Open Letter to Our Colleagues, Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends: Reaffirming Our Values

Our school has a mandate in these moments of national upheaval to reaffirm our values and work even more passionately to achieve the aims we serve as a profession.

That is the purpose of this letter. I speak for both our social work and nursing departments.

In social work and nursing, the linchpin of our values is social justice for all.

Our vigilance and concern for equity has been central to this school since its earliest inception and stands as a hallmark today.

As a consequence, we are deeply concerned about the way in which current executive orders have been implemented and their impact on individuals, families and communities.

As a school, we pledge to continue our tradition of action and concern for those who are oppressed, neglected and vulnerable to exploitation, wherever they may be.

As social work and nursing have done historically, we will seek to aid citizens affected by harmful social policies, families and frightened youth fleeing terror, and other innocent victims of rapid or ill-considered change. We pledge to work on behalf of these welcome visitors and residents, to protect our students to the fullest extent permitted by the law, and to collaborate with our colleagues from law, medicine and other professions in creating a just and supportive environment.

We understand that technology, global competition and other forces have created serious disparities in health and well-being across the nation.

Because we are a truly national school, with students enrolled through our online programs in almost every state and abroad, we have a deep everyday connection to all regions in the nation. 

At the same time that we respond to the challenges of great urban centers such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, we are also touching lives through our classes and 5,000 agency and clinical placements in rural communities, depopulated manufacturing areas, in military bases of the South, and elsewhere. We know that health and social problems and manifestations of economic injustice are manifested in different ways – sometimes unrecognized.

As the nation’s most far-reaching school, we pledge to acknowledge and work on behalf of those who have suffered from persistent job loss or displacement, broken treaties, failed infrastructure, climate disaster, and other massive social and economic shifts.

As professions, we are dedicated to advocacy for human rights, diversity and inclusion. We believe this is fundamental to preservation of democracy and protection of the individual.

As we have done historically, we will work with political institutions, interest groups, clients, patients, agencies, health care providers, businesses and others to ensure that the least empowered and smallest voices are heard.

We pledge to create an atmosphere of respect for all views in our classrooms, research reviews and public interactions, except where we encounter hate and virulent discrimination. We will encourage the fair exchange of different points of view, recognizing and honoring political differences, while continuously practicing better ways of listening, engaging and responding.

As a school in a global research institution, we reaffirm our commitment to perspectives that embrace and connect the world in a common effort to improve the condition of humanity.

We pledge to maintain our active relationships in countries across the globe, to continue the exchange of information and professional helping practices, and to welcome students, visiting faculty and other colleagues from other cultures. Even as security concerns and other pressures threaten to shrink these contacts, we will seek to continue our common discourse.

As a school in a global research institution, we are committed to development and use of evidence-based data, critical analysis and science.

Universities and the scientific grounding upon which we depend for the advancement of knowledge have a special role to play in the midst of rapid change. We can offer insights that sharpen the effectiveness of intended new policies, we can add discovery to build a better future, and we can produce the best professionals in the world.

We pledge to present the new administration, states and local communities with useful analysis of health and social conditions, to lead commissions and other bodies responsible for the well-being of society, and meet the grand challenges that confront us as social workers and nurses.