay, the current director of conflict management has been catering to concerns regarding discrimination on campus, but not been able to dedicate time to developing the kinds of strategy for conflict management that need to be implemented at UBC.

“There will be a human rights advisor … who will deal with the harassment and discrimination cases in relation to the protected grounds under the BC Human Rights Code. Then there will be … the director of conflict management, who will offer a more strategic approach to conflict management,” said Finlay.

Linda McKnight, the director of human resources, continues to assert that the division of labor into the human rights advisor and director of conflict management is aimed at encouraging more informal ways of resolving conflicts.

“What we've heard over the years is [that] staff, faculty and students are intimidated if they think that by going to an office, they're going to have some big formal investigation. We want them to think that if you have a conflict, you can call an office and identify what that conflict is, and talk about ways in which you might handle it yourself, or we might help you handle it,” said McKnight.

The director of conflict management position has been widely advertised to a broad pool of candidates — including graduates from the Peter A. Allard School of Law and the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education.

It is expected that the position will be filled by early 2017.