As we enter into 2017, it is a good time for a reminder of the values of the Counseling Psychology Department at the Morgridge College of Education. Said concisely, our faculty, staff, and students work to promote social justice and stand against hateful, discriminatory, and divisive language and actions. Although this statement may appear to be an affirmation of common sense, in 2016 we witnessed an alarming increase in hate speech and discriminatory rhetoric, including encouraging for violence towards women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and generally other underrepresented populations in our country. Sitting down, remaining silient, and accepting this behavior as the new normal is not an option, at least not for us. For instance, our faculty and students continue to be active in promoting our values (Click here for an example of Dr. Garriott’s examination of power and privilege dynamics in society).
Our department’s recognition of the primacy of social justice translated this year into five students awarded fellowships from the SAMSA and NAADAC’s Minority Fellowship Program. The Fellowship Program’s stated goal is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health care outcomes for racially diverse populations including minority and LGBT populations, and transition age youth. Additionally, another student was awarded APA’s Minority Fellowship.
During these times we must try to remind ourselves that ultimately the convictions and dedication of the community to justice and respect for all people, has, and will continue to prevail. Our students, faculty and staff have committed themselves to justice and equity through tangible actions. We have participated in on-campus rallies in support of Native Americans at Standing Rock, advocating for a sanctuary campus, and additional political protests around the city. Our on-going forum, called Campus Conversations, provided a great space to organize our efforts and voice our opinions and feelings about happenings on-campus and around the world, especially as they relate to discrimination and equal rights. Evolving from this group, the Counseling Psychology Department created a CP specific Social Justice Committee. We also started a social justice listserv to provide community members a platform to share events and stories, and to organize grassroots efforts to continue the fight against hate. Our faculty are also engaged with several initiatives focused on promoting social justice locally in our Denver-metro area as well as around the nation (check out their profiles to learn more). Perhaps our most important effort is the one we give to each other every day in seeking to learn and understand concepts and people that are unfamiliar to us, and to honor each other’s unique identities.
We will continue the to combat against hate, and to promote a more loving world, and we hope that you will too. We leave you with the powerful words of Margaret Mead that ring true, now more than ever: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”