Campus Health Officials Call for 'Cultural Competency'

February 24, 2011

The American College Health Association reinforced the importance of constantly developing cultural awareness and sensitivity among campus professionals, with the goal of having members be “responsive to the needs of a diverse and changing student population,” in a statement released Wednesday.

The Cultural Competency Statement -- in its first revision since its initial publication in July 2000 -- compels ACHA members to cultural inclusion, cultural respect, equality and equity, and includes a number of criteria that demonstrate cultural competency for individuals, institutions and the association. Vanessa Britto, chair of the revision task force, told Inside Higher Ed that given the shifts in student demographics, international enrollment and experiential learning, the ACHA felt it was time to update and clarify the statement. “It’s just a much, much more diverse and complex world that we live in,” she said. “You can’t have [the statement] be static; it has to be dynamic.” So the task force cleaned up the document, clarifying actions and definitions, removing outdated items and adding ones that arose during the last decade.

It states that culturally competent individuals “have a mixture of beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, experience, and skills that help them to establish trust and rapport in effective communication with others.” ACHA member institutions, the statement says, “should commit to the cultural competency of campus health professionals by implementing, strengthening, and supporting a variety of activities” that promote diversity and inclusivity throughout the campus. Finally, the association charges itself with promoting cultural competency through programming, individual leadership, advocacy and collaboration with other organizations.

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