JONESBORO, AR – Shane Speights, D.O., dean of New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, hosted a virtual listening session for faculty, staff and students Tuesday evening to discuss racial issues and answer questions regarding diversity on the NYITCOM campus.
The event was held in response to the death of George Floyd and the events that have followed the tragedy in Minneapolis, which Speights addressed as he opened the conversation.
“The past couple of weeks have served as a heartbreaking reminder that racism and injustice remain all too prevalent in our society,” Speights said. “The unjust death of George Floyd is yet another flashpoint of pain that our country has been enduring for centuries. As health care professionals and healers of our community, we see how systemic discrimination has negatively affected the health and well-being of patients.”
Over the course of the last two weeks, Speights and NYITCOM leadership have been meeting with students to hear concerns and identify opportunities to address them. Speights emphasized to the group that since its inception, NYITCOM at A-State has had initiatives in place to help create a diverse campus where students from all backgrounds feel welcome and supported.
However, in light of recent events, NYITCOM at A-State leadership is placing an emphasis addressing diversity. Those efforts include enhancing strategic aims to have students, faculty and staff reflect the diverse community they serve; continuing to assure that its medical curriculum prepares its medical students to provide quality care for patients from all racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to improve health equity; and continuing to advance efforts to create an inclusive work and learning environment.
NYITCOM at A-State has scheduled future listening sessions similar to Tuesday’s event.
“I don’t have all the answers, but the starting point is listening, discussing, understanding and having difficult conversations,” Speights said. “There are no words that can calm the anxiety and fears that much of our communities feel during this time. However, as a college, NYITCOM is committed taking a stance and providing a clear platform from which to speak and promote transformative change through education and policy change. As an academic medical institution, we are armed with the ability to positively impact large populations in a racially and ethnically diverse region of the country.”