Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) chapter at Illinois State University is a registered student organization associated with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). This organization has recognized and responded to calls for reflection about bias in organizational structures. This group was fortunate to have individuals as members who initiated actions in the Fall of 2019 and Spring of 2020 to contribute to needed conversations; it is important to note that these actions preceded the national conversations that occurred in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others.
SAA member Jackie Jouett and Christy Mahrt, one of SAA’s board members, expressed a need to address the lack of diversity and therefore, perspectives, within the field of audiology. Their efforts resulted in a motion to add a position on SAA’s board, diversity chair. This chair would lead a committee with a mission to help current ISU audiology students improve their awareness, acceptance, and ability to serve those with differing perspectives from their own. After unanimous SAA member agreement, Jackie Jouett was elected to the serve as the first chair in this position.
As SAA diversity chair, Jouett had a large response from other members wanting to serve on her committee. The diversity committee plans to bring in various guest speakers to educate current ISU students on how to interact with patients who have differing races, cultures, and ideologies. As the committee is in its infancy, the possibilities are many and limitations are few. With Jouett’s leadership, SAA intends to define concerns in direct language, so the organization can act purposefully. Actions to address racial injustice are paramount. Jouett and the leadership of SAA understand that changes in their organization will improve interactions among patients, providers, coworkers, and collaborators.