The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) Anti-racism roadmap is our co-created path to ensuring racial justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
The commitments and priorities outlined here represent the first step in our planning, development and implementation process.
Strategies and actions across all areas will be co-created over the coming months and years in close collaboration with the DGSOM Faculty Equity and Diversity Inclusion Committee, the DGSOM Staff Racial Justice Task Force, and our entire DGSOM community of trainees, staff and faculty.
UCLA has a robust system of reporting and support resources for those in need of guidance, counseling or resolution services.
We hear you, we see you, let's take steps to change together. The following 11 categories and proposals, with your input, are being refined and expanded upon to ensure that we are taking bold, decisive and evidence-based actions that reflect the needs and perspectives of our DGSOM community.
Below track the progress of changes in motion, and share your voice to co-create the next steps.
As we progress, we will tweak any approach with data-driven decisions.
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The Staff and Faculty Counseling Center offers free sessions to all staff and faculty.
For students, your Society Deans, Student Affairs Assoc. Deans (Dr. Lee Miller or Dr. Daphne Calmes), Curricular Affairs Assoc. Dean (Dr. Jason Napolitano), and Curricular Affairs Assistant Dean (Dr. Edward Ha) are all available to support you in any way possible.
For UCLA House Staff, your Program Directors and Associate Program Directors as well as GME Associate Dean (Dr. Perkins) and Assistant DIOs (Drs. Lisa Skinner and Areti Tillou) are all available to support you.
For Graduate Students, your Program Directors, GPB Director of Recruitment and Inclusion Diana Azurdia, and GPB Director Greg Payne are all available to support you.
For Postdoctoral Scholars, Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs Lynn Talton, and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Education Greg Payne are available to support you.
As we progress down this path together we need your voices to both inform the process, but help tweak and course correct it when needed.
With appreciation and gratitude for all co-creation efforts in this space.
Tier 1 of implementing RJ involves building a community worth restoring. A community that is centered on shared values, trust, and authenticity. As we strive to create the conditions that will support authentic dialogue (especially around difficult topics and in hierarchical structures), how we respond, matters. RJ invites everyone in the community to become more restorative, individually and collectively - in our thinking and our actions. We strive to become more mindful vs. reactive, lead with our best selves, listen deeply, and respond restoratively to the concerns and harms of individual community members.
I have worked on many challenging cases where trust is very low at the beginning of a process. As people wade in, they understandably test the process and the container. They are assessing whether they are safe or not. RJ invites us to meet people where they are, identify the needs created by their harm, and chart a path forward together to heal the harm and restore trust and the community. In many cases, people begin insisting on confidentiality. As trust increases, so does their comfort with greater transparency. I always begin by focusing on the needs of those who have experienced harm and partner with them and the community to identify restorative remedies that will meaningfully address their harm and meet their needs. In my experience, at some point in the journey, trust begins to be restored, and as a result, we evolve from a desire for confidentiality to a willingness for greater transparency.
I would say that the underlying element of safety is the true thing we talk about when we talk about confidentiality and anonymity. We feel the need to maintain these in a community where we feel unsafe. The process of RJ works to develop that sense of safety to be able to empower community members to feel comfortable and secure to shed that need and engage with community members as their whole selves.
Since everything in RJ is by invitation, not by force, we create community guidelines, which include keeping what is said in circle/conference confidential. We "take the learning and leave the stories." With that said, in climate circles, for example, we do have strategies for addressing problems in anonymous ways. Thus, every member is able to address a concern, and collectively the concerns are centered in the circle, for the whole group to address without revealing who expressed any particular concern.
Because RJ is focused on relationship and community, it should not conflict with situations for which an inquiry is in progress, and certainly there are situations that do not become formal Discrimination Prevention Office (DPO) / Title IX Office investigations. Also, RJ could be deployed after findings of an investigation, depending on circumstances.
There are two perspectives to consider when thinking about implementing RJ in a hierarchical structure. First and foremost, the work in Tier I of implementing RJ in a system is focused on leading with our core values and putting the well-being of the entire community at the center. This is largely about culture change, which doesn't happen overnight, but over time, with how we navigate situations, conversations and how we strive to prevent harm, and respond to it when it happens.
I believe restorative practices serve as one way we can begin to dismantle hierarchical structures that threaten healthy community and authentic dialogue. Circle practice inherently flattens the hierarchy by ensuring that all participants have an equal opportunity to share their perspectives, needs, and ideas for restorative remedies, regardless of their role or positional power. The discipline of inquiry invites all circle participants to engage in unpacking the distinction between intent and impact, cultivates deeper empathy, and humanizes those who are historically marginalized and seen as the "other".
Absolutely a concern that deserves gravity. I think this also speaks to the safety mentioned above. There is also work to be done that helps people understand that when stepping into circle, we are leaving a lot of the detrimental and limiting practices and beliefs of institution out of our circle, and that too intentionally. By naming the hierarchy and how it has impeded open, honest and meaningful connection in the past, we give ourselves power as a community to create space to rise above that limit.
In my opinion, the systems in place that create the power imbalances at the institution also discourage active accountability for causing harm. Thus, a faculty member who has caused harm, for example, is discouraged from engaging in meaningful dialogue aimed at restoring the fractured relationship. Further, they may be protected through structures that don't allow them to engage restoratively. And the person who has been harmed is left to construct a narrative about the experience without getting the answers/insight they need in order to seek clarity and find closure. Thus, whether RJ is implemented as incident to or in lieu of procedural remedies, both parties (when entering the circle) are no longer in a hierarchical relationship, rather a circular one where the harm is centered and they both feel supported by the community members present.
The restorative lens invites us to shift from asking questions like what rules were broken, and how should we punish those who broke the rules, to seeking to understand the perspectives of those who have experienced harm and how we can best meet their needs and chart a path forward together, given what has occurred. Those who have traditionally held power within a system tend to be much more willing to participate in restorative processes because remedies identified emerge out of a commitment to balance accountability and support when responding to harm. This could include faculty, administrators, and others who hold positional power. The humanity woven throughout a restorative response is much healthier, and therefore preferable to those responsible for harm.
The principle of RP that comes to mind here is building a container strong enough and vast enough to hold multiple realities in it at once. We often do not recognize in life that two very different, seemingly opposing things can be true at once… that the lived experiences of our community’s members vary. RJ very intentionally creates room and support for voices which may be marginalized outside of circle, for the humanity in people with and without power, the humanity in those who have harmed (unintentionally or otherwise) and those who have experienced that harm. When we step into circle we do with the premise that we value our community, that it is worth restoring and protecting and that we may need to do things differently to do just that.
I think I may have answered part of this question in my previous response. However, I will address the "connect all giving equal value as a human" part. It's important to note that, given the hierarchy/power imbalances you described, if someone in a position of power is not willing to engage restoratively (thus, giving others equal value), then this will not work. The potential for harm/re-traumatization is too high. Therefore, we have procedures, like pre-conferencing and coaching sessions, which prepare the person responsible for causing harm to take active accountability. Finally, given the fear of retribution/retaliation most students and staff feel in academic medicine, the more important question is how will they be supported by the institution should they choose to speak up?