Dear students, alumni, and friends,
The Department of Biology shares your pain, your anguish, and your indignation at the injustices of the recent killings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others by police and vigilantes.
In the face of recent acts of racial violence, the Department of Biology stands in solidarity with our students, alumni, and colleagues who challenge systemic institutional racism and seek justice for victims of racial violence and police brutality. We recognize that historical and contemporary policies and practices have sustained racial inequity in our nation, and that science and academia have not been immune to this discrimination. Our department joins individuals and institutions around the world in saying that Black Lives Matter. We are committed to increasing our support and advocacy for people of color in the classroom, laboratory, field, and the community at large so that we can help eradicate racism, amplify marginalized voices in STEM, and build a more equitable scientific community at VCU and beyond. We invite our students to reach out to the Department of Biology (firstname.lastname@example.org) or BioAdvising (email@example.com) to let us know how we can be better advocates for you.
The Department of Biology pledges to listen to our students and other experts so they can guide us in our quest for equity in STEM. This will be done through a number of channels including discussion-oriented courses on inequities in STEM at the undergraduate and graduate levels, outside the classroom student-faculty discussions, and increased departmental training in inclusion, diversity, and equity (Safe zone, implicit bias, culturally-aware mentoring, etc.). As we listen, we will continue to modify our action plan to best serve our diverse student population.
In the meantime, the Department of Biology will continue to make recruiting, retaining, and supporting diversity in our leadership, faculty, staff, and students a priority; we will continue engaging in biomedical and environmental research, training, and outreach that address health and economic disparities that are magnified by inequities in our health care system and global change; and we will continue fostering inclusive practices in the classroom to help all of our students engage and persevere in their studies to achieve their goals.
Sincerely and with greatest respect,
VCU Department of Biology
Derek Johnson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair
Fernando Tenjo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Associate Chair