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“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss

“A life without cause is a life without effect.”

Dear Readers,

There is some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that my proposal regarding the hate crime incident (read here) was actually seen by the lawyer or someway listened to because the administrative review and grievance procedures have changed (You can read the new one here).  Only small parts of our proposal/arguments were listened to but at least the changes are one small step in the right direction.  At least I can say and know that my efforts and persistence paid off.

The bad news is that this is my last post.  If anyone still wants their story published I will off course do so and if anyone wants to take the reins, I am more than willing to hand them over.

I hope this blog has been informative and helpful.  I also hope that I will not be judged to harshly.

Please check out the ‘Last Projects’ Tab above or by clicking here.  I have also put some links to articles I have written in that tab here:

1.  How to Ensure your Student Rights in a Foreign Country

2. Partial Lock on Tuition Idea

3. Having Vegetarian Options at the Caf

Best wishes to you in the next year and may you be at peace,

MD C

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Dear Reader,

Although I am on a Study break and on vacation from writing, I want to share the highlights of whats happened so far at AUC (American University of the Caribbean).  Most importantly, I want people to know that my posts often need to be read in a certain order, which I will be putting up below.  Also, from now on at the bottom of most of my posts I will have a link to the related posts before and after it.

Hate Crime Incident

1. It’s Not Safe at AUC

2. AUC’s Response to Hate Crime and the Logical Question

3. Final Products – Check it Out

4. Big Meeting Tomorrow

5. October Secret Meeting

6. Abusing American Medical Students in the Name of Business

Lesser Known Truths @ AUC

1. Living without Fear, Regrets and Secret Insurance Deals

2. Taking Everything for Granted

Student Stories

1. A Call for Transparency

2. So you have Asthma

Don’t forget to keep me in mind this Friday when I am destroying my comprehensive exam.  Any positive thoughts or prayers would be much appreciated!

May you be at peace,

MD C.

Picture Courtesy of cartoonstock.com

Thanks to Matt George’s great idea and Joe Fakhoury’s execution of this idea, the organization I helped start called the Diversity Council was put on the map.  The idea was an event called “AUC Culture Week” which culminated in a Talent show named, “AUC’s Got Talent”.  The show was a huge success at the end of an awesome “AUC Cultural Week” where all the organizations at AUC put on a cultural event, or two, every day of the week.  I still remember one student saying, “I wish every week was Culture Week .”  I only wish that was true.

But since then a great deal has changed.  First and foremost is the relationship between the Diversity Council (DC) and the school. In 2009, on the first Cultural Week, there was no relationship.  Back then, the school would not let us book a room since we were not a ‘recognized’ organization.  Weirdly, even the ‘recognized’ student organizations had troubles booking rooms and had to reschedule a lot due to magical new rules (aka double standards).  What sticks out the most in mind was how Dr. Testa, then Dean of Student Affairs and now Dean of Basic Sciences, did not want there to be a Talent Show or at least tried his best to stop it (ironically he ended up being a surprise judge – who says you can’t eat your cake too).

So what happened was Dr. Testa told Joe with only two weeks till the event (and after a month of preparation), that the Talent Show could not happen in Lecture Hall 2 (the only place we could do it).  He said that “people” needed to study and it would be unfair to them since the show would be too loud for people in the library. Granted this lecture hall is one of the two lecture halls underneath the library, but I believe Dr. Yoshida (then Dean of Basic Sciences, head honcho) said it best, “Who study’s on Friday at 7 pm?” So fortunately, she overruled Dr. Testa that one time.  You may find it interesting though that she came to regret it later when Dr. Testa “filled her in” because she told us, or I should say me specifically, before the event, “Dr. Testa is very angry at you, you should go get his respect back.”

Besides these ‘little’ hurdles that Joe and friends had to face, Joe did an excellent job at the time coordinating with the other Student Organizations, which is sort of the point of the Diversity Council. When we created the diversity council we, students, were disappointed with the school and we wanted more; more from the school and more from ourselves.  The status quo at the time was study, study and take care of your frikin’ self (theatrical exaggeration, kind of). At most schools back in the states and, according to faculty members at AUC, other Caribbean schools as well – there is an actual extra-curricular life.  I’m told people actually work together to put on big events.  At AUC, only a few organizations like Phi Chi or AMSA used to put on big events; no one else.  I am almost absolutely sure no one used to work together.  So when the DC put on AUC Cultural Week with everyone working together, not only was it a hit, but it was a feel good moment too.  It also proved indefinitely that we wanted to learn each other’s cultures, contrary to popular faculty/student belief.

Now though, students have forgotten these three things: that the school did not want culture week/AUC’s Got Talent (or the DC, but this is another story), that almost every activity outside of class is organized by students (honestly they should be paying us), and that we, students, want to learn about other people’s cultures. In my opinion, if your field is all about people – it only makes sense that you want to actually learn what makes people act the way they do (not just what makes them tick).  All in all, the point is don’t take anything for granted; someone worked hard and fought for what you enjoy now.

What do you think?

Last Thursday, November 4th, the president of BGLAM and I held a not-so-secret meeting with the Dean of Basic Sciences at the American University of the Caribbean, Dr. Ron Testa, over the BGLAM Hate Crime Prevention Proposal (to read everything click here) in regards to this semesters hate crime.  Oddly, we were not told why Dr. Stroschein, Dean of Student Affairs, was elsewhere and we did not ask why.  Over the course of the meeting, we had Dr. Testa’s attention at first, but he  made it clear that he only wanted to only make small, one word amendments to the Administrative Review Procedures and did not care for the rest of the proposal.  He also lamented, “I know there is a underreporting of harrassment at this school and I do not know how to fix it”.

As we went through the proposal Dr. Testa did not even comment on our request for a mandatory anti-hate crime session which is recommended by the US Department of Education. He completely disregarded the first point of the proposal asking for stronger punishments involving harassment, hate crimes, violent crimes, and forcible/non-forcible sex offenses that American laws such as the Matthew Shepard Act demand.  He did however listen to our argument on anonymity/confidentiality of the accuser (currently the AUC administration must ‘promptly inform the accused’, even if the accuser asks for confidentiality – this is illegal according to FERPA). He decided he would consider this change on a case by case basis.  Furthermore, Dr. Testa also listened and seemed willing to change a rule to allow automatic administrative review when students are harassed or their well being is challenged (currently this allowance is only made when sexual harrasment occurs). Unfortunately, after this he completely disregarded all other parts of the proposal (which are dictated by the Office of Civil Rights letter on Title IX, to read click here).  When asked about the interviewing policy at AUC Dr. Testa said the school should interview students, because AUC is a Medical School.  But, then he said that AUC is a “business” and that AUC is, “not now or in the future considering changing this policy”.  He also stated that the school will continue the practice of accepting anyone with a “27 MCAT and a 3.2 GPA and good letters of recommendation”.

As we argued with him over the merits of having some form of interview, whether by phone or whatever, he told us very annoyed that, “it’s not under my control”.  After this he threw up his hands and declared that our proposition was far too “legalistic”, that his administration’s response to the hate crime would be far more effective. He told us as we were leaving that, although we would not be on island to see AUC change, the school was going to deal with this matter.

I strongly beg to differ on this point, but more importantly, what do you think?  Will holding a NON-mandatory session on hate crimes by AUC’s wellness counselor be effective?  Is assigning a task force to investigate a new course on professionalism by itself more effective then BGLAM’s recommendations?  Should more be done? Please comment below.  Anonymity is allowed :).

May you be at peace.

(courtesy of http://www.cartoonstock.com)

It has come to my attention that last month there was a meeting between the AUC  Administration (American University of the Caribbean) and officers of Student Government, the AUC Phi Chi chapter, and the Student Judiciary Committee in regards to this semester’s white coat hate crime and the complaint filed by a BGLAM (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians and Allies in Medicine) member.  Interestingly, BGLAM officers were not invited to this meeting involving one of our own members. The administration proceeded to tell these students the results of the Administrative Review and what the Administration is going to do about the hate crime: have the Wellness counselor organize a NON-mandatory anti-hate seminar and appoint a task force to investigate a pilot course on ‘professionalism’.

Why was BGLAM not invited?  Why is it that the first official contact between BGLAM and its faculty advisor Dr. Testa/the AUC administration is two months after the incident? Please also note that AUC and it’s administration have yet to reach out to BGLAM or the LGBT community at AUC regarding the hate crime incident targeting one of BGLAM’s members.

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Purpose of this Blog

This blog is an account of past and present struggles at the American University of the Caribbean Medical School (AUC). My colleagues and I endeavored to make our Caribbean Medical School more progressive and supportive of all its students. We worked against an administration and student government to end marginalization of students and fight ignorance. When all was said and done, the administration at AUC claimed that they had single handily brought more diversity to AUC. It's time to share the whole story.

This is the story of those that fought for progress, stood up to AUC's administration/SGA and, just sometimes, won.

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