RVU Celebrates Black History Month With DEI Events

Written by Jaysen Hatch, OMS I

RVU has placed an enormous emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. Our drive to recognize, appreciate, honor and understand the tapestry of humanity and how we can best respond and engage is a critical reflection of RVU’s foundational values. We have been hosting more events to help faculty, staff and students alike encounter better experiences when it comes to diversity. Although the pandemic has prevented in-person interactions, we have nonetheless been busy hosting several virtual events over the past few months.

Summit for Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity

Following a long and relaxing winter break, the RVU Colorado Diversity and Inclusivity Student Taskforce helped to ring in the New Year by hosting an Inaugural Summit for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. The summit occurred throughout January and February and consisted of a series of four 2-hour workshops, which were streamed over Zoom for both Colorado and Utah Campuses to attend. Attendance at the first workshop was much higher than expected, with Zoom maxing out with 300 participants, therefore requiring an increased capacity for the remaining workshops to allow the 400+ COM, PA, MSBS students, staff and faculty to attend. Topics of discussion included:

1. Understanding Implicit Biases with Dr. Leslie Zorwick, a Professor of Psychology at Hendrix College. Dr. Zorwick discussed implicit bias and how every person is biased to some degree. As these biases are commonly unconscious, recognition and awareness can be a first step in combating them.

2. What is Health Equity? with Dr. Durryle Brooks, a champion for health equity and CEO of Love and Justice Consulting, LLC. Dr. Brooks discussed the difference between equity and equality and the need and importance of having both.

3. Hands on Bias with Dr. Nicole Cabrera Salazar, founder of Movement Consulting, a STEM Equity Advocacy consulting service for scientists in the workplace. This workshop consisted of many personal reflections and self-evaluations of where we are at with our own biases and how we can change these in our workspaces.

4. From Here Forward with Dr. Manuel Del Real, the Executive Director of HIS initiatives and Inclusion at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The focus of this workshop was to discuss the topics of implicit bias, equity, and health disparities within the context of higher education and provide both administration and students with actionable steps to move forward with DEI initiatives.

Kahoot Black History Learning Quiz

For Black History Month, we were able to incorporate learning about Black history into a fun lunch time learning activity with Kahoot, a game-based learning platform. Daneka Souberbielle composed several quiz questions that enriched everyone’s knowledge about Black history.

A screenshot taken during the virtual Black Men in White Coats events.

Black Men in White Coats

In recognition and celebration of Black History Month, the RVU-SU Diversity and Inclusivity Committee along with the RVU SNMA Chapter hosted a screening of the affecting documentary Black Men in White Coats. The screening was followed by a dynamic discussion facilitated by guest speakers, Dr. Dennis Spencer and Dr. William McDade. Dr. Spencer serves as an attending physician in the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Boston Children’s Hospital and Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. McDade is the Deputy Provost for Research and Minority Issues for the University of Chicago and Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care. A screening link was provided to participants to enable viewing of the documentary from February 14 – 17.

On the evening of February 17, an audience of over 130 attendees composed of students, faculty, and staff from both campuses joined Drs. Spencer and McDade and our Provost, Dr. Forstein and Deans, Drs. Ferrill and Park, to discuss the film and the issues raised. Topics included the systemic barriers preventing Black males in particular from becoming physicians, the responsibility of medical schools to actively recruit more applicants from underrepresented groups by shifting entrance requirements, expanding mentorship programs and opportunities, greater acceptance of students through pipeline programs, and the effect of increasing diverse representation in admission committees.

One of the most impactful and inspiring parts about these events was the chance to learn and hear from the amazing staff and students who attend RVU, as they shared their insight, experiences, and thoughts on many of the topics discussed. Recognizing the wealth of diversity and experience in our own ranks, these events were influential in educating and helping each participant understand their own biases and what we can contribute to make our communities and RVU more diverse and inclusive.

As we strive to uphold our core value of Diversity as well as ensure equity and inclusion at RVU, we hope that the community will continue to attend and support our efforts. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions regarding Diversity and Inclusivity please contact the Chair of the RVU-SU Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, Dr. Jacqueline Powell at jpowell@rvu.edu.

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