Department of Psychology Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, & Racial Equity
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” –Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s
The department of psychology at Elon University values individual differences and the constellations of those varied intersecting differences. In keeping with the American Psychological Association Ethics Code (click here to access the APA ethics code), we believe that psychologists must be “aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and consider these factors when working with members of such groups.” We also understand and accept that what constitutes as difference is continuously evolving and expanding, and thus a permanent priority of our department is to maintain sustainable efforts that support both current and future differences. We expect our students to develop and sustain a critical framework for understanding the complexity of human experience and the systems that shape and provide context for this experience, and we expect no less of ourselves as faculty.
We, the faculty of the department of psychology, recognize that our department and the broader field of psychology have historically been comprised of predominantly White, straight, cisgender, and able-bodied individuals. Although we have aspired to create an inclusive community of learners, we acknowledge that within our department, our majority perspectives have influenced our curriculum, pedagogical and mentoring approaches, and scholarship. We further acknowledge that we must do more if we are to fully leverage our positions as psychological researchers, educators, and mentors to improve the human condition for systemically oppressed persons both in our program and throughout the university.
We, the faculty of the department of psychology, commit to diversity, inclusion, and equity work that improves the conditions of all people who have been systemically oppressed because of their individual, cultural, and intersecting identities. Rooted in evidence-based practices, including the diversity, inclusion, and equity work of our colleague, Dr. Buffie Longmire-Avital through the Center for Engaged Learning (click here to read about this work), we offer this framework for action: Each member of our department is expected to contribute to ongoing engagement with diversity. The goal of this engagement is to understand how power and positionality are inherent among differences. Differences have historical, current, and future implications for the individual, the group, and the institutions and systems we operate within. Inclusive efforts in our department will focus on reframing and reshaping the community, climate, and space into one that embraces dynamic change and growth. We will invest in the creation of protected opportunities, access, and space for historically underserved and undervalued persons both in and beyond our community, while simultaneously reducing barriers present throughout our department, university, and disciplinary fields. With an equity-orientation, we are unwavering in our commitment to right past and present wrongs that perpetuate inequities and injustice. In our ongoing pursuit of these goals, we begin with a focus on race. A review of psychological research provides ample evidence of insufficient examination of the impacts of systemic racism and the ongoing oppression of racial minorities (click here to access the review). We believe the foundation we establish in our racial equity work will inform and strengthen our support of all systemically oppressed identities and experiences. We believe this intentional initial focus on racial equity will facilitate our broader diversity, inclusion, and equity work.
Therefore, we commit to the following values and actions aimed at achieving racial equity in our department:
We will be:
- Self-reflective. We will engage in an ongoing process of critically evaluating how we as individuals and as a department have enabled racial inequities in the past, and then thoughtfully act to use our positions of power to dismantle those inequities now and in the future.
- Humble. We will commit to the ongoing self-work and education that is needed if we are to target our flaws and gaps in our knowledge with clarity and purpose, and ensure our efforts are effective without further contributing to the burdens of those already facing inequities.
- Open. We will accept the challenge of change, and we will continually improve our knowledge and regularly enter the transformative space of discomfort. We will seek critical feedback, and we will use it to further learn and grow.
- Flexible. We will be prepared to adapt, so that our efforts align with the dynamic and nuanced nature of racial equity progress.
- Diligent. We will continuously engage in a cycle of evaluating our progress and acting to produce further change without a finite ending.
- Elevate and amplify counter narratives that have been historically silenced and invalidated by White dominant narratives to improve our critical consciousness and transformative potential in order to disrupt historical, structural inequities.
- Expand representation of historically underrepresented participants, scholars, and empirical evidence into our teaching, scholarship, mentoring, advising, and professional activities.
- Develop and maintain a curriculum that requires students to develop their understanding of diversity, inclusion, and equity; their own positionality; and how to apply this knowledge to their academic, professional, and personal activities.
- Create a sustainable departmental infrastructure that removes barriers and facilitates access to opportunities within our department that may be perceived as previously inaccessible to historically underrepresented students, faculty, and staff.
- Establish viable policies and practices that break down barriers to success while simultaneously building outreach systems, hiring/enrolling practices, and mentorship and advising networks that increase equitable representation of and comprehensive support for historically underrepresented students, faculty, and staff.
- Critically evaluate and reshape department climate and sense of belonging by restructuring policies, practices and communications that extend from micro-level daily interactions to macro-level departmental atmosphere.
- Engage in racial equity professional development activities; write positionality statements; critically evaluate how power, influence, and positionality have had ubiquitous dehumanizing effects on many populations, from the obvious to the subtle; and infuse this knowledge into our teaching, scholarship, mentoring, advising, and professional activities.
We acknowledge that this work will not be easy, but it is the work we all must do.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”– Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.
This statement is reviewed annually. Last revised, Spring 2021