Social Work, Anti-Social Ideology

Schools and departments of “social work” tend to be the most ideological and politicized at universities today, so when the faculty of a department of social work complains about political correctness, you know things have gone too far. But that’s exactly what has happened at Smith College, as reported a few days ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Leaked Faculty Letters Expose Racial Fault Lines at Smith’s Social-Work School

By Steve Kolowich

A controversial pair of letters written by faculty members at Smith College’s School for Social Work and addressed to administrators there have inspired a protest and charges of racism by students. The letters, which were leaked to students by an unidentified source, revealed that some professors in the program are frustrated both by the admission of students they view as academically unprepared and by an administration they see as too willing to cave to student complaints.

“We must acknowledge that social work — like every other kind of work — is not for everyone,” says one of the letters, which is signed by “concerned adjuncts” at the graduate school.

Another letter, written by Dennis Miehls, a professor and department chair at the school, alludes to a “tainted” admissions process that let in students who were not well-equipped to succeed. Mr. Miehls did not respond to an email requesting comment.

In a note to students, the person who leaked the letters said that the language of the faculty complaints gave credence to a “climate of fear experienced by students of color at Smith,” and that exposing the letters would “facilitate transparency and accountability,” according to a report from Inside Higher Ed.

Here’s my favorite bit:

The charges of racism are especially notable since they are aimed at a graduate program that has defined itself by an explicit commitment to fight racial bias.

Slowly even liberals are coming to understand that revolutions always end up eating their own. Further down the article exposes the meltdown and utter bankruptcy of what is taking place in Smith’s school of social work:

The faculty letters paint a picture of a program beset by personal recriminations. “There has been a sense on campus that the School for Social Work administration is allowing the school to sink into chaos and to self-destruct,” write the adjunct professors. “It is now beginning to feel as if, by its own ineptitude, it is now facilitating that descent.”

In his letter, Mr. Miehls, chair of the school’s sequence on human behavior in the social environment, makes a point to defend Carolyn S. du Bois, director of field work, against critical “narratives that the students are creating (and that no one seems to be challenging).” Ms. du Bois did not respond to a request for comment.

The letter writers argue at several points that the school’s administration has hurt faculty by acquiescing to student complaints. “I understand that many students of color are expressing concerns and outrage at how they perceive they have been treated at the School and in the field agencies,” writes Mr. Miehls, who has played a role in the school’s antiracism efforts. “Do any of you understand that student narratives may be exaggerated at this point and that the lack of direction from you is only fueling these concerns?”

Meanwhile the writers express concern about students who might not be qualified to graduate. The letter from Mr. Miehls suggests that Smith’s current social-work students lack talent regardless of race.

“Why do you, as administrators, continue to offer differential outcomes to students of color, in spite of overwhelming data that demonstrates that many of our students, including white-identified students, cannot offer clients a social work intervention that is based upon competence, skills and ethics,” Mr. Miehls wrote.

“Student narratives may be exaggerated?” Do tell. The students “lack talent”? And this is a surprise why? And a “white-identified student”? What—do they ban spray tan in the student store at Smith?

Here’s a suggestion. Close down the department, and fire the faculty. Instead, expect Mr. Miehls to be sent to an extended sentence at a “sensitivity” re-education camp.

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