Put DEI In DDS @ The University of Iowa
Put DEI In DDS @ The University of Iowa
The students of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry (CoD) are tired and stressed. Dental school is stressful, demanding, and requires a level of emotional labor that is indescribable unless you have gone through it. The rigorous curriculum of the program should be what makes dental school hard. Instead, a disruptive learning environment exists, one in which students question if their faculty or classmates will treat them differently based on the color of their skin, sexual orientation, mental or physical abilities, learning styles, gender, and more. Many students, staff, and faculty experience discrimination based on these identities, despite being protected under both state and federal human rights laws.
When the CoD and the University were put to the test and their core values of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” were challenged, they failed to uphold these values that they market to all current and prospective students, staff, and faculty. They have only worked to increase isolation and silence voices of those that hold marginalized identities. Additionally, The University of Iowa has actively worked to silence the CoD's administration and leadership. The CoD’s silence and passivity regarding this incident has left many of its students, staff, and faculty with the assumption that there is no value or commitment behind the words they so publicly advertise. We are given empty promises of safety, a welcoming environment, and an inclusive space for all.
One of the main goals for the CoD’s Strategic Plan 2020-2025 is to build a vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Part of that plan, including, “75% of visual signage produced… will include diverse representation”, was enacted. The CoD made sure to promote smiling faces of their marginalized students. But when it came to following through with other promises such as, “Enhance reporting mechanisms to address discrimination or harassment concerns,” “Promote department and individual accountability for achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion-related performance outcomes,” and “Recruit and retain high caliber students from underrepresented communities,” they failed their students. Marginalized students do not feel their complaints are being heard or attended to, departments are not aligned on how to support marginalized students who do not feel safe with specific faculty, and many students of color not only wonder if they made a mistake coming here, but they want to discourage friends and family from making the same mistake.
A DEI Action Plan was created in collaboration with administration and students based on the University of Iowa College of Dentistry Strategic Plan of 2020-2025. The collegiate community was assured that this plan would be enacted in an effort to reduce all of these long-standing concerns. To date, many of these items have not been addressed, there has been no transparency to the student body, and the plan lacks the comprehensive and structural revisions that are needed.
The Hawkeye community should be better than this. We demand better than this. Historically, marginalized voices have not had the same seat at the table as other voices at the school. The time to change that is now. Students at the CoD are now calling upon their administration to take the necessary actions we have detailed on the Action UIowa Task Force Call to Action (link below). If these necessary steps are not taken, not only will the CoD fail their strategic plan, but they will have failed their Hawkeye community.
By signing this petition, I call the University of Iowa and the CoD to take action to support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of marginalized identities. Furthermore, if no action is taken, I ask that the University and CoD stop claiming to value diversity, equity, and inclusion as a core pillar to its institution and stop providing this false narrative to prospective students.
Action UIowa Task Force
Action UIOWA Task Force Call to Action - https://actionuiowataskforce.wixsite.com/deiindds/call-to-action
Please read the following links to get more information and context on the situation at the CoD:
Daily Iowan article about email thread- https://dailyiowan.com/2020/10/27/email-thread-within-the-college-of-dentistry-community-sparks-debate/
Daily Iowan article illustrating the effects on marginalized identities - https://dailyiowan.com/2020/12/01/isolated-and-anxious-university-of-iowa-dental-students-react-to-an-email-thread-and-remarks-made-within-their-college/
Daily Iowan article about legislator involvement - https://dailyiowan.com/2020/12/03/iowa-legislatos-weigh-in-on-college-of-dentistry-free-speech-concerns/