Being an Ally | A Message from the Dean

An attribute of a healthy environment, whether personal or professional, is that people feel safe and supported. Creating these environments is the responsibility of every community member. Sometimes members of a community have to help each other in moments that surprise, stun or offend the community’s desired norms. It can come in the form of an inappropriate joke or comment, even if unintended.

I am sure that some, like myself, have encountered a bully at some point and time. As a high school freshman, I recall being grabbed by three guys who asked me for money. I was outnumbered, and I am not exactly sure what I was thinking, but my response was “no.” Before a “second request” could be made, a hand reached through the perimeter created by the guys, pulled me out and said something to the effect of “he’s cool,” while guiding me to move on. Rod was a part of the community and was in the position to support and advocate for me. 

In an organization like ours, there will be moments when you may be called to support someone else, like my friend Rod did for me. In every situation, it calls for us to be graceful, tactful, respectful and professional. Sometimes it may call for an immediate reaction, or it may require pulling someone aside, and other times it may call for us to inform someone in a position of authority to help. In no way should we remain silent and allow someone in our community to be harmed by another’s words or actions. 

As faculty and staff, we must ensure that our students' encounters with patients are always respectful and appropriate. 99.9% of these encounters are exactly that but, on the rare occasion, we must ensure that our students are supported and that someone will reach a hand in like Rod. It is also important that our community feels supported and that microaggressions and bullying are not a part of our work environment. I am thankful to Joel Mixon, associate director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the training he provides to help improve our interactions. Our goal each day is to create an environment in our school that is positive, supportive, and inviting to all who enter our doors. 

Thank you for every small gesture and action you make that improves our school environment.