Dean's Update

March 19, 2021 - Aron Sousa, MD


I want to start this week by expressing my sorrow and anger over the shootings in Georgia, which killed mostly Asian women. Clearly, discrimination, xenophobia, harassment, and violence against Asian/Pacific Island Americans (APIA) are to be condemned by everyone in the college and our university. As I outlined last month, anti-Asian attacks and harassment have been up this year related to the pandemic. The US has a long history of bigotry, attacks, and discrimination against this particular community – this year and this week have tragically added to that history.

Last night we met with faculty, staff, and students and had a remarkable discussion and listening session about anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander harassment, attacks, and violence. We discussed genocide, war history, refugees, attacks against elders, microaggressions, and the experiences and needs of students. I want to thank the students for their activism and mutual support. I want to thank Student Affairs for setting up the session for us and thank everyone who shared during the meeting. The experiences shared were powerful and meaningful.

Whether or not the shooter expresses his motive as racist, his murders clearly sit in the intersection of sexist and racist violence specifically directed at Asian women. A part of the structural racism and sexism in our country limits women and minoritized populations to work that increases the risks of violence, harassment, and even SARS-CoV2. As we think about the racism in these events, I think we need to also see the intersectionality within much of the discrimination, harassment, and violence. We are a community with a recent and well-known history of traumatizing women, and I know world events cause people to re-live traumatic experiences. MSU has resources to help if you feel that way.

Each of us need to be here for each other. As administrators, faculty and staff, we are here to listen as needed and support to the best of our ability. The college offers support to anyone struggling, and we know that some are especially struggling related to these traumas. Our Council on Diversity in Education will continue its work to improve the curriculum with regard to diversity, in particular xenophobia and anti-APIA constructs. (For assistance, resources and reporting, please see links below my signature.)

Through all that we face, the pandemic continues. Of late, COVID-19 cases are up in the area around Lansing and in other parts of Michigan. Our best weapons are vaccination, masks, and spatial distancing. Some of you will have seen President Stanley’s announcement that the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, which swept through Britain, was found in MSU’s community. The vaccines available in the US appear to do well against this variant, so we have reason for optimism. Within a few weeks all adults in Michigan will be eligible for vaccination as supplies allow. I appreciate all the work of our team and our community partners in getting our students vaccinated. It turns out not all colleges have had such success, and I want to thank everyone who has had a hand in keeping our students, and thus their patients and communities, safe.

Despite my general optimism, the virus is still dangerous. Another member of our college lost a close family member to the virus this week. We may see a clearing ahead, but we are not out of the woods. With that in mind, we must continue our vigilance and attention to safety.

Finally, this week was Match Week when students find out where they matched for residency. And, just as exciting to many, residencies find out which students matched into their residency. This was an abnormal year because all residency interviews were virtual and there were no away audition rotations. Our major concerns did not come to pass and students were generally very successful. While there is still a little bit of flux in the system, we are happy to report that 97% of seniors have residency placements as of noon today. We do not get data on whether students got their first or second choice, but based on our social media, many students are happy. That is wonderful!

Please take care of each other, listen to each other, and be rigorous about preventing the spread of COVID-19. Wear your mask, wash your hands, spatially distance, and when you get the chance, get vaccinated.

Serving the people with you,


Aron Sousa, MD
Interim Dean


Places to report:

Supportive resources:

For those interested in learning more about APIDA and Asian communities at MSU:

Read more from the Dean's Update archive