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Statement of Support for Our Community


 

The Counseling Center Staff pledges to support our students, campus, and Harrisonburg community as actions of hatred and threats of violence continue to occur in the world around us. We stand in solidarity with all communities who are targets of oppression, aggression, microaggressions, and discrimination. These most recent tragedies reflect a longstanding and entrenched history of structural and systemic injustice that continues to occur. We condemn these actions and are dedicated to addressing the ways that these tragedies may be especially injurious to members of our Black and African American community, and may compound the stress of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on communities of color. We are here to support our JMU community, and those who may be coping with a wide range of complex feelings and perspectives.  

We want to assure the JMU community that our Center values and prioritizes cultural competence within our staff. It is an ethical guideline of our professions (American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, & American Psychiatric Association), and it is something that we actively attend to in our hiring practices and strive for daily in our staff interactions, supervision, consultation, and provision of clinical services (CC Mission & Commitment to Diversity). We recognize that there are mental health professionals who do not live up to those standards and that this can cause pain, foster distrust, and prevent individuals from seeking services. It is for this reason that we ensure that every clinician on our staff has a personal value and commitment to engaging in the training and self-reflection necessary to identify and challenge their biases and blind spots in order to effectively meet the needs of any student who seeks our services regardless of the visible or invisible identities that may exist.  

We recognize that mistakes are unavoidable. When they occur, we will apologize, examine our actions and embedded power structures, attempt to mitigate any harm caused by our actions, and we will do better. For instance, even as we came together as a staff to consider how to continue and improve upon our existing efforts to be a welcoming and safe space for all of the JMU community, we recognized that the delay in this statement might have caused our Black and African American members to feel unseen or unsupported by our Center. This was never our intention, and we acknowledge and regret the impact this may have had.  

We are committed to self-examination, demonstrating our allyship, and creating a safe space where students’ experiences will be heard, validated, and affirmed by all members of our staff. We pledge to continue our dedication to this work with the following steps:

  • Strengthen efforts to solicit student feedback so that we are better able to hear student voices and take in that feedback to make changes. 
  • Expand on existing diversity training initiatives to further educate ourselves and deepen our understanding of implicit bias, the impact of silence, & the systems that perpetuate barriers in accessing or feeling supported by mental health services. 
  • Find new ways to supplement our efforts to reduce barriers for students who wish to access our services.
  • Implement additional search process changes, so that the diversity of our community is reflected within our staff.
  • Continue to build and strengthen relationships with campus partners, especially those who support students being impacted by the stressors and injustices present in our world.
  • Regularly update our website to include valuable resources for all members of our community, ensuring they are visible and easily accessible. 

 
With love, solidarity, and support, 
 
The Counseling Center Staff 

 

  

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Published: Monday, July 27, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2020

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