Dear School of Dentistry Students, Faculty & Staff,
With the current events going on in the country, difficult subjects and emotions are being brought forward. Unfortunately, issues of social justice have plagued the United States since the beginning; however, the tragic murder of George Floyd brings them to light yet again.
As our dental school slowly reopens to welcome students, faculty, staff, and patients back into our community this month, I find it important to reaffirm our commitment to matters of social justice, inclusion and equity. We pride ourselves on being an urban, Catholic, student-centered university inspired by the traditions and values of the Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus.
In the Spirit of the Sisters of Mercy, the School of Dentistry serves those who are marginalized by a lack of access to education and healthcare. And in the spirit of the Jesuit tradition, we value care and compassion for the individual person, cura personalis. As “men and women for others” in the Jesuit tradition, we are called to exist in the service of humanity. This has been an important trait since our opening.
As stated in the piece from the Office of Mission & Identity (link below), the devaluing of Black lives weighs heavy on us all. At this time, I especially want our Black students and employees to know that you are in my thoughts and your lives matter.
Each and every School of Dentistry student, faculty, and staff member is an important part of the community we live in, and further, the world. You bring a vibrant tapestry to our dental school and your contributions are a collection of all that is right with humanity.
You have my support and I am here for you. Let me know if there is any way I can help support you whether now or in the future.
Our administrative team members are finding ways to use our voices to speak out for racial justice and equality. The dental school has three members on the University’s Anti-Racism Task Force. Over the recent years we have grown and expanded our efforts in the area of equity and inclusion through the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.
The School of Dentistry’s strategic plan has moved forward several initiatives focused on addressing issues of equity, such as enhanced training on intercultural communication and microaggressions, an assessment of the inclusiveness of our dental school, and equity in professional development opportunities.
This week, President Garibaldi’s statement noted the importance of political action as an agent of change. To bring about justice, we must collectively use our voices. As an administrative team, we are happy to hear about any events or activities you would like to plan through our student organizations, faculty/staff development, or administrative offices to support social justice and equity in the future.
From the Office of Mission & Identity:
thank you for your consideration of these thoughts and for all you do for Detroit Mercy-
Mert N. Aksu, DDS, JD, MHSA Diplomate,
American Board of Dental Public Health Professor and Dean