July 8, 2020
The Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services dean’s office, college leadership, and CHHS Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, with input from CHHS students, have developed a Statement on Race and Antiracism. We have done so in reaction to recent events and in reaction to current national conversations about race, safety and systemic change. We release this statement to our community to announce a proactive stance on race and antiracism. The statement contains language about who we are and who we choose to be. It includes measurable actions we will take, immediate and long-term, to work against racism in support of all of our students.
We hope that this statement begins to address some concerns of our Black students, faculty and staff. We believe this is the start of a college-wide conversation, where all individuals will have a voice, and we will all be better for it.
Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services
Statement on Race and Antiracism
The College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) recognizes systemic and institutional racism as a public health crisis, which we commit to actively address. We must assure that Black students, staff and faculty experience a welcoming and inclusive college, and that all our differences and unique contributions to learning are celebrated and encouraged. We must protect and support any student, staff or faculty member who is threatened, harassed, or adversely targeted based on their own identity. We must examine our curricula, programs and practices to identify and dismantle institutional and systemic racism contained within; and commit to strengthening student, staff and faculty professional development with principles of antiracism, social justice and unity. We do this because, at its core, the college prepares our students to help people, all people, in a way that acknowledges and celebrates differences in race, ethnicity, and national and regional origins; sex, gender identity and sexual orientation; socioeconomic status, age, physical attributes and abilities; and religious, political, cultural, and intellectual ideologies and practices (wmich.edu/diversity).
This is who we are:
- We are health and education professionals, preparing the next generation of health and human service professionals
- We are students aspiring to master the skills and attitudes necessary to be effective health care and human service professionals, growing as individuals in our families, groups and communities
- We are practitioners who care deeply about our professions and the communities we serve
These are our values:
- Academic excellence and professionalism
- Accountability, personal and professional
- Accessibility, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Unity
As individuals accountable to one another in classrooms, clinics, labs and in the community, we strive to be responsive to the wants and needs of all our students. We are imperfect. We have failed in the past; but we desire to be better and we are committed to working to be better. We are committed to working on issues related to racism; committed to making changes in the college toward embracing antiracism and eliminating institutional racism; committed to embracing intersectional diversity in our college to mirror the diversity in the communities in which we live and serve. We are committed to moving beyond discussion and committed to action.
And therefore, we will do the following in 2020-23:
- We will challenge the professions we serve and our accrediting bodies to engage in antiracism, and we will work with all of our programs and accrediting bodies to reduce the weight of standardized tests (ACT, SAT, GRE, etc.), which are biased against Black students and students of color, in a move toward holistic admissions processes for the college
- We will increase support of our Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, encouraging student representative roles on the committee, and creating a leadership role for diversity, inclusion and equity in our college
- We will require anti-bias training for all CHHS students and establish mechanisms for any individual to alert college leadership to instances of racism in our academic units or college, and we promise accountability in those instances
- We will develop a code of ethics for the college and our academic units to guide our work
- We will publish data on racial demographics and pass rates (delineated by race) on department and college websites
- We will recruit, hire, promote and retain a diverse faculty and staff, requiring anti-bias training for individuals on hiring, promotion and tenure committees
- We will work with interested parties to establish, support and empower alumni and student groups to focus on the interests and needs of historically marginalized communities
- We will establish annual processes for the college to reaffirm these commitments, to measure their effectiveness, assess climate and culture, uncover next steps and implement further change to end racism in our college
Each of these things we will do, to dismantle racism in our systemic and institutional structures. This work is critical, the time is now, and each of us has an important role to play.