Pharmacology Diversity Committee

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

As many of you know, during these difficult times the Department of Pharmacological Sciences developed a Diversity Committee to enhance engagement with faculty, staff and students and to create an inclusive and healthier work environment.  Workplace diversity and inclusion can be a delicate subject to address.  However, taking the time to thoroughly assess how medicine and laboratories are doing and identifying areas of improvement is not just ethically sound but is important for success of the workplace. 

Although we are more than halfway through 2020, this year has proven to be an especially challenging time for all of us.  As such, it has led to incidents in which members of our community have expressed views and thoughts that unintentionally are hurtful to others.  Such events are fundamentally counter to our deep desire to run the Department as a family and a safe place with maintenance of a culture of respect for everyone.  To implement change in the scientific workplace, participation is needed on both the individual and departmental level.  

Chairman's statement in response:

Adding my two cents, xenophobia among societies is as ancient as the Greek word coined to define it, and one of our many challenges in this international, collaborative career path is to strive to rise above it and recognize the shared goal that we all have to advance knowledge and the health of our fellow human beings.

As a thought experiment, I would ask everyone who is not an international trainee to imagine being as far away from the US as you can, in a country with few Americans, where you encounter few people who look like you in the course of the day, where you speak the language only imperfectly, and amidst a people who firmly hold the conviction of their own exceptionalism. Reactions might include a deep reluctance to respond to negative comments made about Americans and exhaustion from the effort required to absorb and not defend against statements you felt unfair to a background that while not perfect, is nonetheless yours and one that you are intrinsically proud of.

I would like everyone to reflect on this and recognize the bravery of our trainees and faculty who traveled from different counties and cultures to come here, help celebrate what makes them special, and respect the pride they have for their origins. While open discussion is a hallmark of our free society, respect for all needs to be part of the social contract if our training environment is to be one that ultimately achieves its goals.