Listening and learning

By Sarah Dench, AVP, Academic and Student Affairs

Over the past few days I have been reflecting on events we are seeing in the United States. We’ve spent so much of our time in the past few months talking about physical illness due to COVID. But racism and violence are also illnesses. They infect and take lives.

I watch the news and feel grateful I live in Canada, as imperfect as it may be, but I know we aren’t immune. We have our own history of racism to acknowledge and account for, and the current reality of racism to address. We can’t turn away from that, and to stay silent is to be complicit. 

Those of us in higher education might be inclined to assume we are somehow beyond racism and violence. But we are part of the world around us, and to be actively anti-racist – speaking and educating to oppose racism and systems of oppression – is our responsibility.  All of us must think about how we take action, personally and as organizations. 

I was torn about sharing these thoughts. As a white person in a position of privilege, I do not want to be drawing focus or speaking about experiences that aren’t mine to claim. I want to be an ally, but that’s also not my label to apply.

However, leadership matters, and I can commit to use my position of privilege for a purpose, to stand with people of colour and those who fight against racism, bigotry and oppression. I can call out racism when it happens, I can support people and organizations that work against racism and support survivors of racism, and I can listen and learn. I hope we can all do that together and oppose racism as a Douglas College community. 

-Sarah Dench
Associate Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs

As an institution, Douglas College opposes all acts of racism and stands with people of colour to actively combat systemic bias in our communities. Students who experience grief, trauma or stress resulting from racism and violence are encouraged to seek support:

Personal Counselling

Get help with issues affecting your academics or personal well-being.

Student Support and Conduct

Receive help for matters of disruptive conduct and support if you are in distress. The office works collaboratively with students, faculty and campus partners to resolve issues, such as disputes and access support, in a restorative and respectful manner.

Indigenous Student Services

Get the information you need about services available for Indigenous students.


The BC government is also providing free 24/7 Mental Health support services for post-secondary students through

Speak to a counsellor by phone:

604 642 5212 direct

1 877 857 3397 toll free

1 604 642 5212 for students calling outside Canada (international calling charges may apply)

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