I am writing this letter to our students as some of you have stopped by today to share with me your shock, concern, grief, and sadness over the outcome of the election. Many of you are concerned about what this means for those of you who have family from Mexico, are immigrants yourselves, are LGBTQ, or feel unsafe in general due to the rhetoric of the campaign.
Please be mindful that we are a bipartisan student body. We can’t assume that everyone voted the same way and we don’t know how our classmates and colleagues voted. What is important is to remember are the core values of the NASW Code of Ethics—social justice, human dignity and worth, and the importance of relationships (https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp). We try to live up to these values in all of our interactions, not just with clients. Perhaps that is why in so many ways, being a social worker is an identity—it is not just what we do but is who we ARE.
Today and tomorrow, perhaps for a few days, we might need to discuss our feelings about the outcome of the election with trusted friends or family. Then it is time to put ourselves into action. What does this mean? That is for you to decide. Some ideas are to join a student organization, social work or otherwise, that may expose you to classmates who are different from yourself. Make a new friend or sit with someone new in your class. Ask how they are doing and genuinely listen. Join the Social Action Committee and sign up for Lobby Days, to learn how to advocate on the political level. Use cultural humility in interactions, whether it is with a new friend or clients. Work to bridge the differences that divide us. Some of our students today held a peaceful demonstration outside of Hepner Hall, holding up signs about love and standing against hate and racism.
Please feel free to talk to me or any of our faculty should you wish to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. We want a safe environment for all of our students, to be able to learn and thrive, and be advocates for those we serve.