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As mentioned in earlier posts (click here), the Diversity Council at some point was intended to replace the SGA.  The smaller organizations were often getting the shaft and student concerns were often tabled or brushed aside.  But, within the DC, students and teachers were split on the topic.  A lot of people were tired of not being recognized and did not feel we could ever supplant the SGA.  They worried that no one would support us in that endeavor.  Others, myself included, felt that if we joined SGA we would never realize our potential; that we would be shackled to a meager or ineffective student government.  Worst of all, we would have to start playing by their rules.

Before we became part of SGA there was no one telling us what we could or could not do.  Yes, the school often denied us certain privileges and the administration would often hassle our supporters when they/we booked a room for an event.  But, the rooms always got booked and we held our events regardless.  We did not have to kowtow to the administration or SGA.  We did not have to report every single event we did to the Deans and SGA (which everyone has to do this now).  We could have as many faculty sponsors as we want and have whatever structure/mission we want.  Basically, we didn’t have to report to anyone or have fear of anyone looking over our shoulder.

However, when we decided to go ahead and become recognized by the SGA I made a mistake.  I did not stand my ground and form a good enough argument.  Plus, I had spoken with majority of the members of the Council and they wanted to be under SGA.  I wasn’t about to become like the SGA and find some way to brush it aside.

At the time all this was playing out we were working for recognition alongside BGLAM (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians, Allies in Medicine).  Once Dr. Testa shared with them how to become recognized, they shared it with us and we applied for recognition under SGA.  When we went before the SGA we ended up being grilled by SGA members, even our own supporters.    People were worried that we were going to supplant SGA, that we were a political organization and they questioned our legitimacy.  It was funny since we had put on some of the most successful events and were the most active organization on campus, but we were still questioned for almost a half hour.  I did most of the talking and I suppose I was able to put forward a good argument because we ended up being recognized.

Getting recognition was definitely a victory for those of us who started the DC such as chanell, sana, moonmoon, binta, joe, dave, mike and myself.  We were really excited.  Unfortunately, the good feelings didn’t last because when we tried booking a room for St. Maarten day (a national holiday for St. Maarten, day off from school), we ran into the usual problems.  We were only allowed to use a certain minute part of the courtyard.  Plus, we were denied use of a lawn in front of the school, which no one ever uses especially on holiday when no one is at school.  Fortunately, we were able to get use of the lawn last second and we held the event.  After this, I knew even then that becoming part of SGA had been a mistake because it felt like nothing changed.

Perhaps becoming part of SGA ensured that the DC would continue after I left but I admit now that the DC of today is not the DC we created.  Not by a long shot.  For the first executive board and myself, the DC was the most important organization at AUC and we put a 110% into the organization.  Having watched the two executive boards that followed, I can say that progress is being made.  I can only hope that the DC will have more than just one meeting a semester and that it will once again become the most active organization on campus.  Mostly, I hope they continue to educate and discuss with students health disparities and cultural competency.

What do you think? Do you think the Diversity Council should have joined the Student Government??  Do you think health disparities or cultural competency is a big deal???

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

So here’s the deal – I’m leaving St. Maarten and I’m giving away all the work I’ve done to anyone who wants to use it.  I’ve worked on so many proposals and petitions that I have lost count, but, the upside of this is that I have alot of research to pass around.  Most importantly, I’ve made alot of mistakes and learned (hopefully) how to water down several critical issues into one or two simple and effective changes that would make a huge impact at AUC.

I am currently planning on leaving the island Wednesday and I am available at most times except from midnight to noon because thats when I sleep (aka hibernate).  Recently I’ve been working on student rights in relation the hate crime that happened at AUC this September but other projects I’ve been working on include a push to partially lock tuition at AUC and a new course at AUC.

Feel free to email me at endlessquarry@gmail.com if you would be interested in getting what research I have and/or a actual history of the student movement here at AUC.  Also, if you have any interest in contributing to this blog feel free to send me an email too.

Best wishes to all students who will be taking their Final Exams and happy holidays to all,

MD C

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)

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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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