Racism is a systemic, long-standing problem in the United States. Furthermore, racism, through its structural roots, continues to be reinforced in all areas of life within the United States, including education, employment, health care, housing, economic opportunity, community participation, and leisure. As members of the OT community, we are acutely aware of the positive influence of meaningful participation in these areas on well-being and health of individuals and the communities in which they live. We also understand that higher education offers opportunity for personal and economic growth. Thus, we are committed to continually provide an education that prepares future occupational therapists to offer quality services to all persons within our diverse nation and advocate for the historically marginalized communities and individuals. As a program that offers higher education to prepare students for a career in health and human services, the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of New Hampshire commits to promote anti-racism in both our admissions processes as well as in our curriculum.
As action steps, our department has established two specific goals towards this commitment. Our first goal is to increase the number of students of color by 10%. We will work with the University Admissions and Graduate School to support this goal. Furthermore, we will identify and implement strategies to support and retain occupational therapy students who come from diverse backgrounds so they successfully graduate. Second, our faculty has committed to participate in training to increase their ability to promote understanding of racial and demographic inequalities as relevant to occupational therapy education. Faculty will annually review and incorporate diversity related concepts and issues throughout our curriculum in specific courses they teach. The goal to create a just society is difficult but urgent and as UNH Occupational Therapy faculty we are committed to work towards this goal.