June 2nd Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest in DeLand

Addressing Systemic Racism In Our Department

It's Time for Action

Our Counselor Education Department is committed to continual growth and development just as we ask each of you to be while on your journey to becoming a counselor.

The most recent atrocities and injustices perpetuated against the Black community have helped many allies of the Black community recognize elements of systemic racism that were previously concealed by privilege. Our faculty are taking an active stance and are committed to addressing systemic racism that we recognize is present in our department.

I hope you will take the time to listen to the following video message regarding our response and the development of our plan. We truly care about and appreciate every student in our program, and an important goal we have is to ensure that our classes and our offices are places where each student feels valued and genuinely seen. Another valuable goal of ours is to educate and graduate professional counselors who are exceptionally knowledgeable, ethical, culturally competent, and reflective practitioners.

Systemic Racism

Our Plan for Change

Our departmental plan has three components – education, support, and advocacy. We will have a consistently evolving plan in which one phase is informed by and builds upon the others. Please continue to check back as our webpage will continue to evolve as well.

Education

This portion will focus on all stakeholders within our department gaining a shared understanding of:

  • the definition of systemic racism, its individual components, and its far-reaching and devastating impacts
  • the ways in which systemic racism is present in our curriculum, our classes and our interactions with one another

What we have done and are currently doing:

  • In the summer 2020 semester, all faculty engaged in honest discussion about ways in which systemic racism is present within our department. Some examples highlighted in these discussions included (Note: the below examples do not apply to all faculty members or courses):
    • A lack of course materials utilized that are written by Black and Brown authors, theorists, and experts within the counseling field
    • Communicating course content from an all-White perspective and mistakenly applying this perspective to clients of all cultural groups during lecture
    • A lack of focus on topics related to racial trauma
    • Course assignments that may be experienced as culturally insensitive
    • Efforts to help White students recognize White privilege can unintentionally expose students from marginalized communities to undue stress and embarrassment.
  • During the Summer 2020 semester, many students and faculty attended or viewed the following Stetson discussion panels to enhance the shared understanding of racism experienced in our community:

  • During the Fall 2020 semester, faculty allies of the Black community will be reading Why Aren’t We There Yet? Taking Personal Responsibility for Creating an Inclusive Campus by Jan Arminio, Vasti Torres, and Raechele Pope together and engaging in discussions to identify specific departmental changes. All faculty will review proposed changes prior to implementation.
  • During the Fall 2020 semester, Chi Sigma Iota is hosting a student book club to read and discuss So You Want to Talk About Race? By Ijeoma Oluo.

 What is still on the horizon:

  • Sending out an anonymous survey to current students and alumni to elicit a better understanding of how students have experienced elements of systemic racism while in our program
  • Examination of curriculum, assignments, experiential activities, lecture and course materials to ensure equity and diversity inclusion

Support

This aspect may look somewhat different for Black students, White students, and students of color who don’t identify as either of these while we move through the process of self-examination and changework. Understandably, all students may find that they desire differing forms of support at different times. For example, sometimes support will be most helpfully presented as a space where you can talk to and share your experiences with those similar to you. At other times, support can be best experienced when students of differing cultural backgrounds come together to unitedly accomplish a shared goal. Regardless of the group with whom you identify, talking meaningfully about racism will be uncomfortable, and genuine change is by no means simple. Therefore, the importance of support throughout our process cannot be overstated.

What we have done and are currently doing:

  • In the summer 2020 semester, Chi Sigma Iota in collaboration with the department chair, sent out a needs assessment survey to determine the types of support desired by students. Results included:
    • Greater attention at the departmental level paid to racial injustices in our society
    • A group where students can discuss ways to end racial injustice and systemic racism in our country
    • Assistance with stress management
    • Avenues for organization and participation in protests and other forms of campus and community advocacy
    • Specific education about how to advocate at the local government level for long term change
  • In summer 2020, Chi Sigma Iota began hosting a bi-weekly virtual student-only support group. Students can join the support group meeting on the first and third Friday evening of the month from 8p.m. to 9p.m. Chi Sigma Iota has named their meeting the You Can't Fix It Group, and the purpose of this time together is purely for sharing and community building in a confidential space.

What is still on the horizon:

  • Exploring potential collaborations with culturally specific undergraduate organizations
  • Exploring the creation of graduate-level student organizations and/or support groups of special focus

Advocacy

This portion of our plan will be where the true change lies. Advocacy is a veritable pillar of the counseling profession, and, like support, advocacy may embody multiple forms throughout our process of addressing systemic racism. In the beginning, advocacy will take place primarily within our department. However, we will also create and recognize opportunities to expand our advocacy within our University, throughout our communities, and on to a larger national scale.

 What we have done and are currently doing:

  • Many students and faculty within the department participated in peaceful Black Lives Matter protests (wearing appropriate face coverings) during the Summer 2020 semester. 

  • In Fall 2020, a group of faculty members are developing a departmental statement of support for an anti-racist pedagogy to be included in all syllabi and on our website. 

  • Let us know what advocacy-related activities you have been doing so we can add them here!

What is still on the horizon:

  • Collaborations with the Florida Counseling Association are in the works!

Additional Resources

Systemic Racism Action Resources

Stay In Touch

We hope you will reach out to us with any questions or comments. Look for our emails and social media posts for resources and opportunities pertaining to support, education, and advocacy regarding important topics such as racial trauma and systemic racism. We wish everyone a healthy and safe semester!

Stetson University, Counselor Education, updated August 12, 2020

June 2nd Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest in Deland
Photos taken by Lisa Rickman, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Class of 2019

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