The School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at McGill University is committed to eliminating racism. The recent killing of George Floyd forces upon all of us the responsibility for deep reflection on anti-black racism in our society. It is imperative that we stop discrimination against all under-represented groups in Canada, in our university, and in our school. We affirm our values of compassion, inclusiveness, respect and collaboration. We commit to reifying these values through individual and collective action, identifying and correcting inequities each day.
Our commitment begins with acknowledgement. We hear with humility voices from our school community. We apologize for those actions that marginalized or tokenized students and instructors. We pledge to do better. We know that this commitment requires processes for continuous improvement and concrete action for sustained change.
The school, involving all members of our community across all our programs, can initiate some changes immediately. These commitments are as follows:
Collaboration. Create a joint student-faculty Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, to be associated with the Learning Environment Committee.
Communication. Provide monthly reports on anti-racism and pro-equity initiatives including concrete indicators of progress in the Faculty Meeting minutes, associated with the Learning Environment report (these are available for all members of the school community to read and are a permanent record of our activities).
Support and redress. Create a webpage linking to resources for McGill students and staff that are related to racism, discrimination, equity and diversity.
Commitment. Require SCSD students and staff to affirm and re-affirm their commitment to anti-racism and to equity once per academic year, after (re)visiting the relevant policies and educational materials.
Education for students. Curriculum committee will encourage instructors to incorporate the Collaboration competencies “Recognize and adapt to all aspects of client diversity” and “Demonstrate respect for the client’s rights, dignity, uniqueness, and equal opportunity” across the applied curriculum.
Education for faculty. Education on cultural competency will be made available to faculty through the Social Accountability and Communication Office and internally during SCSD professional development events.
Recruitment. Add information to our webpages for prospective students that describes our processes for ensuring equitable recruitment and admission of diverse students to our applied and research programs.
Accessibility. For all SCSD activities and events, whether in the school or off-site, work toward the goal of full accessibility by diverse persons.
Teaching materials. New materials used for teaching in the classroom or in the clinic will be selected for sensitivity to the risk for bias.
Continuous improvement. During the 2020-2021 exercise to create a new five-year strategic plan, develop a detailed and concrete plan for sustainable change in the learning environment of the school especially focused on systemic racism and inclusion.
These actions are those that can be undertaken by the school independently or in collaboration with the university. Many members of the school community also belong to professional bodies and regulatory agencies that influence the profession of speech-language pathology. Speech-language pathologists are overwhelmingly white and our demographics are poorly matched to those of our clientele. Within these structures we must make it our mission to change the face of our profession and ensure equitable provision of services to those who have communication and swallowing needs.
Racism and discrimination are embedded in academia, education, health-care, and speech-language pathology. Our school exists at the nexus of these vectors for change. Our commitment to create equity for communities that are under-represented by virtue of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, ability, or neurodiversity is focused and local. The potential impacts are far-reaching. We are at the cross-roads and we will do better.