Since our inception, the Smith College School for Social Work has worked to promote knowledge, values and skills that help students to identify, critically analyze and intervene against the insidious and lethal effects of racism. Our school community is one that fosters respect for diverse worldviews and for each other's equal place in the world. We believe in the power of self-reflection and ongoing discussion about how issues of race influences social work practice, research and scholarship.
In 1995, the School for Social Work faculty made a formal commitment to becoming an anti-racism organization. We made this pledge to make explicit our responsibility to continuously learn about and disrupt systems of privilege, inequality, and oppression that maintain white supremacy, rewarding, punishing, and silencing based on socially assigned differences.
To bring accountability to our work, the SSW Anti-Racism Consultation Committee is charged with monitoring the School’s progress toward anti-racism. Comprised of students, alumni, faculty and staff, the ARCC meets monthly, setting a course to solicit feedback and perspectives from the SSW community, generating and reviewing relevant data and proposals to ensure that our school is continuously working towards our pledge. Members of the ARCC are available to any SSW community member for consultation when issues of structural racism manifest in community process.
In addition to the ARCC, through our commitment we have developed other important structures to bring our pledge alive:
The Anti-Racism Monthly meeting brings together faculty and administrators in a dedicated time for ongoing learning and discussion about issues of race and racism, and our integration of the anti-racism lens in curriculum and organizational processes.
The Marta Sotomayor Fellow is annually appointed position for a member of the SSW community to serves as an ombudsperson for the School community around issues of institutional racism and oppression and the ways in which they manifest within the educational process. This position honors the contributions of SSW alum Marta Sotomayor who was the first Latina in the United States to earn a doctorate in social work. Dr. Sotomayor served as the first executive director of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. She brought an unwavering focus to issues of equity and social justice in all that she did.
Pedagogy and Diversity is a weekly teaching group, co-facilitated by the Sotomayor Fellow and a resident faculty member, at which instructors have the opportunity to critically examine and address issues of power, privilege, and oppression that emerge within the classroom.
In 2016, the faculty has agreed to ongoing training for all SSW instructors, advisers, students, and staff members with the Critical Conversations group facilitation model (O'Neill & Kang 2016). This facilitation model provides a structured process to work through tensions that emerge across participants of a discussion when issues of power, privilege, and bias emerge.
We ask all members of our Smith community to join us in this important commitment and our ongoing work.