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UC Davis BME Community Comes Together to Create Health, Equity and Wellness Committee

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the Spring of 2020 and the national attention on the severe problems that remain regarding anti-black racism in the U.S., the department of biomedical engineering came together to form the Health, Equity and Wellness (HEW) committee to address some of the practices and policies in their community that support a given culture. Professor and department chair Steven George states, “I felt that a committee with broad representation from the entire community would be able to examine our culture/climate regarding health, equity, and wellness broadly, but perhaps focus initially on anti-black racism. This committee would need to commit to maintaining our strengths while improving on our weaknesses in both the short and long term.”

The committee is made up of members from all groups within the UC Davis BME community including students, faculty and staff. “All of these groups are important stakeholders in the overall mission and vision of the community as a whole, and each are potentially impacted by racism or prejudices differently. It was/is important for the entire community to be part of this movement going forward.”

Associate professor Sanjeevi Sivasankar is serving as the inaugural chair of the HEW committee. “Our committee’s activities are focused around cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment within our department. We are currently surveying students, staff and faculty to assess where our community stands with regard to equity, integrity, diversity and inclusion. These anonymous surveys will inform us on things we are doing well and ‘pinch points’ we need to work on.” The committee plans to use the results from the survey to develop activities that promote diversity, equity and inclusion values within the BME department as well as develop educational and professional development activities that will empower students and inform training, hiring and retention of staff and faculty. They are also collaborating with other groups on campus to provide DEI training to the BME community, promoting equity and wellness resources via the department website, and enhancing diversity among speakers invited to address the department as a part of the weekly BME Seminar Series.

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