White Coats 4 Black Lives peacefully presents U of U School of Medicine a list of change ‘demands’

Salt Lake City Protests

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The University of Utah School of Medicine chapter of White Coats 4 Black Lives peacefully presented a list of demands to Dr. Micheal L. Good and Dr. Wayne M Samuelson. The doctors are the dean and vice dean of the school.

The demands range from limits on policing, helping to equalize the representation of doctors and medical students in our society, and asking for new bias and sensitivity training to help fight racism and racist ideas.

The group released the following message to ABC4 News via a press release:

“We as medical students, residents, and community members present the following list of demands in accordance with the mission of White Coats 4 Black Lives.”

“On June 5th, the University of Utah healthcare professionals, medical students, and others held a moment of silent reflection and commitment to “the health and safety of people of color.” To honor George Floyd, participants knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. After the demonstration, photos were released publicly with the hashtag #whitecoatsforblacklives and a “pledge to join with our students to promote anti-racism in our curriculum, healthcare system, and community” from an official account. In the statement released on June 3rd by the School of Medicine, it was declared that the institution does not tolerate racism nor violence.”

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“The sincerity of this declaration remains to be seen. We now demand corresponding action to protect Black lives and uplift Black voices in our classrooms, clinical settings, and communities; only then will this statement reflect the realities of the University of Utah School of Medicine.”

Our demands are as follows:

  1. Policing is incompatible with education; police do not ensure safety and instead compromise the security of some of our most vulnerable community members. The University of Utah School of Medicine must take the following actions in order to ensure all individuals are safe on campus:
    1. End relationships with local law enforcement, including the University of Utah Police Department. We demand that the University of Utah Department of Public Safety be a safe and accessible resource for all members of the University of Utah community.
    2. Publicly commit not to collaborate with ICE enforcement actions.
    3. Publicly and in a timely fashion release data on the race of students, residents, faculty, staff, and community members involved in interactions with campus police officers, and develop a clear action plan to address racist inequities in campus police interactions.
    4. Eliminate the budget for campus policing, and reallocate those funds to programs supporting BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) students, faculty, staff, and individuals in crisis.

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  1. Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, but only 5% of physicians. To create a representative physician workforce, medical schools would need to admit classes made up only of Black, Latinx, and Native American students for the next 10 years. Medical schools must therefore commit to admitting incoming classes in 2021 with over-representation of Black, Latinx, and Native American students (at least 26% Black, 34% Latinx, and 2% Native American), as recommended by the national organization. We also demand Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians are actively recruited, admitted, and enrolled from our city, state, and beyond. This means that the UUSOM must:
  1. Publicly release a detailed plan about how the institution will matriculate a first-year class in 2021 with overrepresenation of Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students.
    1. This plan must include financial support, particularly for out-of-state students where cost is a prohibitive factor.
  1. In order to fully support BIPOC students, faculty, and staff the UUSOM must:
    1. Issue a clear and updated policy in which students and residents subjected to racism, harassment, and other forms of mistreatment have a direct and immediate avenue to anonymously (if desired) report the incident(s); we expect that there will be no racism tolerated at the UUSOM.
    2. Publicly release data on the preclinical/clinical grades and rates of AOA election for students of different races and develop a plan to immediately address any inequities. This plan would likely include the abolition of AOA.
    3. Increase the funding dedicated specifically to supporting BIPOC students by at least 50 percent, including mentorship, scholarships, and dedicated support staff.
      1. A commitment must be made in this plan to hire support staff, administrators, and faculty who are BIPOC.
      2. A safe and autonomous environment should be created for BIPOC educators.
    4. As part of a broader project of reckoning with medicine’s troubling history of racism, the UUSOM must undertake research into the ideologies and activities of individuals featured on campus, and remove the names and images of those found to have supported eugenics or other white supremacist causes. This research must extend not only to historical figures, but also to contemporary donors who have engaged in practices such as weapons manufacturing, exploitation of low-wage workers, funding of racist political causes, and employment discrimination. 
  1. The medical education system as we know it teaches and propagates racist ideas that translate to harm of BIPOC patients and providers. The curriculum at UUSOM must equip graduates with the skills necessary to identify and address institutional racism as healthcare providers, community leaders, and advocates. Moreover, all graduates from UUSOM must have the skills to provide patient-centered care to BIPOC through a lens of cultural humility. The UUSOM must:
  1. Provide mandatory implicit bias training for all students, residents, faculty, and staff.
    1. Provide mandatory education in the foundational aspects of health equity and justice: including, but not limited to, the history of racism specifically as it pertains to medicine, the framework of intersectionality, the ideologies behind the creation and continuation of oppression as evidenced by the disparities in health outcomes of BIPOC, and theories of resistance and liberation to eliminate racism and other forms of oppression. This must be incorporated in all phases of medical education curriculum (Layers of Medicine, Basic Science, CMC, Clerkships, etc.). These elements must be a priority in all curriculum committees and specific strategies should be outlined for how students can hold instructors accountable to these standards.
    2. Provide transparency in curriculum decisions and actively recruit and hire BIPOC educators who are experienced in meeting the demands of point 4b; the UUSOM must demonstrate intentional placement of educators in learning spaces.
    3. Reinforce and evaluate specific skills that will prepare medical students to take action against systemic racism and oppression. 

ADDENDUM, 6/12/20 6:24 a.m.

Due to concerns raised by members of the University of Utah School of Medicine, we would like to include the following additions to our original list of demands. We also ask that the UUSOM:

  • In revision to point 3ci: commit to hiring 50% more BIPOC support staff, administration, and faculty by the academic year 2021-2022. 
  • Publicly acknowledge that Racism is a Public Health Crisis.

The medical students emphasized how the process was done, including how the dean of the school said they would meet in two weeks.

Tracy Smith
Tracy T. Smith is an award winning content producer/storyteller. He has a passionate interest in all things narrative and loves writing, photography, cinematography and visual storytelling.

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