First OUWB Diversity Week aims for ‘more meaningful understanding’ of community
An image of the OUWB Class of 2023 at orientation in 2019
OUWB's Class of 2023 during orientation on Aug. 6, 2019.

Kicking off Monday is a new week of events that aims to offer a more meaningful understanding of the wide array of backgrounds and perspectives at OUWB.

The inaugural OUWB Diversity Week is set to involve all of the school’s identity-based student organizations, from Queers & Allies (Q&A) and the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) to the Catholic Medical Student Association (CMSA) and Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA).

The week (that begins April 24) will feature informative posters and décor in the main hall (second floor) of OUWB’s O’Dowd Hall, along with a diversity in health care physician panel, game night, and a special “Around-the-World Night.” (See complete schedule below)

Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Community Engagement, said the week represents an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about “the richness of our uniqueness, and allow us to learn new ideas, hear each other’s stories, and ultimately grow as a community.”

“Diversity Week affirms our commitment to our values, vision and mission here at OUWB,” she said. “It also provides an opportunity where diverse perspectives, cultures and values are celebrated, accepted, and welcomed.”

M2 Kevin Van led creation of the special week that he calls “a collaborative event” with leadership of the 14 identity-based student organizations

“The week is intended to recognize all of our identity-based student organizations at OUWB…all of the unique backgrounds and perspectives that we all bring to campus,” said Van.

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Van said he and the event's planning committee modeled the week after similar versions held at other schools.

It will be different than the student organization fair that is held every year during orientation for OUWB’s incoming class, too, he said.

“That’s to introduce student orgs to new students,” said Van, adding this week is about recognizing and helping people better under the “diversity that’s right in our own backyards.”

Representatives from organizations like the Jewish Medical Student Association (JeMSA) are looking forward to the week.

“JeMSA views Diversity Week as worthwhile to participate in because it allows us to teach other people about Judaism and the culture that comes with it,” said Joanna Wasvary, M2, president, JeMSA.

“In addition, we get to learn about other religions and cultures,” she said. “We think this week will be a lot of fun while being an extremely worthwhile learning experience.”

Andrew Glaza, M2, president of CMSA, said his organization also is excited to be part of the event.

"It aligns with our organization's values and mission of upholding the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine," he said. "The tenets of the Catholic faith call for serving the poor and vulnerable. One of the many ways to do so is through advocating for inclusivity and diversity in health care. Diversity Week aims to highlight and promote the various identities encountered in the health care community in an increasingly connected world."

CMSA and JeMSA will be among the participants at the “Around the World Night” event, which will be held Thursday, April 27, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., in room 203 of O’Dowd Hall.

During the event, the 14 student orgs will have their own stations, where they will have displays and discussions with station-visitors surrounding important identity-centered topics, relevant symbolic meanings, or health implications surrounding their represented organization.

Everyone will receive a “passport” that will be stamped as they go through all the stations “around the world” for a prize when it has been completed.

“I am hoping this event, in particular, will give our faculty and staff a more meaningful understanding of the wide array of backgrounds and perspectives we have at OUWB among the student body, and in turn, the diversity among our faculty and staff from the students’ perspectives,” said Van.

“We all constantly interact with one another on a day-to-day basis, yet we don’t fully recognize or talk about the different identities that have influenced our journeys prior to, and at OUWB; and more importantly, the aspects of our identity that shape the people we all are today,” he added.

Van said he hopes OUWB Diversity Week eventually becomes one of the school’s signature events.

“I hope this is the start of more diversity weeks to come for future classes,” said Van. “Hopefully, they transform it into something more and more meaningful and impactful as years go on.”

Here is the schedule for the week:

  • Décor/Posters and Identity Board Activity
    All week
    Main hallway, second floor, O’Dowd Hall 
  • Diversity in Healthcare Physician Panel
    Tuesday, April 25
    4:30 – 6 p.m.
    203 O’Dowd Hall

The event will feature a discussion and Q&A with an array of providers surrounding the quintessential role of diversity among health care teams and the implications of having varying perspectives on patient care. This event is open to all students, faculty, and staff of OUWB and food will be provided. 

  • Virtual Diversity Jeopardy Night
    Wednesday, April 26
    7 – 8 p.m.

 Brush up on your diversity knowledge and join OUWB's identity-based student organizations for a virtual DEI Jeopardy Night, where teams will compete through a Jeopardy-style layout based on diversity and cross-culture questions for the chance to win prizes. This event is open to all students, faculty, and staff. 

  • Around-the-World Night
    Thursday, April 27
    5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    203 O’Dowd Hall
    (See story above for details)

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

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

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.