Statement on Racism from Stempel College

Statement from Dean Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work

The Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work stands together with our students and community to end racism in our country and across the globe.

The pain and anger we’ve seen from demonstrators highlight an immediate need to change, which has been overlooked for too many generations. Racism must stop – now.

Racism is a pervasive public health crisis and we must work together to ensure plans are put into action that will create a just and fair world.

We know that COVID-19 has disproportionally affected communities of color. We know that health disparities have fallen on these communities for generations. We also know that we need to do everything in our power to change the way Black individuals are treated.  Change starts with acknowledging the issues, as well as educating ourselves and each other, about injustices that have prevailed for many generations.  Black Lives matter!

It is our responsibility as public health practitioners and educators to take action and ensure a brighter future for all voices to be equally heard so social justice and health equality is available for all.

Statement on behalf of the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, by the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee

The Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work joins the world in mourning and embitterment over the wrongful deaths of our fellow black citizens. The lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade were wrongfully cut short at the hands of an agency designed to protect the lives of all individuals under its jurisdiction. The painful reality is that these individuals are but just a few of many, over decades, that have fallen to similar fates due to institutional racism.

As evidence in the news, people are uniting to bring a stop to this injustice. Global protest efforts give us hope that overdue change will happen, and our college strongly supports this cry for justice. With a motto of being “together for the greater good,” we have long recognized the need and importance of establishing a community of inclusivity. While we are committed to creating an environment that treats everyone equally, we want to be clear that this includes creating an environment that supports and values the Black community. We are a proud entity that does not tolerate or condone any acts of discrimination, bigotry, or racism and our motto reflects this. Any said action has no place in our institution.

The advancement of our college cannot happen without the valuable input, insight, and contributions of all members. To ensure that all voices are heard and that our college reflects the cultural richness of our global society, it established a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee that has been working on initiatives, since its creation, to increase representation within the college at the student, faculty, and staff levels. At this time, the Committee has decided upon the following actions to help ensure our college remains a place of inclusion:

  • We will work with the FIU Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access, and the FIU Division of Human Resources to establish a means on the Stempel College website for students, faculty, and staff to anonymously disclose/report any forms of discrimination or unfair treatment observed or personally encountered.
  • We will increase the visibility of resources that are currently in place, including access to a university Ombudsperson, to help students, faculty, and staff with reporting or addressing matters of discrimination and/or unfair treatment.
  • We will educate all of our incoming students on all available resources that exist to address and/or report actions of discrimination.
  • We are prioritizing educating our leaders of tomorrow with the skillsets and awareness they need to be racially competent professionals. To ensure this, our curricula, across all disciplines and degree levels, will contain rich content on systemic racism and its impact on health and wellbeing.
  • We will initiate conversations with community partners about how Stempel College can serve as a resource to address and mitigate the effects of racism and discrimination.
  • We will intentionally recruit faculty and staff who are black and from other underrepresented groups to create a more diverse and inclusive research and learning environment.

While this list highlights our initiatives, these action items are far from comprehensive and more are in development. This Committee’s actions are more than a promise but a commitment that we, as a college, will uphold not just now but for years to come in the future. As a conglomerate of allied health professionals, we have a responsibility to not only solve complicated health and social welfare issues but to also serve the most underserved populations affected by them. May our college, anchored in serving underserved communities, be a leader and example through our actions on this social justice issue and through the bold steps that we take to combat it.

The university has the following channels for students, staff, and faculty to report concerns related to discrimination or unfair treatment, observed or personally encountered.

FIU Discrimination Complaint Processing Form

At Florida International University, if any applicant, employee, or student has a good faith belief that they have been discriminated against or harassed based on age, color, disability, gender, marital status, ethnic/national origin, race, religion, retaliation, sexual harassment, or any other protected category, the Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access (IDEA) encourages them to complete the Discrimination Complaint Processing Form. IDEA will investigate the complaint in accordance with University Policy and Procedures.

Here is the form to submit a concern: https://forms.fiu.edu/view.php?id=507383

University Ombudsman – Student

The University Ombudsman provides a forum for students to discuss and identify options to resolve student issues with faculty, staff, departments, or programs. The Ombudsman helps students who have encountered problems or conflicts within the University, particularly problems not being adequately addressed through normal channels, or which processes and procedures seem incapable of, or are causing an inordinate delay in resolving. The Ombudsman may resolve problems through various methods, including making inquiries or referrals to the appropriate University department for review (https://studentaffairs.fiu.edu/get-support/ombudsman/index.php)

Contact information:

Sofia Trelles, Student Ombudsperson
Graham Center 219
Email: Ombuds@fiu.edu
Phone: 305-348-2797

University Ombudsman – Faculty

The primary duties of an organizational ombudsman are (1) to work with individuals and groups in an organization to explore and assist them in determining options to help resolve conflicts, problematic issues or concerns, and (2) to bring systemic concerns to the attention of the organization for resolution.

An organizational ombudsman operates in a manner to preserve the confidentiality of those seeking services, maintains a neutral/impartial position with respect to the concerns raised, works at an informal level of the organizational system, and is independent of formal organizational structures. Successfully fulfilling that primary function in a manner consistent with the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice requires a number of activities on the part of the ombudsman while precluding others.


Contact information:

Lauren Christos

Email: OmbudsFIU@gmail.com

Phone: 305.348.4904

Offices: GL 475 B & HL 102C (by appointment – please email ombudsfiu@gmail.com)

In addition, anyone is welcome to contact the Chair or Vice-Chair of the Stempel College Diversity and Inclusion Committee:

Chair: Patria Rojas proja003@fiu.edu

Vice-Chair: Deidre Okeke dokeke@fiu.edu


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