To the Larger Psychology Community at NYU...
First of all: #BlackLivesMatter
We, the Faculty of the NYU Department of Psychology, stand unequivocally with the Black community and fully and wholeheartedly condemn all acts of violence and murder committed by the police. We are writing to let you know what we are doing to address long standing issues of inclusion in our culture, university, and department. And to let you know where we stand.
We believe silence is not an option.
We say their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and countless other Black men and women who have been needlessly killed.
We would need hundreds of pages to say all their names: the names of the staggering number of victims who were and still are murdered, discriminated against, and oppressed because of their skin color. We stand together with them and with everyone pushing to end systemic racism and police impunity. We unequivocally stand with those peacefully protesting across the country for systemic change.
We acknowledge that our response to the atrocious murder of George Floyd arrives late. We acknowledge that we -- our society, ourselves -- have systemic and structural biases and prejudices that have been embedded within American society since the beginning of our country. We acknowledge that these biases and prejudices are also present in academia.
We acknowledge that we should have done much more in the past to end the bias, prejudice, and racism that also infects science. We apologize. We should have acted earlier, and we should have done better. We acknowledge that many of us are incredibly privileged in many different ways; and we want all of you to know that we are fully committed to use our position and power to listen and act to produce real change.
To the members of our community—this is not an empty statement. Here is what we are doing:
In the past few days and months, NYU’s Psychology Department has taken strides to address inequality within our department and in our community, and we are committed to building on these initiatives. In order to multiply our efforts towards a better system, last year we created a new Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator position and our student body created a Diversity & Inclusion Committee. These groups, in addition to the department at large, invite your participation in brainstorming initiatives that will work against racism in science and improve the diversity and inclusivity of our community. We are here to listen and respond to your needs and requests. Please feel free to offer your concerns or thoughts on action plans here. We will advocate for the issues you raise.
With respect to our PhD admissions process, we have put ourselves, our practices, and our decisions, under the microscope. We identified places in the process where we have fallen short of our diversity goals, and we are committed to fixing them. We set up a committee to generate an action plan to mitigate bias in admissions and are redesigning the PhD requirements and interview process, which will be implemented for applicants to all areas in this next admissions cycle.
We recognize that our resources can be shared more broadly than they have been in the past. We have heard concerns about unequal access to resources. This week, the faculty made a collective financial donation to civil rights organizations supporting #BlackLivesMatter. Many have already committed to sustaining their contributions annually. In the past three months, we launched the Preview Days program, which aimed to fund campus visits and professional development opportunities for people from underrepresented groups prior to graduate application deadlines. We did the same for PhD students from underrepresented groups who are completing their studies and are transitioning into positions in the academy. When COVID19 shut down our campus, our department revamped these programs so that they could be delivered remotely and, as a result, they served a much larger, nation-wide community. We will continue to build out these programs, and aim to do so with your input on how best to share the resources our community has to offer. Soon, many of you will see an invitation to contribute to the development of these programs. Your voice matters.
We know we need to listen more and to listen to more diverse voices. This spring semester marked the creation of an Emerging Scholars Colloquium Series that invites junior scholars from underrepresented backgrounds to visit our department, share their research to broaden the perspectives that are reflected in our conversations, and engage with our community. We are committed to sustaining this series in the next academic year and beyond.
We know that at moments like these, current events can raise awareness of issues that are sometimes forgotten too quickly. To help avoid falling into this trap, we plan to issue an annual report on our progress and future plans toward our goals of addressing inequality and increasing inclusiveness in our department and local communities.
Finally, we acknowledge that some of you may be affected by these events in ways that prevent you from focusing on your work. We understand. The same is true of faculty. We are here to listen to you and to talk to you about these issues, so please reach out by the link above or to any of the faculty to let us know how we can help. We are committed to helping students and our community cope with the current situation. In particular, we are actively planning a virtual town hall, moderated by some of our faculty with expertise on issues of racism and stereotyping, to provide a venue for the members of our community to share their thoughts, brainstorm actions, and provide support for each other in these difficult times. (Stay tuned for specifics.)
We know that this is not enough. We know that we need to do better. We know that we need to do more. We are fully committed to creating a more inclusive and diverse community at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels. And we will. We welcome your participation in trying to make a better world.