Striving for Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism
The University of Minnesota’s Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences is committed to eliminating systemic racism, both locally and worldwide. Our department, along with the entire University of Minnesota, condemns racism, bigotry, and hatred. The killing of George Floyd, a member of our Minnesota community, has laid bare the long-standing racism in our society to those who weren’t already experiencing it on a daily basis themselves. It prompts us to affirm and build upon our commitment to ensure meaningful change within our classrooms, department, college, university, communities, professions, and nation. We pledge to do our part in a collective effort to eradicate racism, bigotry, and hatred of all kinds.
Lack of acknowledgment of systemic racism has resulted in many individuals in our department unfairly benefitting at the cost of the trauma and suffering of racialized and minoritized people, including Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color. This must stop immediately.
Communication is the essence of human connection, and everyone has an equal right to that connection. Among our many missions, we are a department that educates audiologists and speech-language pathologists to serve all people in educational and clinical settings. Core to our mission is educating individuals to provide equitable services across all racialized and minoritized communities and providing equitable services in our department’s clinic. This ideal extends to our undergraduate and doctoral programs, where our mission guides us to be inclusive in the study of the science of human communication. Achieving this ideal is made difficult by the extreme homogeneity in our professions, in which greater than 90% of people are white and female.
Dismantling systems that are centuries old will take hard work, unwavering commitment, and humility. Most of all, we strive for continuous improvement. We pledge to cede the floor to Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color, and to listen to those voices, and to the centuries of accumulated wisdom in those communities. We express our gratitude for the many voices that brought these issues of racism to the fore, including the leaders of Black Lives Matter.
We will make changes. With those, we will surely make mistakes. When we make mistakes, we pledge to learn from them, and not stop striving for ideals of justice and inclusion. Our commitment to equity for all minoritized communities is broad, and also includes considerations of gender, sexuality, nationality, ability, and neurodiversity, among others.
While we are committed to long-term actions, there is clearly a need right now for immediate changes. These are some of the immediate actions to which we are committed:
We have established a department Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism Committee who will meet monthly to lead our department’s actions.
We have created an open forum for students, alumni, and community members to anonymously share their feedback, provide suggestions, and make calls for action to our department.
We are creating a page on our department’s website to share our progress and provide resources to our students, alumni, and community members to lead and participate in anti-racism and anti-hatred efforts.
We will no longer require or consider GRE scores as part of our graduate application materials due to the racial, ethnic, and cultural biases inherent in standardized testing.
We will strive for full participation among faculty members in existing programs to ensure academic success of students of color, including the MSROP program and the TRIO McNair Program. We will develop programs within the department to support our own undergraduate students of color.
The Department will pay University application fees for individuals who are Black, Indigeneous, or People of Color who apply to our Au.D. in Audiology program, M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology program, or Ph.D. program.
We will continue to nominate our incoming professional and Ph.D. students for the Provost’s Professional Educational Diversity Fellowship (https://provost.umn.edu/provosts-professional-education-diversity-fellowship-2020-2021) and the Diversity of Views & Experience Fellowship (DOVE; https://grad.umn.edu/funding/program-requests-nominations/nominations/diversity-of-views-experience-fellowship-dove), respectively.
We know that these changes and commitments represent only the very beginning. Our department is committed to consistent long-term actions. We are in solidarity with all Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color, as well as others who have been marginalized for far too long. We commit to doing the work to dismantle and eradicate racism, bigotry, and hatred of all kinds.