COMD Multi-Year Antiracist Action Plan
The following 20-item action plan was created in Spring 2021 with input and feedback from consultants from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in the field with recent experience in LSU COMD. The development process was supported by department funds and an award from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Strategic Excellence Fund in order to compensate consultants for their time. The plan was subsequently circulated to all COMD faculty, staff, and students for feedback. This action plan is intended to be a multiyear roadmap as well as a living document, as COMD evolves in this work. Progress will be reported annually at the end of the academic year and documented on this webpage. Feedback is welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multi-Year Action Plan
1. Continue holistic admissions procedures, which take into consideration the entirety of applicants' attributes and experiences in considering the value they would contribute to the department and the field, in addition to purely academic metrics.
2. Continue to nominate all eligible students for LSU’s Graduate School Tuition Awards (MA; preference is given to African Americans and citizens of Latin American countries) and Huel D. Perkins Fellowships (PhD; intended to increase the numbers of historically underrepresented groups in graduate schools).
Faculty/Instructor Recruitment & Education
3. Actively seek to recruit clinical and research faculty from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. Continue to require all faculty recruitment and hires for tenure-track positions be subject to formal, advertised searches using proactive recruitment strategies targeted to increase diversity of the existing faculty, as recommended by the LSU Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) and in conformity with the LSU Search Committee Guidebook.
4. Require all clinical and graduate faculty to annually complete ≥ 3 trainings/workshops/courses (≥ 3 hours total) with a specific focus on DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion). The annual departmental training by the LSU Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion may count for one of these. At least one should be related to teaching or clinical supervision. At least one must be a continuing education course (≥ 1 hour) for professionals in the field (e.g., certain ASHA SIG 14 or SIG 17 events, ASHA/NBASLH/CAPCSD trainings). Other campus or local options may include the LSU SafeSpace training and Baton Rouge’s Dialogue on Race Series.
5. Require all instructional faculty who teach or supervise students (including PhD students who teach) to participate in training on culturally responsive teaching/supervision and/or antiracist pedagogy. (For PhD students, this requirement may be fulfilled by classes within the PhD curriculum.) This requirement will also incorporate implicit bias training specifically targeting communication styles – including tone of voice, gestures, dialect, and the art of code-switching – to address expectations/judgments about how “articulate” or “professional” students are perceived as being.
6. Strategically partner with local HBCUs (e.g., Southern University and A&M College, Xavier University of Louisiana) to establish mutually-beneficial, non-competitive relationships focused on recruiting Black students and students of color to the fields of SLP&A. This will entail organizing and/or participating in activities in local public and Title I-eligible middle schools and high schools, community colleges, churches, and LSU's multicultural student organizations to increase awareness of the fields of SLP&A, the diverse populations/conditions we work with, and educational requirements for licensure/certification (with a specific focus on recruiting Black students from Baton Rouge), as well as incorporating joint advertising of our postbaccalaureate programs to related majors and service clubs/organizations at “Minority Serving Institutions” (HBCUs, HSIs, PBIs, TCUs, AAPISIs). Plan to expand to local tribal communities following establishment of Baton Rouge program.
7. Emphasize the inherent value of diversity to speech-language pathology, departmental commitment to supporting students from diverse backgrounds, multicultural campus resources, and availability of merit-based Graduate Student Tuition Awards (created to increase cultural and ethnic diversity of graduate students at LSU) during COMD's MA open house (similarly, emphasize available resources at MA orientation); provide handouts and/or follow-up email with relevant links.
Student Inclusion & Retention
8. Create NSSLHA Student DEI Officer role to help incorporate consideration of these issues into all NSSLHA meetings and activities, and to emphasize how these concepts relate to the work students do as pre-professionals and will do as professionals in CSD. As it can be difficult to fill all the NSSLHA roles, consider renaming an existing role or incorporating this into one (e.g., Professional Development Chair). This officer will also ensure ≥ 1 NSSLHA meeting per semester includes a presentation/discussion has a specific focus on diversity and muticulturalism in SLP&A.
9. Add questions to all student exit surveys (BA, MA, PhD) to solicit self-reported experiences of inclusion, exclusion, and discrimination in COMD; also address this explicitly in employee exit interviews. Add questions to MA student exit surveys to assess self-reported preparation to provide services to clients from diverse backgrounds (consider also adding MA student entrance survey to assess preparation from undergraduate curricula and measure skill development in the MA program).
Student Elevation & Broader Connections
10. Establish relationship with local HBCU (Southern University and A&M College) to explore opportunities to share resources, partner in research/publishing, give talks in each other’s departments, and provide mentoring in CSD. This can also help connect MA students with local SLPs who may be able to serve more effectively as mentors and allies (e.g., connecting Black students with Black SLPs) until COMD is able to achieve faculty representation commensurate with its student body).
11. Nominate ≥ 2 BIPOC students (including ≥ 1 Black student) annually for the ASHA Minority Student Leadership Program. Pay NSSLHA membership dues if financial considerations are a barrier. Note: the traditional MSLP will not take place in 2021. Instead, the MSLP will host a series of virtual student leadership development opportunities, which are available at this link. No application process is necessary to participate in this year's virtual student leadership development activities, and we encourage all who are eligible to participate (undergraduate seniors, MA, and AuD/PhD students enrolled in a communication sciences and disorders programs in Fall 2021).
12. Offer funding for interested Black/African American students to present at (or attend, even if not presenting) the NBASLH Annual Convention, in addition to providing support/nominations for available awards. When possible, extend funding for attendance at the Annual NBASLH Convention to all interested COMD students regardless of racial/ethnic background.
13. Require MA students to take a stand-alone course that addresses multicultural and multilinguistic considerations in SLP as well as systemic disparities in healthcare/education, their historical causes, and the ways in which these systems are perpetuated.
14. Add a required full-semester course for PhD students on culturally responsive teaching and research. Until this course is developed, incorporate required classes (1 hour each) into the PhD Professional Development program on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching and research (3-4 classes annually prior to dissertation stage).
15. Review all LSU clinic diagnostic, treatment, and AAC materials with a focus on increasing diverse representations and eliminating any stereotyped/biased depictions.
16. Expand off-site clinical opportunities for COMD students by developing new relationships with local schools (and related nonprofit organizations) largely serving Black students, opening a new off-site clinic location more accessible to clients residing in North Baton Rouge and/or relying on public transportation, and/or coordinating screening at sites in North Baton Rouge (consult with Southern University to ensure there is no competition).
17. Enact full blinding for clinic assignments (i.e., randomized assignments considering only student requests/preferences, schedules and required clinical hours/competencies).
Ongoing Program Assessment
18. Develop anonymous mechanism within COMD for reporting discrimination, microaggressions, and other negative experiences, as well as transparent documentation of departmental response. Additionally, continue to distribute climate survey each semester as an alternate means for students to anonymously share experiences about which they may feel unsure or not want to report formally (as well as to assess knowledge/beliefs, experiences of inclusion/exclusion, and perspectives on departmental curriculum/policies of all COMD students, faculty, and staff).
19. Develop Alumni Advisory Board to support proactive, ongoing commitment and hold COMD accountable.
20. Add role of monitoring faculty completion of diversity-focused actions to COMD Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, and add DEI section to faculty's annual reports/reviews.