Diversity and Inclusion in CSD

The CSD department is committed to promoting an inclusive environment that is inviting and supportive to all prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, staff and those in the greater community that we serve, including our patients and clients. We recognize that we are improved by diversity of thought, perspective and experience. We affirm that the lives and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color matter. We acknowledge that within the clinical practice and study of speech, language, hearing and communication there are deep-rooted and systemic inequalities, racism, sexism, and ableism that disproportionately advantage some members of our community while underrepresenting others. We strive to rectify these inequities and promote access. Here in the JMU CSD department, we embrace all backgrounds, identities, and abilities.

Strategic Pre-Planning to Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The CSD Department has several previous initiatives, starting in 2005, in support of enhancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the department. The document to follow constitutes a significant revision in previous documents, seeking to be an active guide that maintains DEI as a priority for the department.

Initiatives within CSD are nested within the context of the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the University as a whole. The CHBS goals related to DEI is: (currently in draft form)

CHBS will work to identify and dismantle oppressive racist and discriminatory policies, practices, and processes moving the college into inclusive excellence. This starts with critical self and academic unit evaluations to identify and set measurable objectives to promote a CHBS culture in which every member can flourish.

Inclusive excellence is defined as –
A comprehensive, systematic action focused process that increases equity-based opportunities and holds the college accountable for positive change. This will mean two initial objectives:

  • An active, intentional, ongoing process to build community well-being and belonging of all members; and  
  • Promotion of fair treatment & equal access to college benefits noticing and dismantling processes that have served as barriers for underrepresented college members

The University Strategic Plan outlines Access, Inclusion and Diversity as a core quality stating,

We embrace access, inclusivity and diversity because they are the foundational cornerstones of equitable experiences leading to an outstanding education and environment for students, faculty and staff.

Reflecting upon these strategic statements, and the guidance provided by the American, Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ position statement for DEI is:

The CSD department is committed to promoting an inclusive environment that is inviting and supportive to all prospective students, current students, alumni, faculty, staff and those in the greater community that we serve, including our patients and clients. We recognize that we are improved by diversity of thought, perspective and experience. We affirm that the lives and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color matter. We acknowledge that within the clinical practice and study of speech, language, hearing and communication there are deep-rooted and systemic inequalities, racism, sexism, and ableism that disproportionately advantage some members of our community while underrepresenting others. We strive to rectify these inequities and promote access. Here in the JMU CSD department, we embrace all backgrounds, identities, and abilities.

Actionable and Measurable objectives for this “pre-plan”, paralleling CHBS targeted actions, include the following: (the below actions are preliminary steps and are expected to require 9-24 months to achieve the target. Note that some objectives have pending actions that will be developed).

  1. Increasing faculty/staff development in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion to increase sensitivity and reduce macro/micro-aggressions experienced by underrepresented faculty, staff and students.
    1. Action: To achieve a baseline, faculty and staff will track relevant development activities and report these efforts in their annual reports. (Target May 2021)
    2. Action: Offer seminars on DEI for students and encourage participation in JMU diversity conference. (Target AY 2021-22)

  2. Prioritize recruiting and retaining underrepresented students across all programs with intentional methods that may include engagement with admissions and “growing your own”. We consider critical diversity (Henderson & Herring, 2013) to be key to reaching this objective.
    1. Determine plans to attract and retain BIPOC, males, first generation, LGBTQ, and multi-lingual speakers into the communication sciences and disorders professions.
      Actions:
      - Graduate programs will revise graduate admissions by developing a defined rubric for holistic application reviews. (Target May 2022)
      - Evaluate and devise plans to characterize the undergraduate CSD student diversity to inform further recruitment and retention efforts. (Target January 2022)
    2. Develop and disseminate information and resources to academic programs that may facilitate increasing graduate student enrollment capacity.
      - Action: Identify the key barriers for prospective CSD students pursuing the major and challenges for declared CSD students with regards to retention and long-term success.
      May 2022
  1. Creating inclusive curriculums, starting with curriculum evaluations and considering inclusive pedagogy [ways of teaching] and “decentralizing the embedded white cannons” 
    1. Action: pending

  2. Foster community engagement with equity in mind bringing underrepresented groups to the table of decision making and planning.
    1. Training undergraduate students on enhancing DEI in current community engagement programs and for future outreach efforts. Action: Students in the Clinical Methods courses (CSD 470/471) will complete at least one learning activity (Target May 2022).

  3. Promote, conduct, and disseminate research that focuses on diversity/inclusivity and/or that includes a diverse and underrepresented participant population. Our own faculty can work to recruit and include a broader, more diverse participant sample.
    1. Action: pending.