I am writing to affirm that the UF Rehabilitation Science Doctoral program is committed to using our platform to advance and address issues related to equality, inclusion, diversity and social justice. We acknowledge that social injustice is real and ongoing and that actions, not words, are required. We acknowledge the leadership and bravery of the Black activists who have done so much to bring these issues to the nation’s consciousness. We also know that the recent events related to racism, violence, and social injustice have personally affected many in our RSD community. These events have given us pause and we recognize that we need to improve how we address these issues within our program.
Our number one priority is to provide a safe and welcoming environment that champions empathy, diversity, compassion, justice, and equality. And although we don’t have the answers right now, we are committed to listening, critical self-reflection and learning so that we may be an agent of positive change.
What can we do? On a previously scheduled “town hall” with many of our students, we began a discussion of how our Program can be a voice for change and part of the solution. We talked of implementing a regular forum to discuss social and racial inequities in the discipline of Rehabilitation Science. We discussed hosting a panel of students and faculty to address the difficult question – why don’t we have more people of color in our program? How can we address racism and social injustice as a formal part of the curriculum? This was an impromptu discussion but we will not let it stop there. Thus, I am asking you, the RSD community to provide input. How can we use our platform, our position of privilege, to help implement short and long-term changes in our local, national and international communities? Certainly town hall meetings and discussions are needed – how shall we implement this? What other action items can we identify? I look forward to hearing from you. This is our community, and together we must make sure we are headed in the direction of inclusion and equality.
Stay strong in these difficult times. We will go forward together,