The faculty and staff in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are committed to calling out and eliminating systemic racism in our department, university, community, and other networks. Our department and the greater UWSP community condemns racism, bigotry, and hatred. Events of this summer have brought to light the ongoing racism in the United States and we are prompted to examine our own implicit biases, personally and within the professions of speech-language pathology, audiology, education, and medicine. We are in agreement with the UWSP Diversity and Inclusion Statement, written by a working group of UWSP employees and endorsed by the 2019-2020 Diversity Council and Common Council. It states:
“The students, faculty, and staff of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) recognize the lived experiences, identities, and contributions of past students, faculty, staff, and community members. In recognition of this history, we commit ourselves to the ongoing work of building and championing an inclusive UWSP. We strive to dismantle bias and hate by empowering voices of the marginalized and building relationships of trust across differences. Together we aim to develop and support a community where all can safely maintain integral, personal identities, be equitable participants, and learn from one another.
Each of us has a responsibility and role in actively educating ourselves while holding one another accountable. In so doing, we cultivate a reflective, engaged culture of learning and living which supports, embraces, and celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. We are a university where all are encouraged to challenge and debate complex issues in order to sustain a campus culture that nurtures reflection, learning, holistic development, community engagement, and global citizenship.
Our goal is equitable educational opportunities. As such, UWSP encourages inclusive pedagogy and the integration of differing perspectives across disciplines. Diverse needs and perspectives must be accounted for when making institutional decisions, and in turn, immediate action must be taken to address hate, bias, and harassment.
None of this will be accomplished immediately. This process demands mindful reflection, continual commitment, and resources from the University of Wisconsin System, UWSP leaders, and each of us personally. We remain committed to the learning, development, safety, and well-being of all while working toward an inclusive community. Together, we build a better UWSP.”
The CSD faculty and staff are committed to inclusive education and to intentionally embedding content into classroom and clinical experiences that identifies systemic racism and bias within our professions, such as racial disparities in healthcare, over-referral of minority children and ESL children for special education, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Realizing that dismantling systems that reward privilege and punish minorities is challenging work, we will approach it with respect, commitment, and humility. We seek not to only give People of Color a seat at the table, but to amplify the marginalized voices of those in our immediate environment, community, and wider circles. In doing this work, even with the best intentions, we will surely make mistakes. Therefore, we endeavor to give grace to each other, learn from our missteps, and move forward in our growth and learning. As we seek justice, inclusion, and equity, we do so not only for People of Color, but for all those who are in the minority because of gender, sexuality, nationality, disability, religion, neurodiversity, and others.
It is not enough just to pledge to do these things. They must be followed with actionable steps. As an academic department, here is what we have done in the past two years:
- We were the first academic department to complete the Center for Inclusive Teaching and Learning’s (CITL) “Toward a More Inclusive Campus” four-part training. The modules were:
- Building Awareness/The Value of Diversity
- Blindspots and their Consequences
- Inclusive Interactions
- Inclusive Pedagogy
- We read and discussed the book,
Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria (and Other Conversations about Race) by Beverly Daniel Tatum, as part of an all-college read with the College of Professional Studies
- Graduate students, faculty, and staff completed a specially-designed workshop created by Lindsay Bernhagen, Director of the CITL. This workshop focused on how to respond to and diffuse racially or sexually charged comments in clinical settings.
- Many faculty and staff are on committees that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion at the college, university, and state level.
- Specific content that addressed systemic racism was embedded into graduate coursework during summer semester 2020.
- The GRE requirement was waived for students applying to the master’s program in SLP for the 2020-2021 graduate admissions cycle.
- We participated in a 2-part webinar “Addressing Racism in CSD Education” facilitated by the national Teaching and Learning in Communication Sciences and Disorders organization.
Here is what we pledge to do as we move forward:
- Remove the GRE as a requirement for admission into the graduate program, due to its known racial bias.
- Form a committee of faculty, staff, students, and alumni to lead, monitor, and evaluate our department’s progress.
- Create a form for students, alumni, clients, and community members to provide feedback and suggestions related to anti-racism initiatives.
- Create a page on our website to share our progress and provide resources to students, alumni, clients, and the community.
We know that this is just a start. The goal of the College of Professional Studies is to be “proactive, resourceful, connected, and caring” and we endeavor to model those attributes as we collectively seek to confront systemic racism, amplify marginalized people, and eradicate bigotry and hatred within our university, professions, and communities.