Statements on Current Events

Statements on Current Events

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Reflection Statement

Dear All,

As we near the end of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, I wanted to share a few reflections about this day with our community. The displacement and disenfranchisement of Native Peoples at the hands of the very figures that we long celebrated on this day should remind all of us that we have a long way to go to right the wrongs of centuries past. Although some of us may be familiar with hearing or reading land acknowledgements in recent years (in speeches, syllabi, websites, etc.), I would like to challenge each of us to picture the generations of families that once called these lands their homes and what it must have been like to have that taken away. The peoples of these tribes—the Erie, Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora), Lenape (Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe, Stockbridge-Munsee), Monongahela, Shawnee (Absentee, Eastern, and Oklahoma), Susquehannock, and Wahzhazhe (Osage) Nations—surely carried all the hope and promise that we all have for our families and acknowledging the history of these lands means honoring these families’ generational pain and struggle, as well as their resilience.

I want to juxtapose these observations with a wonderful meeting I had today with a former Penn State psychology grad from the Navajo Nation, Tim Benally. A former McNair student and current grad student in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Tim worked me in for coffee in between various events at which he was speaking today in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It was wonderful to see Tim thriving and we spoke about how much growth he has seen in the Native Community at PSU, even while recognizing how woefully small it still is. Perhaps most importantly, he shared how critical it was for his success to have the support of key Native (and some non-Native) faculty, staff, and students. We reflected on the power that each one of us has in helping members of our marginalized communities be resilient in the face of adversity. Each one of these outcomes is meaningful and we should never lose sight of that. I hope that we each take a moment to consider the small and large ways we can honor Native Peoples and their legacy.


José Soto
Associate Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Statement on Reproductive Justice

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On June 24th 2022, the US Supreme Court voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade (1973) decision (and subsequent legal cases) that protected, on a federal level, the right for women, girls, and pregnant people to make decisions about their reproductive health, including the deeply personal decision to terminate a pregnancy. The national and global impact of this ruling will alter the lives of children and families for generations. Many in the Department of Psychology condemn the Court’s decision and stand with those who affirm the need for accessible reproductive health services and emphasize the importance of reproductive justice for all.

The highest court in the land has stripped people of their reproductive rights, granting states the power to decide what is best for individuals’ bodies and invalidating people’s autonomy to make their own health-care decisions. The removal of this constitutional right—and the subsequent impact of forcing birth—is concerning to many of us working within the psychology field. Individuals and families are already feeling the psychological, physical, economic, and political impact of restricting access to reproductive healthcare. For example, within one week of the Supreme Court’s ruling, a 10-year-old child in Ohio was denied in-State abortion care and forced to travel beyond her home state for care. The politicized landscape of healthcare now dictates that, in some jurisdictions, a child-rape victim must carry a fetus to term. This is only one story from the many pregnant children and people in the US who now face forced birth. Denial of abortion care, regardless of how one becomes pregnant, is a denial of the right to privacy and bodily autonomy at the most basic level.

As is so often the case, the devastating consequences of restricted rights are not shared equally by our communities. Our colleagues in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) have written an informative and powerful letter delineating some of the major ways in which this regressive ruling disproportionately impacts those who are less likely to have adequate health care access (namely, persons of color, members of LGBTQ+ communities, those living in poverty, among others). That letter can be found here. You can read it to learn more about the historical context, global implications, and troubling inequities that surround this ruling.

The Court’s decision profoundly influences the lives of many members of our psychology community, their families, and their future families. Our current and future colleagues, students, and their partners might now consider reproductive rights in deciding where they live for fear of not having access to bodily autonomy, dignity, and life-saving healthcare. This may be particularly challenging for graduate students who now face the threat of forced birth on a stipend, adding immeasurable financial burden to an already stressful career and life stage. Restricted healthcare access limits career opportunities, affects psychological well-being, influences decisions about family planning, impacts physical and reproductive health, and exacerbates stress about other rights that are threatened. Indeed, the pervasiveness of transphobia, sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and classism embedded in our social institutions is now emboldened to intensify into action. Many legal scholars have noted that the justification used in the Supreme Court’s decision can be easily applied to overturn other basic rights to privacy (e.g., same-sex marriage, sex education, contraception, gender affirmation).

We acknowledge the pain and stress that this significant ruling has on many in our community. To create space for organizing department members around this issue, we are developing a Justice Leaning Group to operate within the Department’s DEI Committee. The WGSS Department has also shared some resources to help members of our community (see below), but if you need immediate support, please feel free to consult any of the local advocacy groups listed below or contact Kristin Buss who can help you find the right resources. We are committed to working within and beyond our department to use our expertise to advocate for reproductive justice for all.

In Solidarity,

José Soto, Associate Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Kristin Buss, Department Head

Local Resources

Student Advocacy Groups:

Planned Parenthood Generation Action @ PSU
Triota Honor Society

Community Agencies:

Centre SAFE

General Resources

PLAN C: Learn to access at-home abortion pill options online (plancpills.org) [educational site about accessing abortion pills and safely managing abortion]

Amazon.com: My Choice Emergency Contraceptive 1 Tablet : Health & Household [purchase PlanB]

Planned Parenthood Keystone [Planned Parenthood of PA]

Verso (versobooks.com) [FREE book: We Organize to Change Everything: Fighting for Abortion Access and Reproductive Justice, edited by Natalie Adler et al. (Verso)]

Reproductive Justice — Sister Song [information on reproductive justice]

M+A HOTLINE [a confidential, private and secure phone and text hotline for people in need of support for self-managed miscarriage or abortion]

If/When/How Repro Legal Helpline [a free, confidential source for legal advice and information on self-managed abortion. Visit ReproLegalHelpline.org or call 844-868-2812]

INeedAnA.com [find a clinic – to find vetted, up to date, and personalized info on how to get an abortion; no search or user data saved]

Guttmacher Institute | Good reproductive health policy starts with credible research [research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights globally]

https://digitaldefensefund.org/ddf-guides/abortion-privacy [info on digital security and abortion]

https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/06/29/hhs-issues-guidance-to-protect-patient-privacy-in-wake-of-supreme-court-decision-on-roe.html [info on privacy and period trackers]


Statement on AAPI Violence

Statement in Response to Recent Attacks:

The Psychology department condemns the horrifying acts of racial, ethnic, and cultural violence that are proliferating across the country and across our communities. The recent murder of Asian women is part of a larger trend and one that has deep historical roots (learn more here). Over the last year, Asian Americans and people of Asian descent are facing a shocking rise in hatred and violence: just between March 2020 and February 2021 3,800 hateful incidents have been reported, nearly 70% of which were directed toward women. As psychologists, we understand that these acts of hate intimidate, traumatize, and belittle their immediate targets, as well as other members of  the Asian community.

We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed such events to seek assistance and to report the hatred (see resources below). Be well and take good care of yourselves and each other.  

Report Bias and Hate

Resources for Support

  • If you would like to talk to a peer for support or to get help with resources, the BRIDGE diversity alliance in Psychology has office hours you may attend. For details please contact bridgepennstate@gmail.com. 
  • Penn State CAPS has a specific page for racial and ethnic minority groups: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/resources/resources-racially-minoritized-students 
  • The Paul Robeson Cultural Center provides resources and programming: https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/cultural 
  • For employees needing support, the Penn State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), through the EAP+Work/Life program, offers short-term counseling from licensed EAP professionals, by phone, email or in person to help employees better cope with personal, family and work issues. EAP also offers access to Personal Health Advocates, who can help navigate healthcare and insurance systems, efficiently and dependably. More information is available at https://hr.psu.edu/health-matters/employee-assistance-program

For More Information


Statement on Racial Violence in Policing

Recently, we learned that former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. We hope that the jury’s verdict represents a measure of accountability and peace for George Floyd’s family, his loved ones and the communities that have been impacted by his tragic death.

While the verdict in the Chauvin case represents an important departure from the historical lack of accountability, we must recognize the ongoing pain, anger, fear, demoralization, and trauma that befalls members of the Black community and other communities of color with each incidence of violence at the hands of police. In recent weeks, the police have killed Daunte Wright (age 20), Adam Toledo (age 13), and Ma’Khia Bryant (age 16). In fact, since the beginning of 2020, at least 238 Black men and women (136 of which were unarmed) have been shot to death by police, representing nearly 50% of all police shooting deaths, despite representing only 13.4% of the US population.

We continue to affirm our collective and individual commitments to look inward and work toward becoming anti-racist in our university and community activities; and, to provide resources and support to assist those who need the most help in the wake of these events. We also stand with our colleagues across the country and university in denouncing police violence and structural racism and supporting police reform.

Below we provide local resources and information to help those in need of additional support during these times. In addition, we are working to create safe spaces for Black students and other students of color within existing departmental structures as well as considering new opportunities for providing these spaces.

PSU Resources

  • Penn State Report Bias
  • If you would like to talk to a peer for support or to get help with resources, the BRIDGE diversity alliance in Psychology has office hours you may attend. For details please contact bridgepennstate@gmail.com
  • BRIDGE has also compiled an anti-racism resource bank that contains resources for the well-being of Black Students (and other students of color), as well as resources for allies.
  • Penn State CAPS has a specific page for racial and ethnic minority groups
  • The Paul Robeson Cultural Center provides resources and programming
  • For employees needing support, the Penn State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), through the EAP+Work/Life program, offers short-term counseling from licensed EAP professionals, by phone, email or in person to help employees better cope with personal, family and work issues. EAP also offers access to Personal Health Advocates, who can help navigate healthcare and insurance systems, efficiently and dependably

Local Community Resources

Resources on learning more about law enforcement violence

A Recent Academic Article