Posted June 23, 2021
We fully support the dismantling of systemic and institutional racism that has led to the historical and ongoing violence and psychological harm to the Black, Indigenous, LatinX, Asian, LGBTQ+, disabled, and other vulnerable communities. We acknowledge the Eurocentric perspectives upheld in the occupational therapy profession in the United States, a field that is predominantly white.
We are committed as a department to doing the work of listening, examining, and transforming our own systems through the lens of anti-racism and cultural humility. Our commitment to anti-racist principles and actions has resulted in the creation of the Department of Occupational Therapy Anti-Racism Taskforce. Based on the results of a needs survey, the Taskforce created working groups consisting of faculty, students, and alumni to target changes to our admission practices, student experiences, and educational curriculum to move toward a holistic educational program.
Over the past year, to increase holistic admissions, we have made recommendations for changes to our admissions criteria, which are currently being reviewed, and participated in outreach activities to promote occupational therapy as a career for students from marginalized communities (four high schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties; the NYU Career lab). Student-driven initiatives included the creation of a COTAD (Coalition of Occupational Therapist Advocates for Diversity) chapter at NYU, and recommendations for changes to the departmental website and social media to increase access to student resources, student voices, and lived experiences. We received a grant from the NYU Office of Global Inclusion to implement a pilot mentoring program starting in Fall 2021. The program will facilitate leadership skills and professional collaboration for students or recent graduates from marginalized groups to maximize success and retention in the field. To increase inclusion in our curriculum, we have developed a reflection tool for faculty use when developing and updating course content.
As we look toward the next academic year, our aim is to continually center historically underrepresented voices and perspectives in our syllabi, class materials, and learning opportunities outside of class. We are actively seeking to increase the leadership and representation of marginalized students and faculty.
We seek to go beyond inclusivity and diversity and commit to equity, achieve fair representation, and be anti-racist. The fight continues with understanding, community, and love.