UCSF Radiology's Staff DEI Committee Fosters Discussion to Fuel Learning

Martin Rawlings-Fein and Cindy Cheng UCSF Radiology Staff

The UC San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging's Staff Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee currently has 13 members and is led by Martin Rawlings-Fein, audio-visual technician, and Cindy Cheng, communications and events manager. The committee's goal is to make everyone in the department staff feel welcome and supported. To this end, they strive to help staff make connections and share across different cultures, promote allyship and ensure that staff perspectives on DEI are heard and incorporated into the department's work and culture. As Cindy said, "The more we talk, the more we learn."

Martin observes that, "We all come from different places and we need to really embrace each other. We want to make diversity, equity and inclusion something that is taken as a given."

To accomplish these goals, the committee organizes many events, almost one every month for the past year, including the RAD Against Racism speaker series. Event topics arise from discussion within the committee, brought forward by the committee members' own interests. As Martin described it, "These events are meant to bring us together and make it feel like we're not alone. Our greatest accomplishment has been listening to people and bringing their desired events to life. We want to bring out the stories from underneath."

The presentation, titled 'Asian Sexuality and Gender: Representation and Stereotypes in American Film,' was a particular hit. In fact, due to the positive response, the presenter, Hai Do, will be returning in the coming months to continue the discussion in a second encore event.

The 'Beyond Land Acknowledgement' Grand Rounds with Corrina Gould, Director of the Sogorea Te' Land Trust, brought people to the issues of being indigenous in the Bay Area. The event was a great way to open the door for people in the department to better understand the history and living reality of our region.

Other notable sessions include last year's 'Transgender Stories' with Martin, the Allyship session, a discussion on LGBTQ affirmative mental health with Mimi Hoang, PhD, and the most recent 'Baking Accessibility into Zoom' presentation with UCSF accessibility expert Jill Wolters. After each there is a discussion section where audience members are invited to not just learn but take part. 

The past two years have presented challenges for those working to foster feelings of community during a time when we are all staying at a distance. However, as it became possible to gather safely and responsibly, Martin and Cindy began to include more in-person events where people could interact face-to-face.

Cindy described one such experience when she and Martin attended the Transgender March: "During the March there was a beautiful moment of literal intersectionality. It was a life changing day because the news of the Supreme Court's overturn of Roe v. Wade had just happened. We and the Trans Parade met the route of the Women's Reproductive Liberty protest marching the opposite direction. There on Van Ness two marches merged and became this wonderful manifestation of collaboration as the Reproductive Liberty march turned to join the Trans March's direction. I thank Martin for including me in that day."

This is the start of a new era of in-person events. "We want to do things not just as committee members, but as a full department. We are all part of a larger community," Martin said.

Cindy continued, "It's not enough to just talk about these things, but you should go experience it. You have to be in it to understand it."

With this in mind, the committee leaders are looking into organizing groups to explore various internal cultural districts across the city either through committee outings or guided ethno-tours. These guided district experiences can provide an overview of contemporary issues, with a way to learn about the community and their expression by being a part of it. The goal is to organize groups of five to 10 people interested in learning first-hand about the city. Those who can attend such outings will then be able to bring back their own experiences and talk about it as part of the committee, pushing the discussion potential to a new level.

The committee is also looking to bring in local filmmakers to discuss their films with screenings for the department. This would feature films such as 'Chinatown Rising', a documentary about the rise of the Asian American Movement in the mid 1960s, and 'Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong Torres', chronicling the Chinatown-raised writer and rock-journalist. Martin and Cindy hope to put on one such movie-night screening and panel each quarter next year.

Martin and Cindy lead the DEI committee with a cheer and enthusiasm that is infectious. Cindy said, "It's more of a partnership than leadership. Martin and I don't even have to talk sometimes. One of us will mention an idea and find that the other is already working on it."

However, it is the members who truly make the committee. The staff DEI committee is always looking for new members to join their ranks. Membership is very easygoing, with the committee meeting once a month with a flexible schedule. Cindy said, "You can attend when you can. You can speak up when you want to. We each have our days when we just want to listen. The committee is so inviting, and there is no judgment."

Martin said, "If you want to see something happen, some event or discussion, join us and we'll make it happen."

Cindy continued, "What's important is that we talk and share about our experiences. Community requires a team and participation. But it's so much fun to learn together."

Want to learn more about the DEI committee or get involved? Check out these resources:

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