Q&A feature: UBC Psi Chi Arguelles-So Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Award

Psi Chi is an international honour society whose purpose is to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in the scholarship of the individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology.

This year, UBC Psi Chi co-presidents, Fides Arguelles and Norika So, introduced the new Arguelles-So Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Award. Valued at $400, this award recognizes one Psi Chi undergraduate member who has displayed meaningful and explicit efforts to further equity, diversity, and inclusion in the UBC community.

At the 2022 Psi Chi Induction Ceremony on April 28, Ananya Ivaturi, a fourth-year student studying Psychology and Commerce received the EDI award for her outstanding contribution and efforts toward promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion at UBC.

In this Q&A, Fides and Norika reveal their motivation and goals in creating the EDI Award. Ananya also discusses her experiences and the importance of the award.

Could you please tell us more about the award?

Fides Arguelles, (they/them)

FIDES: We from UBC Psi Chi are extremely proud to announce our newest award, titled the Arguelles-So Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award. This award is specifically designed for candidates who have integrated their lived experiences into investing in IBPOC, LGBTQ2S+, disabled, or other historically marginalized and underserved communities in the field of psychology.

What was the motivation for you to create this award?

Norika So, (she/her)

NORIKA: Our intention of creating this award was to create a space within this community, that previously did not exist before, to recognize students who have reflected on the unique perspectives that they bring to their areas of influence and have utilized that to actively work to embrace and accept differences from underrepresented communities.

As a person of color, I am proud to have developed such an award alongside Fides and with the support of Dr. Catherine Rawn, our faculty advisor.

FIDES: The significance of creating such an award is one that is personal to me. In the process of its development, I’ve been made to reflect on how the various intersections of my identity as a queer non-binary person of color invariably affect my everyday experiences as an undergraduate student.

“ For myself and for those with historically excluded identities like mine, what underlies the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion is a posture of compassion; what it implicates is safety in an otherwise hostile environment.”
2021-2022 Co-president, UBC Psi Chi

What do you hope to achieve with this EDI award?

FIDES: I believe that when compassion is prioritized, our service and our leadership become advocacy. This is a standard and precedent that I hope such an award can contribute to establishing in our community.

NORIKA: As this award touches on an aspect of educational equality shown through equal respect and recognition, we hope to establish an environment and community that recognizes appreciates, accepts, and celebrates diversity.

“Our intention of creating this award was to recognize students who have reflected on the unique perspectives that they bring to their areas of influence and have utilized that to actively work to embrace and accept differences from underrepresented communities.”
2021-2022 Co-president, UBC Psi Chi

Ananya Ivaturi, the EDI award recipient, is graduating this May with a major in Psychology and a minor in Commerce.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your interests, research, and service experience that led you to further equity, diversity, and inclusion in the UBC Psychology community?

Ananya Ivaturi, (she/her)

I was born and raised in Bangalore, India for 18 years and now am a settler on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people.

Before I came to UBC, I knew I was always passionate about change-making and interested in working with and for people. Naturally, being a part of such a diverse community as an international student and studying real-world issues in my Psychology classes, I worked towards gaining experience in the areas of community engagement and social activism.

In my second year, I worked for the Arts Undergraduate Society on the Health and Wellness Committee to learn more about student concerns and then later moved on to becoming the Equity and Inclusion Director to streamline my EDI efforts through policy formulation and change.

Alongside, I worked as a Program Assistant at the Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE) as a WorkLearn student and spent my time implementing EDI initiatives, such as a social justice event series that focused on breaking down terms in activism and featured many scholars, students, and community leaders.

Apart from these experiences, I was also involved with Arts Peer Academic Coaching, Imagine Day Orientation and held HR positions at different clubs on campus.

Through a combination of these experiences and my education at UBC, I strived to create a community where people were heard and diversity was celebrated in the Department of Psychology and beyond.

What does this award mean to you?

This award is a big win for me professionally and personally.

Professionally, it’s given me the confidence to continue my efforts with social activism and move into a career in this space. When I first started out, I did not know what EDI meant to me and how it made me feel. I just wanted to learn and get started wherever I could. Moreover, there was no award that celebrated EDI work, so being the first recipient of this award has been so reassuring and I am so grateful for it.

Knowing that I made an impact in the Psychology and Arts community makes this a greater personal win for me too. When I first came to UBC as a 17-year-old woman of color, I struggled to fit in. I was afraid to be vulnerable – to be myself. Now, 4 years later having received this award, I think my 17-year-old self is proud for doing this not only for me but for everyone around me that shared similar feelings and struggles with belonging.

What advice would you give to students who would like to contribute to equity, diversity, and inclusion at UBC?

Listen, learn and just start. Start with what interests you, makes you curious, and means something to you. There is no perfect place to start and there is no perfect activist.

Join a club, get involved with the Arts community, connect and work with a Professor that you admire, and take classes that challenge the way you think. It’s important to be informed, and spend time learning and understanding because that helps you develop your own approach to EDI activism. Remember, it is a work in progress.

I used to think that you needed to know everything about the fight you are fighting. But it’s really about listening, learning from, and with each other. As long as you are open to engaging in vulnerable conversations with peers and mentors, set the right intention, and make the effort to learn with compassion, you are already contributing to equity, diversity, and inclusion at UBC.

“Just believe in yourself, find something that starts a fire in your belly and go after it.”
2022 Arguelles-So EDI Award Winner

By Viktoriia Tian