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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

Related Articles

“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

‘It’s better to regret what you’ve done, not what you didn’t do.’ Anonymous

A few weeks ago I was told by a staff member that I was the spokesperson for vegetarians at AUC (American University of the Caribbean).  I can guarantee you that I did not arrive at this exalted position because I am well spoken.  Rather, I am the only one speaking up.

I think a large part of this stems from the fact that my colleagues and I are medical students.  Medical students across the world have a lot on their plates.   However, where do we as medical students, or in fact as human beings, draw the line?  At which point in our careers do we turn a blind eye to suffering and disparities?

At AUC we talk a big game about ‘Diversity’ and about being innovative or just as good as anyone else.  My problem, and the problem many of my colleagues share, is that AUC doesn’t walk the walk.  Everyone is so scared of losing their position or ‘not making it’ in their second chance at medical school, that conflicts and different perspectives on medicine/classes/whatever are stifled. They are swept underneath a rug.  AUC has all these reports claiming there are no hate crimes and no discrimination at AUC.  But, then there is an event like the recent hate crime incident and no one speaks out and not enough people know the victims story.  It’s the silence on the conflicts at this school which makes everything so frustrating. No one speaks up unless it involves money.  Even when it does, people still do little.

Not too long ago I was fighting against a magical new rule (aka Double standard) regarding the DC (Diversity Council, note irony) when the school forced all its students to buy from one insurance company, Nagico.   At the time I was more worried about the double standard but members of my organization had asked me to look into it so I did.  This is what I found: when the Nagico issue arose, only two second semesters choose to do anything.  No one offered to help them in their efforts when they wrote a letter to Miami or when they convinced SGA to send the letter to the Miami office.  When the ‘Miami office’, aka the greatest share holder at AUC inc., said too bad – the issue dropped.  No one did anything afterwards.    Students and families have accepted that they are being charged 3-4x more for a worse insurance policy.  It doesn’t seem to matter that the person who organized the deal has a husband previously employed by the insurance provider, Nagico (see here and here)It doesn’t matter that the SXM immigration office, AUC’s cited reason for the change, is selectively enforcing a mandatory domestic insurance rule only on AUC and not the St. Maarten University down the street (see link here, American students and international students may still waive the insurance policy like AUC students used to do).

So why again doesn’t this all matter??

If you ask about this and the other issues brought up, I guarantee you will hear a variation of the following from AUC students, “Oh, that is awful but you know how things are here” or “just forget about it and study, there’s nothing you can do anyways”.  The best response I usually hear is the more cautious, “well, we can’t just make wild allegations, we have to be sure and do this the right way – we don’t want to harm our schools reputation or possibly get kicked out.”  I have listened to these responses during my first two semesters as well as now, and back then (like now) I hoped then I wasn’t alone in my complaints.

In January of 2009 I went to all the student organizations and definitively found that I wasn’t alone.  Those that worked with me helped me create an organization to end the pervasive silence at AUC, but now I am the only person left out of those founders and the DC has changed.  With the handling of the recent hate crime incident by the administration, I am asking people to do something and stick with it. Make a petition.  Sign my proposal.  Support BGLAM by signing up or becoming active.  Write your congressman on this issue or any issue.  DO something, anything, please.  You are not powerless and it should go without saying,  “live without regrets”.

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

Related Articles

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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