Statement from Dean Robert Helsley regarding CUS referendum


I was deeply disappointed to learn that the referendum on the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS) pledge to provide an additional $200,000 to help fund sexual assault counselling services at UBC was unsuccessful. I know that the wider community will be disappointed as well.

This pledge was made by CUS student leaders to strengthen awareness on issues related to sexual violence and the need for a safe and respectful environment for all members of the UBC community, in response to chants encouraging non-consensual sex at CUS-led Frosh events in September.

This pledge was one component of a series of measures announced on September 18 by UBC President Stephen Toope, Vice President Students Louise Cowin, and I, to create accountability for the leadership of the CUS, to begin to restore the community’s trust, and to introduce new educational activities and opportunities for dialogue to promote cultural change at the Sauder School of Business and across UBC.

I will continue to work with the CUS to ensure that their commitment to the university is honoured.

Some of the actions that the Sauder School of Business is taking to bring about culture change include:

  • Developing a new student orientation program designed and managed by the school to replace the previous CUS-led Frosh
  • Implementing changes in the curriculum to enhance themes of social justice, ethics, gender and cultural sensitivity, and their role in corporate social responsibility and the creation of a civil society
  • Initiating training with the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre for the CUS leadership, including participation in workshops with the university’s Access and Diversity office and active engagement in community service
  • Providing Sauder-hosted events and relevant cultural programming to build awareness and understanding on issues of diversity, inclusivity, respect and ethical leadership

As Dean of the Sauder School, I am personally and strongly committed to building and reinforcing a culture of respect and responsibility throughout the university, and will continue to work closely with students, UBC colleagues and the broader community toward these goals.

Robert Helsley
Dean, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia
Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy