Center for Inclusion opens its doors to students in Roanoke | VTX

In the spring of 2020, the VTCSOM hosted a Town Hall to discuss national events that shine a light on systemic racism and sought to identify opportunities to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in school.

“This center of inclusion, this safe space, is not just a physical place where we can find that comfort when we feel overwhelmed by all that is happening in the world around us, but rather represents that each of our voice is valid,” said Sarah Yosief, a fourth-year student at VTCSOM. “It says we deserve the right to be ourselves without shame, without judgment, even if there is something out there that tells us differently. We deserve to be heard, and that safe space means our voices cannot be silenced.

The InclusiveVTCSOM Task Force, made up of more than 100 faculty, staff, and students, grew out of town hall and other community forums. The task force developed key recommendations, including a center for inclusion. At the same time, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force was hosting a series of community engagement meetings where students and faculty defined and updated principles and policies.

“Listening sessions and candid conversations were held to better understand the needs and concerns of the entire health sciences community,” said Michael Friedlander, Vice President of Health Sciences and Technologies. and Executive Director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. “While we often hear and reflect on different perspectives in the classroom, this space is for students and trainees who want to deepen their knowledge, challenge their own biases, and build relationships with others, both in their scientific endeavors and as humans, colleagues, and friends. We want to provide the resources and foster a sense of mutual understanding, respect, and caring that begins in the classroom and the lab around shared interests in biomedical science and health research and also extends to the relationships they build with the many people and perspectives they meet during their time here, throughout the community.

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