Our current national circumstance illuminates deeply ingrained fissures in the fabric of the American nation. We in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut are outraged and deeply saddened at the murder of George Floyd. We recognize that it is the result of four centuries of systemic racism, which has levied a heavy tax on Blacks in the United States. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean and countless others have paid that tax with their lives. We recognize that the burden of inherently racist systems has propagated inequities in health, health care, wealth, and educational opportunity. Equity can only be realized when inequality and injustice are intentionally named, defined, and rectified.
It is from our position in higher education, research and as experts in nutritional science that we commit to addressing systemic racism. An undertaking for immediate and long-term action for sustainable change is needed. Doing so will require a multi-pronged effort. To that end, we will begin to address inequity by:
- Diversify our student body. Underrepresentation of racial/ethnic minority students in accredited nutrition and dietetics programs and in the dietetic profession is an important issue for the field. We commit to increasing the diversity of our students to provide a greater opportunity in the nutrition discipline.
- Provide the opportunity for research skill development and professional advancement training to underrepresented students of color at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels.
- Diversify our faculty by increasing efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented scholars of color, and scholars whose work reflects diversity and inclusion.
These few steps represent the start of an ongoing and evolving move towards opportunity for all. We recognize that education is one piece of addressing systemic racism and its inherent inequities. We will strive to create an educational environment where students, trainees, faculty and staff will find safety, acceptance and opportunity, so that they may flourish.