For Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine’s Class of 2025, the first full day of orientation centered on the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

First full day of orientation for OUWB’s matriculating class centers on diversity
Orientation 21 - Day 2
OUWB M1s Nitin Venkatesh (left) and Elan Pszenica (right) participate in one of many of the group activities held during Monday's session on diversity and inclusion.

For Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine’s Class of 2025, the first full day of orientation centered on the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Led by OUWB’s Diversity & Inclusion team, the theme was “Building Community: Understanding Your Role as an Advocate for Diversity.”

Four sessions were held with a wide range of diversity and inclusion topics covered including unconscious bias, institutional racism in health and medicine, levels of racism, enhancing community through LGBTQ+ inclusivity, health care disparities, and identifying inappropriate behavior in an academic environment.

Tiffany Williams, Ph.D., director, Diversity & Inclusion, said the discussions need to happen early in the matriculation process so students keep the topics top of mind.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion is so important to our everyday lives,” she said.

“As we bring new students to our campus, we’re trying to build community, a sense of belonging.”

Williams said she hoped students also took away recognition of the different social identities and backgrounds their colleagues have brought to OUWB.

She said it’s about saying, “OK, my individual classmates are different from me, but it’s important that I’ve recognized those differences and I’m able to put into perspective how those differences affect how we interact with one another.”

‘Developing that self-awareness’

Monday’s session was the second year in a row that OUWB’s matriculating class has spent a full day of orientation on diversity, equity, and inclusion. It was the first time the session was held in person.

Deirdre Pitts, Ph.D., associate dean for Academic, Faculty Affairs and Diversity & Inclusion, led the day’s events and made sure everyone was engaged and understood they were in a safe place.

Other session leaders were Angie Freeman, coordinator, Diversity & Inclusion, and Diversity & Inclusion Assistant Deans Vonda Douglas-Niktin, M.D., Robert McClowry, M.D., and Tracey Taylor, Ph.D.

Taylor addressed the importance of the day.

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“(The students) are going to be a class for the next four years so we want to set them up for success,” she said. “These are skills and actions they need to know about from day one.”

Several students said they found the sessions enlightening. 

Zane Alroshood called the session “very thorough.”

“We’re addressing topics that sometime don’t come to light very explicitly and in a way that makes sure everyone gets a chance to really say what’s on their mind,” he said.

Cloe Nazeer said she felt the event went “very well.”

“I feel like it’s a good, safe space,” she said. “They’re adamant that if you’re comfortable to speak you can, but if you’re uncomfortable you don’t have to.”

Bianca Ellis said she was particularly struck by some of the information presented on health care disparities, while Jonathan Blake called the topics discussed “really good things to be aware of.”

Andrew Eibling said many of the topics addressed were missing from his experience as an undergrad, and Assem Ellythy said he felt the presentation was consistent with the day’s theme of “community of support.”

“It’s a good thing to learn about how people perceive each other and have biases that they may not be aware of,” he said. “Developing that self-awareness is really important in medicine.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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