PNWU Statements on Racism and Social Inequality


PNWU Statements on Racism and Social Inequality

Statement from the PNWU President

Centuries of racism have fostered deep-rooted attitudes and problems in America which remain with us today. In recent weeks, our communities, our country, and the world have experienced great pain, anxiety, and fear arising from witnessing the torturous death of George Floyd, and the video of Ahmaud Arbery being hunted down and killed in cold blood.

These events make it apparent that the Watts Rebellion in 1965, and the 12th Street Riot in Detroit, in 1967, had limited effect on social justice for Black America. Those were flames of anguish and despair that were extinguished by those holding unyielding power, and which exemplified a culture of ignorance and racism. That culture resulted in the brutal beating of Rodney King at the hands of the LAPD in 1991. That culture exists today.

As a result of these past and present inhumane and racist atrocities, there have been many powerful words spoken and written including Black Lives Matter, decrying those actions, and calling for social justice and reform. We support and empathize with these words and calls for change and we also recognize that now, as never before, words are not enough.

The United States must be united, in opposing racism, inequality, and marginalization of Black lives. If our country is to truly be the land of the free, and the home of the brave, it’s going to require all Americans to be brave enough to realize that if we don’t make personal and institutional changes in law enforcement, education and health care, then we’ve lost what black, brown, and white soldiers fought and died for. All Americans must eliminate complacency and the notion that we all enjoy the same freedoms. This requires that we look inwardly to reflect upon the America that exists today, and the America that we want to create.

At PNWU, we seek to become a part of creating that new vision for our country. We condemn racism, and firmly commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion for our campus and for all the people and communities we serve. We are sending this message to you today to assure you that PNWU is committed to addressing and confronting the systemic racism, unconscious bias, and injustices lived by Blacks and by all people of color, and others who are marginalized or ostracized within our society and on our own campus. We commit to dealing with these issues in a thoughtful, inclusive, peaceful and respectful manner through the development of short-term and long-term goals.

We are writing to share the initial steps for moving ahead and making this goal a reality. Dr. Ramos-Diaz, as the Chair of the President’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has identified resources for training faculty and staff in the areas of microaggression, unconscious bias, and assessing campus climate and culture. This information was discussed with our campus community in Dr. Lawler’s Campus Conversation on June 9, 2020. We will also be sharing a newly created plan of expanded involvement with the Yakama Nation and the Latinx Community. We will use the feedback from this meeting to initiate further plans of action.

Please be assured that feedback from the Campus Conversation will be shared at the upcoming meeting with the Executive Committee (EC) of the President’s Council for DEI which involves internal and external stakeholders as well as student representatives. A more well-developed plan of action will be created throughout the year as we continue to bring our words into fruition. There will be ample opportunities for the PNWU community to continue to provide input in the development and implementation of the DEI framework and plan for PNWU.

We are committed to working together to enhance PNWU’s unwavering support to strengthen our institution as a place of respect, safety, and dignity for all.

Michael Lawler, PhD

Edward Bilsky, PhD
Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Thomas Scandalis, DO
Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the College of Osteopathic Medicine

Mirna Ramos-Diaz, MD
Director of Roots to Wings
Chair for President’s Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Statement from the Student Government Association President

Dear fellow PNWU students,

We are saddened and frustrated with the racial injustices and brutality that the Black community faces. Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and many others have unjustly lost their lives. Acknowledging racism that runs rampant in society is not enough; before society can tackle systemic racism, we must first start with self-reflection so that we can recognize our own biases and hold each other accountable.

When one embarks on the path to become a physician, race should not matter. However, race does matter. Black people living in America are disproportionately exposed to adverse life events which in turn results in worse health outcomes. As future physicians, we must acknowledge the disparity that comes from high cost of health care for patients from lower socioeconomic statuses who have repeatedly experienced fear of authority from police brutality. We can work together to fix this disparity through hard work and dedication. Together, we will support one another to become physicians who take time to learn about inequality and challenge opinions when others may be wrong. We must rally behind our Black community, take a stand, and say: Black Lives Matter.

This is the moment to make educational, legislative, and social change; to reject the status quo; to disallow ourselves to be overwhelmed into silence; and to utilize the visibility of this moment to build coalitions. We have the power to spark change as medical students, and we as members of the Student Government Association (SGA) are dedicated to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion at PNWU. Please submit your ideas and feedback here on diversity equity, and inclusion (DEI) at our school as we are currently planning to create a space for reflection, growth, and education that supports Black lives and their well-being. We want to hear your feedback in regards to diversity at our school, as well as ideas for future diversity education and training. If you have any further questions, please email Together, we can make a difference.

Very Respectfully,
Dua Khan, SGA Executive President

Sarah Moritz, SGA Vice President
Andrew Gurewitz, SGA Treasurer
Jaimie Fong, SGA Secretary
Oak Sonfist, SGA Senator for Diversity and Inclusion & Student Rep. for President’s Council on DEI
Alex Matlock, Student Rep. for President’s Council on DEI