“I believe we are all tested” — Lee Mun Wah [link to audio], on Honorable Evolution #6 with Marcel Tassar*
OCOM began to engage with alumni, students, faculty, and staff regarding the use of the word “Oriental” at the college more than seven years ago. Throughout that process, for us as a college community, there has never been consensus on 1) use of the word “Oriental,” or 2) options for a name change that would meet the needs and preferences of most/all of the community.
How we move forward is ours to figure out as a community. We want to encourage, and believe that as a college community, we can embrace this moment to find an affirming and mutually respectful path forward. As a community we can define that path.
Also, over the same period, a national debate involving all of the more than 50 schools in our industry has been ongoing among the membership of the Council of Colleges of Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), and at National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), and the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA). Again, even after many industry-wide discussions, debates, and polls, no clear consensus on naming conventions has emerged that works for all organizations and the wider community.
While it is true that many of the most vocal and persistent calls for removing/replacing “Oriental” from our colleges' names, titles, and degrees have come from non-Asian allies. Many of the most ardent advocates for removing the term from our discourse are also Asian American students, faculty, and alumni of our professional colleges. This can be observed in the wider OCOM community online discourse and in the issue’s national debate.
It is also true and observable that a significant number of our foreign-born Asian and Asian American community members hold very different views. Some who identify as being from ethnicities and cultures originating in Asia, but who were born and grew up in the United States, also embrace the word “Oriental” as a point of cultural affinity. Some are confused by the debate and why it is occurring at all, or are upset that we are considering this change, as they view the term to mean “East,” a simple, shorthand pan-Asian descriptor that is viewed by some to be acceptable for general use.
The intent of the 2020 OCOM survey of students, faculty, alumni, and staff was primarily to reopen the discussion at the request of Asian American students and alumni. While non-Asian allies also advocated for change, their prompt was not the reason to reopen the debate. There remains a mix of perspectives on changing the name, changing the narrative.
Learning of cyberbullying of Asian-identified students advocating for use of “Oriental” in the college name prompted the President to invite all staff, faculty, and students who self-identify as being of Asian descent to a private meeting, where we hoped they could speak freely without fear of reprisal. The minority view in that meeting advocated for the removal of the term “Oriental,” although many in the group affirmed the survey results, commented on their America-born family members who encouraged the change, stating that if a change needed to happen they would find it acceptable; but primarily they were trying to understand the pressure for the change, as the associations with the word seemed so different in the U.S. than in their Asian countries of origin or from the experience of their Asian-identifying family and friends.
We are leaning into the question, “How can we as a college be responsive to multiple perspectives where feelings are so strong and seemingly in opposition?” One way OCOM can be responsive at this time is to revisit and recommit to finding ways to create safe space for in-person dialogue. This is why we are committing to seating a cross-sectional task force of stakeholders to work in tandem with outside consultation to engage in facilitated discourse on our best path forward as a college.
Reconciliation can be messy, and is not easy, and we may never all agree. As healers we believe admitting we can do this better, asking for help from others with different skills in facilitation, and re-engaging to find a better path is important to our positive movement as a community on the issue of the college name.
The courage of our students to give voice to both sides of this debate is important to acknowledge. The President approached the Board of Trustees to request the cross-sectional task force representing the diversity of opinions on the college name be established, to review the historical data and processes on campus related to this issue, and in the national debate, and make recommendations for how to move forward. That process will include inviting outside independent facilitators to our campus discussions to help assure that all who want to be heard have a safe space to express their opinions.
We will also include discussion of the college name in our next long-term strategic plan, while allowing the time we need as a community to find our path forward. We embrace the diversity of views, for our college, and seek reconciliation and a positive path forward.
We can figure this out together, as healers, and committed and caring community members. Please hold faith and keep showing up with your passion and courage....and again, in the words of Lee Mun Wah, "So you see, it is where the road ends that our path often begins.”
Thanks to a generous donation from the CHP Group, OCOM is able to offer three Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarships of $10,000 to incoming first professional (MAc, MACM, or DACM/MACM) students for the 2021-2022 academic year. CHP CEO, OCOM Board member and donor, Michell Hay, reflects on the impact of this gift, “We appreciate the quality education programs that OCOM offers, and the valuable patient care you provide in the community to carry out the mission to transform healthcare.” This gift can have a major impact on reducing barriers to enrollment for students looking to bring that mission to communities currently underserved by licensed acupuncturists.
Any student applicant who has applied for Federal Financial Aid and identifies as coming from a diverse background and intends to serve an underserved community with their future practice is encouraged to apply. The process includes completing an application and submitting an essay (two-page, double spaced maximum) answering the question, “How will an OCOM education help you to increase acupuncture and integrative medicine access in a community you hope to serve?”
The scholarship committee will review all application materials and select the recipient based on eligibility, essay grammar and writing, adherence to topic, and depth of content. Applicants will be notified of the results by mid-June 2021. The Office of Financial Aid will incorporate the scholarship into the student’s 2021-2022 financial aid award letter.
Interested students should apply by the regular decision deadline of April 30, 2021. Download the application
The profession is changing and OCOM is in the middle of the moment. Since the events of the summer of 2020, conversations at the national and local level continue to shine a renewed spotlight on social justice issues and equity. The Board of Trustees, Executive Leadership and groups of faculty and students have gathered to hear feedback from BIPOC and other students regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We launched a survey to assess community opinions on a name change for the college to replace the word “Oriental.” The results show a majority of the wider OCOM community is ready for a change, with no clear path forward on an alternative name. Choosing wisely is an opportunity for OCOM to create a shared desired future and reflect that to the wider community.
So what will it take to change a name? While focus groups and survey respondents show there are greatly differing views of the term “Oriental” ranging from positive cultural affinity to no opinion to finding it offensive, those differences are most pronounced between generations and countries of origin. Responding individuals raised in the US are most vocal about the need for a change, and it is clear that significant representation of OCOM constituents (staff, faculty, students and alumni) are deeply troubled by the College retaining a name with the term Oriental, as they view it as a racial slur; but that view is not shared by all, including many faculty and students from cultures originating in Asia. The Board of Trustees saw the survey data that show now a majority of the wider OCOM community want a name change and at the request of the president voted to approve changing the college name. Yet this commitment is just the beginning of the process.
This mindful effort at the college, a thoughtful rename/rebranding as part of a wider DEI focus, will unfold as part of the next five-year strategic plan, which we anticipate to take six months or longer to develop and implement. Plan development will include new rounds of surveys and focus groups with the community to narrow and ultimately choose a new name and branding path for the college. Changes of this scale take time to fully implement, but the direction is clear, that we as a profession need to be grounded in different terminology, which is a direct response to needs expressed by Asian American students, alumni, faculty, and allies.
July 22, 2020
|December 2020 to present||
|August 2020 to present||
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OCOM Library is delighted to announce the launch of the Kam Wah Chung Medical Archive. This historical digital archive is the result of the 2019-2020 project, Kam Wah Chung: A Historical Archive of Chinese Medicine in Rural Oregon, which is a collaboration between OCOM and the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. The project was supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA Grant), administered by the State Library of Oregon.
The Kam Wah Chung Medical Archive captures a unique snapshot of Chinese medicine’s earliest practice in rural Oregon. In the late 1800s, two Chinese immigrants, Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On, purchased the Kam Wah Chung building in the mining community of John Day, Oregon, where the two operated a Chinese apothecary and a general store until Hay’s death in 1952. The museum is well known for its treasure trove of artifacts detailing the Chinese immigrant experience in the American West. The Kam Wah Chung Medical Archive focuses on medical objects that are found in the museum collection. The digital archive provides digitized images and descriptions of Chinese medical herbs, Doc Hay's handwritten formula prescriptions, Chinese patent medicine products, and books and pharmacy catalogs from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Translation has been done over the years by OCOM students and faculty, and is ongoing.
The Kam Wah Chung Medical Archive, now available to the public, is an excellent resource to those concerned with Oregon history, the Chinese immigrant experience in the American West, or traditional Chinese medicine and herbal practice. The Archive can be accessed at: kwc.ocom.edu
For any questions about the Kam Wah Chung Medical Archive, contact the OCOM Library / Oregon College of Oriental Medicine at: library.ocom.edu/contact-us/
You’ve come a long way, but there’s still a few more steps until you’re ready to start your practice and begin helping patients. This can be an arduous process, so KPC Herbs made this guide to help take out most of the guesswork when it comes to getting the right herbs you need for your patients.
Student Kit for Graduates - DOWNLOAD
The transition from being an acupuncture student to being a professional acupuncturist means learning to do many things for yourself on a smaller scale and from a different perspective. While prescribing herbal medicine is a key part of any professional training program, the back-end management of inventory, quality control, pricing, and dispensing may not have been an explicit part of your education. This workbook is a step-by-step guide with useful tips, links to templates, and recommendations built from the real experience of new entrepreneurs. The workbook is designed to be viewed digitally, with hyperlinks to templates of key resources. Or you can print it off and fill it in with pen and ink. We encourage you to use this guide in a way that works best for you.
Setting Up Your Granular Pharmacy - DOWNLOAD
These resources brought to you thanks to the generous support of KPC Herbs
In this new world of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that as medical professionals and as students working to become medical professionals, we re-enter our school and workplace under a social contract to protect the health of our community. Our priority is to keep people safe. We will rely on the information provided to us from the OHA, CDC, and other reputable sources for guidance in this changing world.
To keep our community safe, OCOM will have important social and professional expectations of its faculty, staff, and students — on and off campus. This is essentially the social contract that all are expected to follow to provide the best care for our patients, education for our students, and a safe environment for us all.
We ask that students, faculty, staff, and visitors follow these guidelines:
As one of the oldest colleges in America teaching the healing arts of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, tuina, shiatsu, cupping, gua sha, hara diagnosis, and other techniques, our college was also founded in an era when the term “Oriental medicine” was commonly used to describe what many now call East Asian Medicine. For OCOM, the medicine we teach is based on the Chinese classics and also informed by years of development in other Asian countries and influenced by other Asian cultures including but not limited to Korean, Japanese, Tibetan and Vietnamese.
In recent years, our profession in America has struggled with naming conventions for some of our older accredited colleges and programs, and for our professional organizations that also have the term “Oriental” in their names. On the OCOM campus, there was a workgroup convened in 2013 to look at the use of such terminology. While outcomes from that group recommended that our print, publications, web presence, and communications style guide encourage the phrase “Chinese medicine” for describing what we teach, there was no agreement on the use of the term overall and the name of the college was not changed.
In 2015, the OCOM Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved a survey of students and professionals on the attitudes toward the term “Oriental” as a descriptor of the profession and the medicine. In 2016, the results were presented at a student research conference.
Also in 2016, a bill was passed and signed into law by President Obama that removed the term “Oriental” from all federal use. This bill stimulated further national debate in our professional organizations and colleges and, over time, several accredited schools have made significant changes to their names to remove the term.
In 2018, a presentation of the 2016 campus survey results was given to the President’s direct reports. In part because of the historical lack of consensus on campus and that attitudes toward the term continued to evolve, another campus survey was ordered.
The 2018 administration-driven OCOM survey on the use of “Oriental” in the OCOM name was conducted; and the results were presented later that year to the Program Committee of the college’s Board of Trustees. During that meeting, summaries of results from both the 2016 and the 2018 surveys were discussed with board members.
Opinions on a college name change and on maintaining the term “Oriental” continued to vary greatly. The committee discussed gathering additional input, and began to assess the cost and possible paths to implementing a change to the name. No clear options emerged and no recommendation was made to the full board. The issue of changing the institution’s name was put on hold pending further input, with a recommended pivot to use limited resources for new program development and implementation.
However, out of the work in 2018, a decision for another incremental step was made: to update the titles for the college’s new programs, eliminating the term “Oriental” from degree titles except for the DAOM. The new degree titles for first professional degrees, as approved by the Board of Trustees and presented to our accreditor for approval in 2018, are DACM, MACM, and MAc.
Further, the term “Chinese medicine” is still preferred in OCOM official communications and publications. College administrators, staff, and some students have continued to raise the issue of and concern over the use and public perception of the term “Oriental” in the college name. These concerns were discussed with student leaders in a June 15, 2020 meeting and by the President with the full Board of Trustees on June 25, 2020.
Throughout these many conversations, no consensus over what should replace the name has emerged, but unease with the term “Oriental” among the OCOM community has been persistent. With support from the Board of Trustees, our current President is revisiting the college naming convention. As part of that effort, we are asking our internal audiences (students, faculty, staff, alumni) to weigh in. Information gleaned will be presented to the trustees for further consideration.