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Investigation: Racial Identity Politics Consumes SUNY Upstate Medical University

Investigation: Racial Identity Politics Consumes SUNY Upstate Medical University

A leading state medical school in Syracuse, NY, has embedded racial consciousness into almost every aspect of its admissions, hiring, and programming.

SUNY Upstate Medical University (“Upstate Medical”) is a highly-regarded, public medical school in Syracuse, New York, which was founded in 1834. Upstate Medical is rated well-within the top 100 Best Medical Schools for Research, coming in at number 84 by U.S. News Weekly Best Grad Schools (tied with Augusta University in Atlanta, Georgia).

Upstate Medical offers its 1,340 full-time and 252 part-time students with four colleges: (1) the College of Graduate Studies; (2) the College of Health Professions; (3) the College of Medicine; and (4) the College of Nursing. This University provides the New York region with the only academic medical center, and the region’s only Level 1 Trauma and Burn Center. At Upstate Medical, there are 2,424 faculty, 47 residency programs, 9,849 employees, 619 residents, and 25 buildings on 30 acres of land.

In early September of 2020, however, Legal Insurrection Foundation (“LIF”) received a tip regarding the implementation policies that subject medical students, faculty, and staff to racial identity politics. LIF began its investigation and has found substantial evidence suggesting Upstate Medical’s programming may go beyond identity politics, and instead reflect the institutionalization of the controversial doctrine of Critical Race Theory.

Because Upstate Medical is subject to the NY Freedom of Information Law, LIF, together with the Washington Free Beacon, has filed a FOIL Request for records. We will update this investigation as more documents and information are received.

Racial Identity Politics At Upstate Medical

Racial identity has become a critical focus at Upstate Medical. Upstate Medical makes the following “Diversity Statement” on its College of Medicine website:

The College of Medicine (COM) of Upstate Medical University commits to creating and sustaining an environment that is equitable, respectful and free from prejudice for students, faculty, staff, patients, families, and members of our community. It is our policy to promote a diverse and inclusive campus, through recruitment of faculty and staff, admissions initiatives, and support programs. We are committed to addressing the shortage of doctors in small communities, rural areas and Native American communities in our region, and in rural underserved communities. We promote the values of diversity and inclusion throughout the mission of the university and in the various functions supporting those missions. Diversity adds value to the learning environment of our students, and we believe it will enhance their commitment to addressing inequities in healthcare.

We promote the values of diversity and inclusion throughout the mission of the university and in the various functions supporting those missions. Diversity adds value to the learning environment of our students, and we believe it will enhance their commitment to addressing inequities in healthcare.

Upon application, one may be asked during the interview process to defend one’s “cultural competence“, by explaining experiences of “working with others that were different from you.” If accepted, during orientation, medical students are introduced (if they have not been already) to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Upstate Medical has an Office of Institutional Equity, which “is responsible for overseeing all investigations of discrimination, harassment and Title IX complaints, as well as conducting campus-wide anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training.  In addition to training and investigations, this office ensures compliance with SUNY policies”, this is, apparently, not enough to fight social justice wars waging at the New York medical school.

Enter stage left the “Diversity Task Force” and the “Implementation and Oversight Tiger Teams” (“Tiger Teams”).

Diversity Task Force

In June 2020, at the direction of then-Interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD (now the President of Upstate Medical), the Chief Diversity Officer, Daryll Dykes, PhD, MD, JD, assembled a task force to achieve “the herculean task to make actionable recommendations to move Upstate in a bold new direction toward greater diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging” (emphasis in original).

On August 31, 2020, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion published the 164-page Report of the 2020 Diversity Task Force (“the Report”). According to the Report, the Diversity Task Force will examine, “research and discuss issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Upstate Medical University” and “brainstorm potential action items to address issues identified.” These “potential action items” were dived into twelve (12) categories:

  • Student, Resident and Fellow Issues
  • Faculty Issues
  • Staff Issues
  • Alumni Issues
  • Patient Issues
  • Community Issues
  • Curriculum and Training Issues
  • Access and Equity Issues
  • Bias Reporting Issues
  • Policy Issues
  • Branding, Communication and Space Issues
  • Office of Diversity & Inclusion Reorganization and Diversity Consortium

Four to six Diversity Task Force Members were assigned to each of the twelve “potential action items”. On July 21, 2020, these subgroups produced a preliminary report to Dr. Dewan, which described 65 discrete action items: 28 immediate-term, 30 intermediate-term, and 7 long-term action items.

What was the Diversity Task Force’s first recommendation? Establishing the Implementation and Oversight Tiger Teams.

Tiger Teams

According to the Report, the Tiger Teams serve “to further evaluate, prioritize, develop, and coordinate the action items proposed in the Task Force report” and are “comprised of students, staff members and faculty members, including members of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the President’s Diversity Council, and the College of Medicine Dean’s Diversity Committee, having subject matter expertise, job responsibilities, or interests related to particular action items”. (Note: “Tiger Team” is a military term, often used for a military force seeking to physically infiltrate an specific area…).

The Diversity Task Force recommended establishing five (5) categories of Tiger Teams:

  1. Policy, Bias Reporting, and Mitigation;
  2. Recruitment & Retention;
  3. Patient, Community, and Alumni Services;
  4. Diversity Organization, Branding, and Messaging; and
  5. Education and Training.

The Diversity Task Force advises that the Tiger Teams complete the following Education and Training immediate-term action items:

Intermediate-term action items for the Education and Training Tiger Teams include the following:

  • implement required longitudinal bias mitigation training for faculty;
  • implement required faculty development focused on understand and teaching content related to the role of racism and implicit bias in health disparities;
  • implement longitudinal continuing education in bias mitigation for clinicians;
  • offer a required short course for all incoming/newly-hired faculty orienting them to social justice and to Upstate’s mission and culture, including an introduction to local history related to social justice;
  • implement longitudinal training in implicit bias and history of racism and relationship in creating and perpetuating social disparities of health for all employees;
  • offer a required short course for all incoming students, trainees and faculty and staff, orienting them to social justice and to Upstate’s mission and culture, including an introduction to local history related to social justice and brief training in bystander intervention for bias;
  • create systems of positive reinforcement to encourage faculty to go beyond cursory engagement in implicit bias and antiracism training;
  • offer a required interprofessional course for all Upstate students, across all programs, addressing core issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; and
  • implement a multi-level faculty educator development program, allowing for sustainable professional development with a focus on diversity.

The Diversity Task Force provided the following Diversity Organization, Branding, and Messaging immediate-term action items for one Tiger Team:

Further Investigation – Critical Race Theory

As mentioned above, LIF and the Free Beacon have served a FOIL request for records to get a deeper understanding of what is happening at Upstate Medical than is publicly available. Among other things, we seek the records of the Diversity Task Force and Tiger Teams, and the associated persons and groups, regarding these racial identity education issues for prospective students, students, faculty, and staff.

Racial identity politics infusing a medical school is worrisome enough, particularly when it reaches the emphasis that it has at Upstate Medical. More, however, needs to be known about the motivations of the people behind this push, what materials are being used, what presentations are given, and what benchmarks people are expected to meet to advance. The public record suggests that these racial identity efforts reflect Critical Race Theory, which has taken over training in the government, the workforce, and many corners of academia, resulting in President Trump’s Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.

We will keep you informed.


Leah M. Baldacci, Esq. is the Investigations Counsel at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.


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i want a well trained, competent doctor, nor a woke one.

and i wouldn’t want to w*rk with one either.

So the University of Rochester School of Medicine doesn’t exist anymore? Good to know.

    GeorgeCrosley in reply to irv. | December 9, 2020 at 7:47 am

    University of Rochester seems still to exist. They have a website and everything. “Upstate” is a separate institution.

    Chicklet in reply to irv. | December 9, 2020 at 11:33 am

    The U of R is 100 miles to the east of Upstate Medical (Syracuse, NY). Clearly I will pay much more attention to where my doctor has been trained after reading this, or stick with people who graduated at least 10 years ago.

    Medical education is facing a dozen crises right now, from admissions discrimination to forcing politically correct disease theories on the unsuspecting students. Some states also want to tie licensure to ‘wokeness’ so it is more important than ever to shun the crazy ones.

This is solid work. However, time is running out to bring upstate to the attention of the Dept. of Education.

The ironic thing is that this is literally the “Upstate” medical center. So, I assume that you would measure student and faculty demographics against the diversity of Upstate New York, not New York State or the Nation as a whole. Upstate NY is a lot less diverse than the NYC area.

Upstate politicians lobbied to bring a medical school to serve Upstate NY. Please enjoy the irony.

    lawgrad in reply to lawgrad. | December 9, 2020 at 7:49 am

    The President of Upstate Medical holds an MD from Mumbai University in India. He then did his residency at Upstate Medical. He answers to the SUNY (state-wide) Board of Trustees who in turn answer to the Governor and the tax payers.

caseoftheblues | December 8, 2020 at 11:38 pm

Good to know if I see a Dr. With a diploma from this place hanging on their wall probably better to walk out the door and find an actual doctor not a woke social warrior

How are some of you folks able to have profile pics?

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to BillyHW. | December 9, 2020 at 8:05 am

    You have to be one of the cool kids, of which I am one, 97.1 deg F body temp.

    Now, to answer your question in a proper manner:
    1. Go the right-hand column and find “Logged in as Billy HW”.
    2. Click on “site admin”.
    3. When the page opens, the left-hand column will display a set of three choices.
    4. Pick Profile
    5. Scroll down, and you will see a place to upload a profile picture.
    6. You will need to put one in Gravatar, which is easy. Note: Gravatar will NOT bug you with junk mail.
    7. Go from there, and, through the magic of 21st century technology, you will have an avatar.

    redc1c4 in reply to BillyHW. | December 9, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    sent the good professor $20, of course… 😉

    you should be able to load an avatar at your word press hoe page.

I assume they’re all Gravatars. Mine is.

One wonders if students…oh, I don’t know…..attend the school to LEARN?
Instead, they are being forced to focus on rightspeak. Implicit bias? I suspect such “bias” only runs in one direction. Diversity and inclusion sounds like diverse only in terms of race, and nothing else; inclusion, only in terms of sexual orientation, and nothing else.
How myopic and tiresome those words have become.

    lawgrad in reply to herm2416. | December 9, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Although each school has its own syllabus, every medical school “teaches to the test.” There is so much to learn that it is two years of intensive basic medical classes and then two years of clinical experience.

    How do you teach “effective bedside manner?” I can see how an instructor in that class would properly cover the difficulties in inter-racial communications, etc. However, it would not be a good idea to teach critical race theory or intersectionality to future doctors, many of whom are women and minorities, who will care for white male patients some day in the future.

      iconotastic in reply to lawgrad. | December 9, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      Discrimination against whites (particularly white males) is encouraged under the proudly racist Critical Race Theory. Poor care of white males simply makes the planet a better place.

Imagine being an MD/PhD/JD and you accept a position as a Chief Diversity Officer which is typically filled by someone with a Liberal Arts BA in “[fill in the aggrieved group] studies.”

How does “Dr” Dykes look in the mirror without seeing the image of abject failure? Did he really put all that effort into his education to do this? Wow.

Since only a handful of so-called medical schools do any significant research, that upstate SUNY rates only 84th of the top 100 medical schools in research is tantamount to saying that its contribution is just about worthless.

    alaskabob in reply to JAB. | December 9, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Exactly. When I attended there were about 115 accredited schools in the country. I was at one of top five. just waiting for Vet schools to go this route….how many genders do goldfish have?

    It is important to puts aside any bias when treating patients but this is not about patient care. This is social engineering to force change and create bias.

Am I alone in thinking that forced diversity training (ie, race-shaming) won’t have the desired long term social effect that SJWs appear to be demanding?

This CRAP makes you want to simply avoid any and all physicians who may be M.D.s as a result of affirmative action, the antithesis of a Meritocracy.

Go visit a medical school today- the entering class is carefully chosen to match a photo of the “ideal” makeup on a critical race theory brochure.

During class, any hint of questioning the ‘settled science’ that a 4 year old can change their gender puts you on the radar. Let that student go out for a beer with the white male and not the ‘non-binary’ person in a wheelchair, and your degree is in jeopardy.

This gets worse by the day, and until higher education is totally removed from the clutches of the left, or at least de-funded, we are in trouble.

Good to have the warning that any doctor with an MD from Upstate will be the most woke and not the best.

You know, I used to be skeptical of foreign-trained doctors, but if medical schools in Mumbai, Karachi and Hong Kong are not emphasizing this SJW Marxist garbage, then going forward, I think I will go with the foreign ones if I have a choice.

The more competent students will go to foreign universities for their training. Mexico has excellent medical schools, as does France and Spain.