BESA Statement on Systemic Racism

This statement is intended to express the commitment of the Biomedical Engineering Student Association (BESA) to combat systemic racism and lay out concrete steps we can take as individuals and as an organization.

General Statement: We are deeply saddened by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many other victims of the systemic racism and anti-Blackness that plagues our country. We recognize the daily inequities and injustices that disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) within academia, STEM, and communities at large. BESA is committed to acknowledging our shortcomings in actively promoting diversity and inclusion and improving our programs. We encourage our members to challenge their own implicit biases and strive toward anti-racist thoughts and practices.

As BESA, our overarching goals are to build and support the biomedical engineering community with activities designed to communicate recent advances, discoveries, and inventions; to promote educational and professional development; and to integrate the perspectives of the academic, governmental, and business sectors. This mission means we should strongly support our BIPOC colleagues, now more than ever. Below we have laid out concrete actions we can take to move in this direction.

As you read this statement, remember that while this may feel overwhelming, we just need to start with small steps. Just taking the time to educate yourself is already very impactful! We know that these events require both immediate and lasting change, and we are committed to continuing this work as part of our mission to serve the BME community.

I.  What can we do as a student organization?

  • Promote and connect to campus and community resources and events for healing and change, including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office’s Racial Trauma Resources, by providing resources in the BESA Newsletter, First-year orientation, and Slack channels.
  • Ensure diverse representation within panels and invited speakers for student-run events such as Biomaterials day and BMEGG Symposium
  • Get involved in outreach activities with other campus organizations that focus on diversity and inclusivity (e.g., CAMP, STEM for Girls, BMES)
  • Organize a discussion of Black literature through coffee hours and book clubs and promote anti-racist reading lists for self-education.

II. What changes will we actively support in the BMEGG and the BME Dept?

  • Work with BMEGG leadership to promote diversity and encourage inclusion of a diverse group of students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to participate in the Equity, Health, and Wellness Committee
  • Participate in strategies to promote diversity in graduate student applicants – tabling at BMES and other conferences, targeting students from California State schools and historically black colleges and universities, and reaching out to potential applicants.
  • Highlight our efforts and commitment on campus BME websites
  • Organize anti-racist themed seminars during the weekly seminar series, e.g. solicit a presentation by a researcher in the area of barriers faced by marginalized groups in STEM
  • Prioritize including diverse seminar and symposium speakers to put a spotlight on marginalized voices.
  • Work with the admissions committee to increase awareness about implicit bias and create an equitable review process.
  • Consider dropping the GRE from our grad school application. It is not required for this application cycle (2020), but eliminating it altogether will require a vote from BMEGG.

III. What actions can we take as individuals?

  • Educate ourselves about the history of anti-Blackness in this country and in academia, and learn about what we can do to be part of the change.
  • Be kind to our Black colleagues and do not ask them to educate us, doing the work ourselves will create better allies.
  • Be open to uncomfortable conversations and listen to others’ perspectives.
  • Amplify the voices of BIPOC whenever we can (e.g. social media, speaker nominations, etc.)
  • Diversify our social media by following BIPOC and learning from their perspectives.
  • Do not stand for acts of anti-Blackness, from microaggressions to overt acts; instead, be willing to stand up and practice anti-racism.

IV. Recommended Resources:

  • Resources for Racial Trauma - The office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has created this website with resources to support our community as we continue to find ways to build and strengthen our diverse culture at UC Davis.

If you find a main point we missed, feel free to email us at