Students demanded racism be named a 'public health crisis,' the university agreed

University of Connecticut declared racism a 'public health crisis' after pressure from the school’s student government.

The state passed a declaration to that effect in spring 2021.

After pressure from student activists, the University of Connecticut has declared racism a “public health crisis.”

The university’s interim president, Andrew Agwunobi, released a statement September 22 that lauded UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government for asking that the school “follow the state [of Connecticut] in declaring racism a public health crisis.” 

Agwunobi’s statement referenced the Connecticut’s House of Representatives passing legislation June 1 that named racism as a public health crisis in a 114-33 vote. 

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“We will continue to evaluate and strive to improve the recruitment and retention of people of color throughout the university,” Agwunobi stated.

Agwunobi also touted the school’s various diversity committees, task forces, and anti-racism classes, which includes an Anti-Black Racism class that has a module on health inequities.

UConn’s move follows an April 8 announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling racism an “epidemic.”

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CDC director Rochelle Walensky, a former Harvard Medical School professor, said this spring, “What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans.”

 ”As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation,” Walensky said. “Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community.” 

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Connecticut and the Undergraduate Student Government for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.