I graduated from medical school in 2006 and entered residency afterwards, so I am well acquainted with how the visiting medical student rotations work. These are typically mandatory electives that students and programs use to effectively fill their residency slots. The student chooses which program to do their mandatory elective at based on which program they want to attend as a resident (where they actual gain the skills to practice whatever specialty - including primary care - they have chosen). The departments at these hospitals use these student rotations to try out the students to see if they want to rank them highly on the match should the students choose to rank the program. The Match is where residencies and students rank their favorite program and then the student is "matched" into the one place that they must accept. So, it is no small thing that many of these programs are limiting applications to certain groups. There is no other way to gain admission to a residency on the first round where the most desirable residency slots are filled. So, placement into these student volunteer programs is absolutely critical to career trajectory of medical students.

Limiting admission into these student electives to favorable groups is a blatant attempt to limit the admissions to the residency programs to certain groups which sounds like an end run around equal opportunity laws governing admissions to the residency programs (all of which are funded by medicare and so subject to federal law).

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There is a large research university in my region that held an Emerging Scholars symposium last year for racial and ethnic minorities in my field of psychology. The programming described it as an invited conference on diversity, equity, and inclusion. As an Asian-American, I was excited to apply, particularly for the component of their cross-cultural competency workshop, as cross-cultural issues are a key part of my clinical practice.

Well, this excitement quickly dissipated when, upon a closer reading of the application, I realized it was open only to racial and ethnic groups that have been "historically underrepresented in the Academy," which they specified include "people who identify as Black/African-American, Native American/Alaska Native, Latinx and/or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander."

At first, I was confused. As an Asian-American, I had been under the impression that I belonged to the ethnic minority group demographically referred to as Asian-Americans and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI). Further, I had thought people who were AANHPI *were* a historically underrepresented group in academia, among other sectors of the workforce.

In trying to understand why people of my ethnicity weren’t invited to the event, I realized that at some point, Asian-Americans had–at least by the “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” movement, as it were–become disaggregated from Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders as an ethnic minority group. I gather that the reasoning for this was because while we were *historically* underrepresented in many segments of society, major demographic shifts in recent decades have meant that Asian-Americans are no longer underrepresented in these areas. Of course, justifiably or not, there have been strong arguments made in the admissions process for colleges, and more recently in public magnet high schools, that Asian-Americans students are *overrepresented* as a demographic.

In this way, a semantic argument could be made that the symposium invitation should have read that it was open to groups that “are” ​​underrepresented in the Academy at present, as opposed to “historically” underrepresented. On one level then, as an East Asian-American, I can respect and understand why East Asian-Americans were not invited to this event, as we no longer have a problem of underrepresentation in most academic fields.

More importantly, however, I feel that this apportionment of AANHPI as an ethnic minority into represented Asian-American and underrepresented Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander groupings does a harmful disservice to the Asian-American ethnic groups who in fact remain significantly underrepresented within nearly every facet of higher education. By this, I’m referring in particular to South Asian and Southeast Asian ethnicities; not only is the limiting of networking and employment opportunities to South Asian and Southeast Asian-Americans especially unjust, it’s also plain factually incorrect not to include them as underrepresented ethnic groups.

Asian-Americans are not a homogenous group. In fact, it is the most economically diverse of all racial and ethnic groups, and among the most unequal in levels of educational, social benefits receipt, and other measures of socioeconomic status. Yet, in the ideology of DE&I, we increasingly are being treated as a monolith, and underrepresented ethnic minorities are unfairly being excluded from opportunities as a result.

Finally, a few stray observations regarding the university’s overall, institution-wide Emerging Scholars Program, at least in its current implementation:

For the psychology department’s symposium I initially tried to apply to, the workshop on cross-cultural competency was being facilitated by Dr. Anu Asnaani, a “nationally acclaimed trainer for culturally-competent clinical research and service provision.” Yet, as a South Asian-American academic, she would not have been able to participate in this symposium at all if she were earlier in her career.

The stated goal of one of their school’s Emerging Scholars symposium was to make education in their field more “diverse and inclusive.” I’m not sure if the irony that their policy to invite only certain racial and ethnic minority groups is, by its very nature, non-inclusive, occurred to them when they were deciding on their audience. Does it help to achieve greater racial and ethnic diversity in their academic field? One could argue so. But does it do so at the cost of making the field feel less welcoming and belonging for individuals of a certain racial and ethnic minority group (indeed, the most internally diverse along measures of most diverse internally along measures of socioeconomic status, health, education level, etc.)? This also appears so.

And like the erosion of Asian-Americans’ earned place in the most competitive universities and magnet schools, I find it deeply troubling that the actual actions of DE&I initiatives are at times so antithetical to the validly noble missions they purport.

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