Larner Students Lead Advocacy for Protection in Admissions for Activism Legal History

August 3, 2020 by Erin Post

Medical students at the Larner College of Medicine led a national movement in June to appeal to key national medical education organizations to advocate for a change in assessing a record of arrest stemming from social justice-related protesting. Larner students built a coalition of eight national student organizations, and crafted a letter signed by thousands of student supporters that was sent to the members of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

Larner medical students join UVM health workers at a "WhiteCoatsForBlackLives vigil outside the College of Medicine on June 5. (Photo: Ryan Mercer)

Medical students at the Larner College of Medicine led a national movement in June to appeal to key national medical education organizations to advocate for a change in assessing a record of arrest stemming from social justice-related protesting.

This issue gained in visibility this spring with the increased focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters asserting their right to free speech and advocacy run the risk of arrest, and such an arrest in the past could cloud a person’s application to medical school and residency programs. Larner students built a coalition of eight national student organizations, and crafted a letter signed by thousands of student supporters that was sent to the members of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). On July 7, both the AAMC and AACOM released statements in support of the students’ request. The AAMC’s statement encouraged “selection committees in undergraduate and graduate medical education to conduct a holistic review of applicants and consider each individual in the context of their attributes and lived experiences and the institution’s mission.”

Luke Higgins ’22, Millen Abselab ’23, Mohammed Wali ’23, Emerson Wheeler ’22, and Zeynep Tek ’22 were the coauthors of the letter. The topic, as well as the AAMC guidance, were featured in a July 23 AAMC News article, titled "Medical students use momentum of anti-racism movement to advocate for change."

In a posting on the UVM Larner College of Medicine blog, Higgins wrote: “I am privileged to attend a school that fosters and elevates key discussions, such as a recent discussion around how our college can more effectively recruit persons taking action to seek a more just world.”

Read Luke’s post on the blog.


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