Author Archives: Rajiv Jhangiani

Rajiv is KPU’s Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning. He oversees the strategy and operations of the Teaching & Learning Commons, Open Education, and Continuing & Professional Studies departments, in addition to responsibility for the institutional strategies for Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition, Academic Integrity, and Micro-credentials. An advocate for equitable access to education, ethical educational technologies, and student-centered pedagogies, Rajiv first began working at KPU in 2007 as a Psychology Instructor. He is a ukulelist, a tennis player, and a retired professional dancer. You can find him online at and @thatpsychprof

Shifting from Equity-Seeking to Equity-Deserving

Shifting from Equity-Seeking to Equity-Deserving 

By Teresa Smith

Pause for a moment and consider the power of words.

Research participants view a surgical procedure more favourably when it is described as having a “70% success rate” rather than a “30% failure rate”[i].

If you ask a witness how fast two cars were going when they “smashed” rather than “contacted” each other, they will report a much higher speed.[ii]

The words we choose shape the way we think, and the way we think shapes the way we behave.[iii] If we want to be an anti-racist, we need to recognize that our words shape the world we live in. 

Anti-racism work is based on the fundamental belief that all humans deserve equitable treatment. That no matter who you are, you have a right to be treated fairly, without bias. And yet, when we talk about Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, why do we refer to them as “equity-seeking” rather than “equity-deserving”? 

Think about it. To seek something is to ask for something from someone else. And if equity is a right, which it is, no one should be put into the position of having to ask for it. The act of asking for something puts the asker in a vulnerable position. The asker assumes all the risk: the risk of appearing needy and the risk of having to give control over to someone else. And what of the person or group being asked? The “askee” becomes the one with all the power – the power to give, the power to deny, and the power to look the other way.

That is why I support the challenge of Professor Wisdom Tettey, Vice President and Principal of University of Toronto Scarborough. In his 2019 installation address, he calls on us all to change our words and to start thinking of relating to, and referring to, marginalized people(s) as “equity-deserving” rather than “equity-seeking”. 

Reflecting on language is an important aspect of anti-racist work. What words have hurt you or helped you in your life? How do the words you use create or uphold certain relationships, values, or power structures? By making a shift in your words, you can help change how people think and act towards BIPOC members of our community. Equity is something we all deserve.

Want to learn more about how to shift your language? Visit the City of Edmonton’s Inclusive Language Guide and the BCCDC COVID-19 Language Guide.  

Teresa Smith is the Senior Manager, Organizational Development and Employee Experience in KPU’s Human Resources Department. Her work involves building and supporting equitable and inclusive practices that contribute to a healthy and thriving community.




This is the first in several opinion pieces to come. We welcome your thoughts, advice, and unique insights.  

All comments will be moderated. For your comment to be approved and made public, it should respect the dignity of others and meet the standards of KPU policies and collective agreements. Personal attacks or comments which promote hatred or contempt for any social, national, or ethnic group will not be tolerated. 

KPU Partners with National Dialogue on anti-Black racism and Black Inclusion

On September 21st, KPU partnered with the University of Toronto’s National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Education and Communities, a series of national forums focused on addressing equity and inclusion in Canadian post-secondary education. The first in the series is a National Dialogue that will focus on anti-Black racism and Black inclusion in Canadian higher education, and will take place on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (ET).

Further details are available here:

KPU’s Task Force on Antiracism (TFA) to begin its work in September

On July 16, KPU President Alan Davis announced the establishment of an institution-wide task force on antiracism (TFA). President Davis noted that the recent tragic stories from the U.S. and Canada have been top of mind as a result of immense media and social media attention. He wrote: “We denounce the racism that led to these events, but we recognize that these are also the latest in a long and ongoing history of race-based violence and discrimination. The issues coalesced around systemic racism toward Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in our communities and on our campuses.”

KPU’s Vision 2023 calls for positive changes to the experiences of KPU students, employees, and friends; to cultural and social sustainability; and to increasing value-based scholarship that addresses social needs. President Davis noted that none of these goals can be successfully achieved without working against racism and, in particular, paying attention to the experiences of BIPOC members of the KPU community.

KPU has already undertaken various equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives. Currently, an EDI action plan, an Indigenization strategy, as well as a number of other projects are in progress. The President’s Diversity and Equity Committee (PDEC) and a number of other important internal and external networks have been set up to further advance KPU’s commitment to EDI. KPU is also a signatory to the Dimensions charter on EDI, and taking action on antiracism will be integral to meeting these commitments. Many at KPU are already actively engaged in advancing antiracism in the classroom, in student life, and in the community. The TFA will build on these initiatives and provide an opportunity to work on issues of racism in particular.

“Words are important, but action will set us on the path to change. This is why we have taken some time to carefully consider how best to approach this very important work at KPU, even during these extraordinary times of re-imagining our core mission during a global pandemic,” wrote Davis.

The TFA will be a catalyst for action, and will include key faculty, staff, administrators, and students, and will be led by Dr. Asma Sayed, whose teaching and scholarship includes many aspects of antiracism and intersectional social justice.

“I am glad to see KPU’s commitment to antiracism. We will hear from and consult with BIPOC at KPU and learn from their lived experiences. Over the next 18 months, the TFA will provide us with opportunities to self reflect, to recognize our biases, and to move forward toward making concrete long-term changes through education, collaborative thinking, and policy changes,” said Sayed.

Over the next 18 months, the TFA will work towards creating institutional supports and opportunities for teaching, research, and scholarship on racial equity, systemic oppression, and intersectional social justice. It will also create a space for the KPU community to share their experiences, knowledge, research, creativity, and teaching resources relating to confronting racism.

The TFA steering committee will begin its work in September, with the initial goals of setting the terms of reference, long-term objectives, and planning various educational initiatives. Progress will be reported out regularly, with updates being posted to

From Thought to Action

On June 26, 2020 President Alan Davis convened a meeting of concerned faculty and administrators (including members of the President’s Diversity and Equity Committee) to discuss some initial ideas generated by the Associate Deans of the Faculty of Arts for how our university community might address the serious issue of racism. That meeting concluded with the formation of a steering committee that includes Dr. Asma Sayed (Department of English), Dr. Deepak Gupta (Associate Vice-President, Research), and Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani (Acting Vice-Provost, Teaching & Learning). This steering committee was tasked with making some recommendations and outlining next steps.

The steering committee held its first meeting on June 29 and decided to create this website to share periodic updates with the broader university community. One of the recommendations of the steering committee was the creation of a task force on antiracism.