Statement of Purpose

Fall 2021 Draft

The five Core Principles call for a community learning and work environment with learning experiences and curricula that centers the knowledge, strength and beauty of Black communities, communities of color, Indigenous communities and other communities that have experienced marginalization. To answer this call, it is critical that each student, faculty member and member of staff commit to learning and working together to build and support our community and to hold these principles as central within our learning environment and with each other.

The programs and structures of Smith SSW were designed in service of whiteness and economic privilege. To make it otherwise requires a constant effort to recode that institutional DNA. We acknowledge the endemic and historical nature of structural racism, and how racism is reproduced through the award of power and privilege structurally and interpersonally. In light of this, principle two is critical:

Ensure accountability at the individual, program and institutional levels and that there are meaningful processes for repair and reconciliation

In a complex organization like the SSW, we understand that, at times, actions taken at the organizational, programmatic or individual levels will cause harm. It is essential that SSW take responsibility for creating and sustaining processes of accountability. We must take responsibility for the effects of our policies, decisions, actions and words on the experiences of Black faculty/staff/students/alumni, that of other folks of color, indigenous folks and folks with identities that have been marginalized. In recognition of our interdependence, the SSW community is responsible for ensuring that there are processes for repair and reconciliation following harm. We are responsible for account-giving of our history.

We expect that the administration and faculty hold responsibility for creating the conditions for institutional, programmatic and individual accountability which includes recognition of the logistical demands on students, faculty and staff and that every one of us has responsibility for holding and sustaining the values and practices of accountability. We expect that by virtue of being at SSW, each community member is consenting to sustain a culture and practice of accountability, where Principle 3, centering communities that have been marginalized for their strength, knowledge and beauty, is held as central. The ethics of social work (see codes of ethics of NABSW, NASW, IFSW) and the practice of social work requires each of us to take responsibility and build our capacity and skills to be in right relationship with those with whom we work.

This statement of purpose is not static. In alignment with Principle Five which asks us to stay open to and actively engage with change, we will revisit this statement of purpose on a regular basis to ensure that it expands and reflects our community as we evolve.