Posted March 30, 2021
The Committee for Belonging, Justice, and Social Change continues to work with the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) on several areas of change and would like to update you on our progress.
New Changes and Initiatives Since August 2020:
- Diversity in invited speakers. In our departmental Research Colloquium, our Professionals in CSD Speaker Series, and our Bridges to Learning Panel Series, we have focused on amplifying BILAPOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and People of Color) voices. For example, 10 of 11 of our invited Research Colloquium speakers this academic year have been BILAPOC scholars. For the Bridges to Learning series, the Clinical Field Placement Team has been collaborating with the BLLING and LGBTQ+ Clinical Club student groups to come up with topics and panelists. These activities are part of our mission to listen to and learn from the full spectrum of perspectives held by those in our field.
- Departmental reading group. Last summer, we had our first reading group meeting in which faculty and staff read White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. This spring, on April 22, 12 p.m.–1 p.m., we will have our second event for our entire department community including not only faculty and staff but also students and alumni. We’ll discuss readings and other media by BILAPOC scholars related to topics under the broad umbrella of healing.
- Student Progress and Awards Committee. In response to MS student concerns and our own self-reflection and self-evaluation, the MS committee for Student Progress and Awards has revised the description of its role to include a stronger focus on promoting student success. The committee is also working on multiple ways to raise students' awareness of current University-, School-, and Department-level resources that could increase the likelihood of student success and foster community and belonging.
- Anti-racism, culturally responsive practices, social justice content in the MS curriculum. Currently under review by New York State is our proposal for a revised MS curriculum, which includes a sequence of two courses: Culturally Responsive Practices in CSD I and II. Once the curriculum is approved (the timeline for this is TBD), these two courses will be required of all students in the graduate program. These two courses will center this content in our curriculum. Using an intersectional lens, they will incorporate historical, contemporary, and interprofessional perspectives of oppression in global, health, and educational contexts. The courses will also invite opportunities for self-reflection of internalized and implicit biases and practice with liberatory, culturally sustaining intervention approaches.
- Field placement supervisor training. The Clinical Field Placement Team hosted a CEU event for field placement supervisors called “The Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Clinical Supervisor,” and has ongoing plans to create continuing education events and resources for field placement supervisors on best practices in supervision.
- MS Guide review. We have been reviewing our guides and other written materials to evaluate how we talk about preparedness for professional practice versus “professionalism.” “Professionalism” is often used in a problematic way that privileges whiteness and discriminates against non-white standards, and the purpose of our review is to ensure that we are not using the term in this way. This has included consultation with Steinhardt’s Experiential Learning Group, which includes other departments that require clinical training for professional licensure within Steinhardt.
- Inclusive Teaching Seminar. Many of our department faculty have participated in NYU’s Inclusive Teaching Seminar, an intensive program through the Office of Global Inclusion, offering training in inclusive teaching principles and practices, and we have been incorporating these ideas into our courses.
- Inclusive Teaching Open Forum. We established an open meeting to which all instructors are invited to share ideas about how to improve the inclusiveness of our teaching. The goal of this initiative is for instructors to learn from each other about best practices, and to discuss successes and challenges in implementing changes in courses.
We hope you will use our anonymous survey or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to offer more information and feedback as we continue to build a community that is committed to belonging, justice, and social change for our department, our university, and the field of CSD. Your responses will be shared with our Committee for Belonging, Justice, and Social Change, and will help us identify areas where we can work to promote equitable and inclusive policies and procedures.
As always, if you need immediate support with a concern that is specific to a particular class or a particular interaction, please reach out to your instructor, the program director (UG: Dr. Sudha Arunachalam, email@example.com; MS: Dr. Kelly Bridges, firstname.lastname@example.org; PhD: Dr. Adam Buchwald, email@example.com), department chair (Dr. Maria Grigos, firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Dean of Students (email@example.com), or the NYU Bias Response Line. Please note that this Committee does not have the authority to launch inquiries into specific issues. If a submission about such an issue is received, the Committee will forward the issue to the appropriate person within the department.
Posted August 26, 2020
In response to the most recent events and global protests focused on racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the impactful student listening session entitled Voices for Change held on Juneteenth, the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at New York University has established the Committee for Belonging, Justice, and Social Change (Chair: Dr. Sudha Arunachalam). At this time, this Committee consists of department faculty, administrators, and staff. As we move into the academic year, we will be inviting students and alumni to join us as we institute changes across all programs in our department, and we will continue to solicit your feedback and advice.
The Committee has been working with the department on several concrete steps that were directly suggested or inspired by our students, alumni, and larger community. We list below changes that have already been established, those that are in progress, and some of our future plans.
- Department feedback portal. In order to hear your concerns and to allow the committee to set an agenda for systemic changes in the department, we have created an anonymous survey and a (non-anonymous) email address (CSDfirstname.lastname@example.org) where you can submit feedback and concerns related to your experiences in the department. Submissions are being read by the Committee for Belonging, Justice, and Social Change.
- Foundation course waivers. Based on the feedback we received from the listening session about how certain department policies disproportionately impact students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), our department has changed the criteria and processes for determining which Foundation courses an incoming MS student needs to take, effective September 2, 2020. The changes will result in some students needing to take fewer courses.
- Continued learning. Faculty, staff, and adjunct instructors have been invited to participate in our department book club – the first of its kind. This book club will be dedicated to reading and engaging in discussion about what racism and anti-racism look like in our department. This July, we read White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Feel free to suggest books or materials to us via our email at CSDemail@example.com.
- Faculty Mentorship. Similar to their peers in the undergraduate and PhD programs, students in our MS program will have a faculty mentor in addition to their academic advisor. This initiative is in response to our students expressing their need for more support within our program. This mentorship initiative will go into effect in Fall 2020 and we look forward to feedback from our students as we continue to refine it.
Steps in Progress:
- Multiculturalism, anti-racism, social justice content in the curriculum. The department faculty are actively reworking the content of the MS course that is currently named “Multicultural Issues in Communicative Sciences and Disorders.” Moreover, we are discussing how content on cultural responsiveness will be integrated throughout the rest of the curriculum in all of our department’s programs. Some of these curricular changes must go through several levels of approval, including at the State level, so while some changes are immediate, others will be implemented once they are fully approved.
- Professional practice survey. Based on student feedback about how definitions of “professionalism” have negatively impacted BIPOC students, we are engaged in discussions about what it means to be a professional in our field. To begin, we recently reached out to students, alumni, faculty, and administrators with a survey to gain feedback related to how professional practice is described in the practicum sequence, the department, and the field of speech-language pathology more broadly. We will also solicit more intensive participation from students and alumni who have expressed specific interest in this issue.
- Policy review. We are currently reviewing academic and administrative policies across all stages of the student life-cycle at all degree levels (UG, MS, PhD) to ensure that we are best positioned to support, and learn from, our students. We are looking at all aspects of the programs, including academic and clinical (in-house clinic and field placement) experiences.
- Departmental trainings through the Office of Global Inclusion. We are also working to organize trainings for faculty, staff, and students through NYU’s Office of Global Inclusion that address antiracism and justice.
Future Steps Include:
- The GRE. We are advocating for elimination of the GRE requirement. This requirement is stipulated by the State. Our department is therefore working with Steinhardt leadership to identify next steps for advocacy at the State level.
- Recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff. We are in the process of examining several tactics to recruit and retain more BIPOC students into our department at all levels. Please send us your ideas as well at CSDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- Increase flexibility and accessibility in our programs. With your stories and experiences in mind, we are reviewing policies and curricula to identify places where we can increase options for students.
- Continually positioning ourselves to be better listeners and better supporters of our community members, particularly those from groups that have been historically marginalized in our country and in our field.
We sincerely thank our students and community members for speaking up and sharing their experiences with us – experiences that continue to inspire needed changes in our department. Again, please feel free to use our anonymous survey to offer more information and feedback that we can consider as we seek to build a community that is committed to belonging, justice, and social change for every community member.