In Alumni Resources, Diversity, Resources

Psychologists for Social Responsibility Pacifica Graduate Institute

Update 11/18/20


The Psychology Students for Social Responsibility – Pacifica Graduate Institute Chapter (PsySSR-PGI) has sent the following demands and letters to the Pacifica Administration as a call to transform the racial climate at Pacifica. The contents of these materials can be emotionally triggering, so we have provided support documents including how to deal with emotional overwhelm.

Demands (PDF file for easy reading)
Letter to Dr. Cambray
D. Lynn – Personal Testimony
PsySSR-PGI Statement of Support
Dealing with Emotional Overwhelm
White Fragility Playbook
VIDEO: A Collective Reading of the Demands – password: transformpgi2020#


If you would like to add your testimony regarding your experiences of racism or discrimination at Pacifica, please feel free to send your story to Denise Lynnatcoprez.psyssr.pgi@gmail.comand let her know if you would prefer to remain anonymous. You are welcome to use any form of expression such as photography, art, poetry, haiku, or other forms of imagination as an alternative to a written testimony or story.



PsySSR-PGI will also be having regular “consciousness-raising” sessions, as well as a series of “Transforming the Racial Climate at Pacifica Townhalls” where the Pacifica community can gather to “think, feel and dream together” about transforming the racial climate at Pacifica. All who are committed to this work, as well as those who are curious and would like to learn more, are welcome.
Stay tuned for an invitation for the PsySSR-PGI Townhall in the near future.


The Psychologists for Social Responsibility Pacifica Graduate Institute (PsySSR-PGI) Chapter was initially founded by Kelty Walker, a Phd Student in Clinical Psychology in 2019. As an organization, the Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) is an engaged community of members and supporters who work to advance peace and social justice through the ethical use of psychological knowledge, research, and practice. Representing a variety of cultural and disciplinary perspectives, PsySR recognizes diversity as a valuable resource in our efforts to address economic, racial, and gender-based injustices and other forms of oppression. PsySR believes that peace with justice in an environmentally sustainable world depends upon a commitment to global well-being, universal human rights, mutual understanding, and collaborative partnerships in the pursuit of change.

We are a newly formed organization and are looking for passionate and committed individuals to fill officer roles or lead action groups. PsySSR-PGI is organized into action groups that represent various areas related to peace, social justice, and the environment. The first action group that we formed is focused on transforming the racial climate at Pacifica. Students have also expressed passion around police brutality, militarism, LGBTQIA+ advocacy, women’s rights, and climate change. We look forward to supporting and encouraging inspired leaders that wish to establish those and other action groups to advance peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.


PsySSR-PGI and Anti-Racism at Pacifica

After the murder of George Floyd, PsySSR-PGI organized a Town Hall to discuss issues of systemic racism and oppression on our campuses. From that town hall, an informal working group formed between PhD students in Clinical Psychology, PhD Administrators in Clinical Psychology and PsySSR-PGI members. The groups’ collective efforts mobilized around a transformational plan that was developed by Denise Lynn, Co-president of PsySSR-PGI, to address systemic racism within the institution.  As you know, Pacifica Graduate Institute provides a unique depth psychological education to its students.  However, as is typical of many psychology programs, and particularly with depth psychology, the curriculum is largely Eurocentric in its construction and privileges the voices of white, European men.  Consequently, the academic space at Pacifica has almost exclusively been configured as a white, cultural space, which is not conducive to the needs of Pacifica’s diverse student body.

The plan identifies concrete and material solutions that address and remedy the problems BIPOC students have experienced at Pacifica. The objective of the plan is to transform the racial climate of the school and to make it a safe place for BIPOC students, by creating an inclusive campus climate that is supportive of both indigenous and non-indigenous ontologies and praxis, as well as non-indigenous cosmologies and ways of knowing.

PsySSR-PGI defines racism as an interpenetrating system that encompasses acts by individuals, groups, as well as structural and institutional constraints, which can range from microaggressions and macroaggressions, all the way up to physical threats of violence and hate crimes.  These acts may be overt or covert and individuals who experience racism may be victimized either directly or vicariously.  We also include White fragility defenses, in our definition of racism, which are largely unconscious strategies that are intended to divert or squelch conversations about systemic racism and oppression.

In recognition of prior movements, the plan’s solutions are written in a series of urgent demands, each prefaced with the words, WE THE UNIFIED COALITION OF PACIFICA STUDENTS, DEMAND… The demands encompass six broad categories of solutions: “Diversity Accountability,” “Diversity Oversight,” “Pedagogical Diversity/Diversity in the Curriculum,” “Supporting Diversity at Pacifica,” “Diversifying the Grounds,” “Tending to the Diverse Soul of Pacifica” and “Tending to the Diverse Soul of the World.”  The demands will continue to evolve and adapt to best address systemic racism and oppression in all of its forms at Pacifica.  If there are any demands that you feel need to be added to the document based upon your unique experiences as a student at Pacifica, please send them to us for review.

We are open to collaboration and are seeking to partner with external organizations, students, and other interested parties.  On August 21st, 2020, we forwarded the demands to Dr. Cambray and the Board of Trustees. We have since been in communication with Dr. Cambray and have been told that our materials have been forwarded to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which is still in its infancy. We remain concerned because Pacifica’s response has failed to include languaging that specifically addresses anti-racism. In addition, their response significantly lags behind other psychological organizations; i.e the APA, CIIS, Howard University, University of Texas, among others, who have already implemented transparent plans and remedies. For these reasons, it is critical that we maintain a presence and a voice on the topic of anti-racism and racial transformation at Pacifica.

For the 2020-2021 academic school year, PsySSR-PGI is focused on making changes to the curriculum and ensuring that the staff, faculty and administration receive diversity, sensitivity and ant-racism training.  We are also committed to the creation of an educational lecture series, the creation of student support groups, such as BIPOC student support groups and racial affinity groups, as well as book circles that will allow participants to begin to do their anti-racism “inner work.”   The first book circle will begin on November 11th, 2020, facilitated by Heather Lilleston, using the text Me andWhite Supremacy by Layla Saad.  We are also in the process of creating a book circle for BIPOC students. If you would be interested in starting and facilitating PGIAA anti-racist “inner work” book circles please email us at PSYSSR.PGI@GMAIL.COM

As depth practitioners who have been entrusted with the sacred responsibility of tending to the souls of a diverse community, it is PsySSR-PGI’s most fervent hope that our work will be revolutionary achieve cultural humility and sensitivity . It is our hope that this work will not only radically transform the hearts, minds and souls of the Pacifica community, but that it will also be the catalyst for profound changes in our beliefs, and more importantly, in our actions and behaviors.  In this way, we hope to interrupt the cycle of systemic racism and oppression and create a more fair and equitable world.


PsySSR-PGI Successes – You Can Get Involved

We are humbled and grateful for the many people who have helped in moving forward our first action group of racial climate transformation. Whether your support has been demonstrated by signing the demands petition, participating in planning, advising, starting book circles, reviewing documents, or communicating to your cohorts, your support and voice has been invaluable. YOUR VOICE COUNTS and has made possible many of the changes below:

  • Creating and Communicating the Demands Across Pacifica/Administration
  • Participating in the Erosion of Previously Existing Academic Program Siloes
  • Receiving Pan-Pacifica Interest and Support
  • Creating Deep Relationships and Support from Other Pacifica Organizations
  • Receiving PsySSR-PGI Recognition at National Level
  • Promoting Demands as Roadmap for Other Schools Outside of Pacifica
  • Receiving Enthusiastic Petition Support
  • Clinical Psychology Changes
    • CL 755 Now Includes Anti-Racism Training
    • 3-Hour Group Processing Sessions to Address Distress Around Racism/Microagressions
    • Faculty Aware of Commitment to Anti-Racist and Decolonial Pedagogy and Need for Non-Dominant Thinkers
    • Significant Changes by Faculty to Syllabi and Content
    • Developmental Psychology Revamped for Cultural Considerations
  • Establishing Me and White Supremacy Book Circle


For more information, please email PSYSSR.PGI@GMAIL.COM.

To read and sign the demands letter click here:  Petition Support

Stay tuned to this location for updates, as we chronicle our collective progress towards racial climate transformation and the advancement of peace and social justice issues through action groups that are inspired by future motivated leaders.

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