July 10, 2020
Dear Speech-Language-Hearing Science Students,
Over the last few months we have watched the growing protests across the country and the world as a result of deep anger, disgust and sadness over the deaths of black lives that include George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rashard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others. As a department we unequivocally stand behind the Black Lives Matter movement. As professionals who value communication, we must work to develop our voices to speak out and take action against the systemic racism that has been rooted in our society for centuries. Similarly, we must hone our listening skills that are equally as crucial in the communication process. Deeply listening to those who suffer the injustices that have caused deep pain, fear and suffering from acts of racism is essential to move forward. To this end, I want you to know we are working to develop a department statement and action plan that addresses dismantling white supremacy practices while elevating and supporting our black and brown students and colleagues, as well as all in our community who are marginalized due to the ongoing practices of racism and discrimination. I would like to share some of my own thoughts and also how the department is currently working to solidify anti-racist ideas and, most importantly, put into practice in our undergraduate and graduate programs.
I write to you today as your incoming Department Chair, both acknowledging the current climate and also voicing my commitment to developing substantive actions to dismantle the white supremacy culture. With your help and the collective voices of the SLHS community we will generate an action plan that addresses faculty and student training, curricular changes, and larger awareness of how our actions and words contribute to the pain and oppression of all marginalized groups. To this end, I invite you to be part of a student advisory panel to provide input on how to best conduct this work. If you feel inclined to participate, please submit your name to Emilie Aguilar firstname.lastname@example.org stating your interest in being a part of an anti-racist advisory group and let her know if you are an alumnus, graduate, or undergraduate student and your graduating year.
I also want to report that work is underway both at the university and department levels. The Office of Equity and Inclusion, in collaboration with other offices in the university, are actively developing a response and plan to address recent alumni and students concerns. Most recently, the office has been providing a lunchtime series entitled, Voices on Equity. Several members of our SLHS faculty as well as current graduate students attend the webinars. Fr. Tim Brown recently conducted a book discussion about Ibram Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist and several SLHS faculty participated. The Counseling Center also has ongoing support to discuss the impact of racial injustice. This and more information can be found on the University’s Equity and Inclusion website.
Our graduate program, which runs through the summer, has been actively engaged in listening, discernment, and curricular planning. In addition, there are on-going conversations with the Program Director, Dr. Janet Preis, who has been seeking student, alumni, and faculty input while also providing a safe space to share thoughts and ideas. Weekly faculty/student meetings have been available for those interested and conversation has been rich and honest. Graduate students have also initiated a chapter of the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing under the guidance of Dr. Lena Caesar. The current graduate class of 2021 are thoughtfully developing their own statement of commitment to anti-racism, including action items for the program. The graduate director team is also in conversation and consultation with other constituents in the University, including mentorship from the Office of Equity and Inclusion and verifying and strengthening recruitment practices of underrepresented students with the Office of Graduate Admission. Dr. Preis, Dr. Roos (incoming Undergraduate Program Director), and I have also been in discussion and we are drafting a solidarity statement and subsequent actions for the Department of Speech-Language Hearing Sciences. With input from SLHS faculty, students and alumni, we will finalize the statement and make it widely available, publish it on our website, and then hold each other accountable for what we pledge. It is most important to the leadership team (and all members of our department) that the statements we produce are not merely hollow phrases but are a statement of commitment and transparency to which we will hold ourselves accountable.
As you know, action and reflection are integral to Jesuit education. At this moment we have the opportunity and obligation to thoughtfully reflect on where we individually stand with regard to antiracism, white supremacy, and the lives and experiences of our fellow students and faculty members. My hope is we take some time to discern what our roles are as future professionals and citizens in a global world as well as our Loyola community. I so value our student body and see the goodness in each of you. Collectively, we can be the change our world so desperately needs. Please feel free to reach out to me if desired. I am available and am most responsive to my e-mail email@example.com
Marie Kerins, Ed.D., CCC-SLP
Professor and Chair, Department of Speech-Language Hearing Sciences