- M.S.W. Program requirements
- Academic policies and procedures
- Enrollment and registration procedures
- Resources and services for students
This Student Handbook is intended only to provide information for the guidance of the Smith College School for Social Work students. The information is subject to change, and the Smith College School for Social Work reserves the right to depart without notice from any policy or procedure referred to in this handbook. This handbook is not intended to be and should not be regarded as a contract between the Smith College School for Social Work and any student or other person.
Table of Contents
- 300.1 Overall Credit Requirements
- 302 Class Attendance
- 303 Extensions
- 304 Student Evaluation of Courses and Internships
- 401 Coursework
- 402 Field Internship
- 403 Grade Changes
- 404 Appeal of Grade
- 500.1 Student Responsibilities
- 501 Course Scheduling
- 502 Prerequisites for Progression in the Program
- 503 Transferring Course Credit
- 504 Waiving a Required Course
- 603.1 Consultation, Stage 1 of the Academic Progress Review Process
- 603.2 Academic Progress Review, Stage 2 of the Review Process
- 603.3 Review Procedures
- 603.5 Notification of the Review Outcomes
- 603.6 Confidentiality
- 603.7 Student's Request to Withdraw or Take a Leave of Absence Prior to a Review
- 603.8 Appeals Procedures
- 801 School Policies & Procedures in Accordance with FERPA
- 802 Records Kept by the Office of Academic Support Services
- 803 Records Kept by the Student Financial Services Office
- 804 Records Kept by the Office of the Dean
- 805 Records Kept by the Field Work Department
- 806 Records Kept by the Office of Disability Services
- 901.1 Social Events Accessibility Policy
- 901.2 Using Social Media in Professional & Educational Endeavors
- 902 Communications from the School
- 903 Policies of Smith College
- 903.1 Statement of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression
- 903.2 Policies Concerning Freedom of Expressions and Dissent
- 903.3 Smith College Equal Opportunities Policy
- 903.4 Smith College Sexual Assault Policy
- 903.5 Smith College Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy
- 903.6 Smith College Policy on Substance Abuse and Substance Use
- 903.7 Smith College Policies Regarding Alcohol
- 903.8 Smoking Policy
- 903.9 Pranks and Hazing
- 903.10 AIDS Guidelines for the Smith College Community
- 903.11 Disability Services Policy
- 903.12 Service and Support Animals Policies
- 903.13 Parking Policies
- 903.14 Smith College Policy on Chalking
- 903.15 Posting of Information
- 903.16 Firearms Policy
- 903.17 Missing Student Policy
- 903.18 Bicycle Policy
- 903.19 Smith College Social Events Policy
The mission of the Smith College School for Social Work is to advance the aims of the profession through education for excellence in clinical social work practice and through the development and dissemination of knowledge.
The School for Social Work views clinical social work practice as concerned with the interdependence between individuals and their environments and the use of relationships to promote healing, growth and empowerment. Clinical social work appreciates and responds to the complexities of the human condition in its global context: its strengths, possibilities, resiliency, vulnerabilities, limitations and tragedies. Clinical social work expresses the core values of the profession, including recognition of client self-determination, the importance of relationship, the inherent dignity of client systems and growth and change in the client system. In addition, clinical social work includes a commitment to the pursuit of social justice, anti-racism work, and culturally responsive practice. It rests upon a liberal arts base and integrates evolving theories and research-informed knowledge about individuals, families, groups, communities and the larger social systems in which they are embedded.
In its educational practices, the School promotes critical thinking and self-reflection to help students expand their knowledge in the substantive areas of human behavior and the social environment, social work practice, research, social policy and field practice to prepare competent and effective practitioners and leaders in clinical social work. The School prepares students to apply the professional code of ethics. The School prepares students for the evaluation and dissemination of evolving theories, research and practice models.
The School shares with the social work profession its historic commitment to serve oppressed, disadvantaged and at risk members of our society and to struggle against inequality and oppression related to: race, ethnicity, immigration status, class, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, age and ability. It is committed to implementing a curriculum that addresses the concerns, issues and interests of these populations. Through all of its programs, the School joins Smith College in its commitment to promote social justice, service to society and greater appreciation of individual and cultural diversity in a multicultural community. In recognition of the pernicious consequences of racism, the School works to identify and challenge the overt and covert aspects of racism.
The School implements its educational mission through its master’s and doctoral degree programs both of which include intensive block field internships, required individual research projects and its Program of Continuing Education, including its certificate programs. Through its publications, including Smith Studies in Social Work, the Clinical Research Institute, faculty and student publications and conference presentations, the School also contributes to the development and dissemination of knowledge relevant for social work. In its affiliation with a liberal arts college, the School places a priority on the process of teaching and learning. The School maintains relationships of mutual respect and influence with its affiliated agencies, major professional organizations and other representatives of the social work practice community to aid in curriculum renewal and to contribute to the development of the profession as a whole.
- voted November 18, 2010
Racism is a system of privilege, inequality, and oppression based on perceived categorical differences, value assigned to those differences, and a system of oppression that rewards and punishes people based on the assigned differences. It is manifested politically, socially, economically, culturally, interpersonally, and intrapersonally in the history of the United States.
Smith College School for Social Work promotes knowledge, values and skills that help students to identify, critically analyze and intervene against the injurious effects of racism. The School for Social work community fosters respect for diverse worldviews and for each other’s equal place in the world. Self-reflection and deepening conversations about race influence practice, research and scholarship at the School.
The social work profession serves diverse communities and individuals that include a wide spectrum of identities, backgrounds and experiences. The assumption of the faculty of Smith College School for Social Work is that social work is most effective when engaged in by a diverse and inclusive workforce. We thus believe that our learning community must also be enriched by the same diversity our profession serves.
In keeping with our mission we comply with all applicable federal non-discrimination statutes. We welcome all students regardless of identities, backgrounds and experiences, who are able to meet the educational standards of the School and the profession. We believe that the responsibility for respecting difference and the active inclusion of all members of our learning community is shared by each of us at the School, individually and collectively.
Smith College is committed to maintaining a diverse community in an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation of differences. Smith College does not discriminate in its education and employment policies on the bases of race, color, creed, religion, national/ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or with regard to the bases outlined in the Veterans Readjustment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The following office has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies:
Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity
College Hall 103
Northampton, MA 01063
Chief Diversity Officer
Students in an educational institution who, because of their religious beliefs, are unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement which they may have missed because of that absence, provided that the make-up examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon the School. The institution shall not charge a fee of any kind for making this opportunity available to students. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to students availing themselves of the provision of this section.
Becoming a competent clinical social worker is a lengthy and complex process requiring the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and experience including the development and deployment of a conscious and skillful use-of-self. The professional activities of social work students are guided by the application of professional knowledge that is grounded in relevant biological, psychological, and social knowledge and research. This includes but is not limited to knowledge and skills in relationship-building, data-gathering, assessment, interventions and evaluation of practice.
The skillful use-of-self, the primary instrument of clinical social work, requires a certain set of attributes and abilities that enable students to engage successfully in the full spectrum of the experiences and the requirements of the curriculum. The following standards (distinguished from academic standards such as grades, class attendance, etc.)describe those attributes and abilities necessary for students to have and to demonstrate throughout the entirety of the program study in which they are enrolled at the SCSSW. They are informed by both the mission of the School for Social Work and its anti-racism commitment. Students at the Smith College School for Social Work are expected to have and demonstrate these abilities and attributes at a level appropriate to their year in the program. Attention to these standards are critical to the School’s mission to educate effective clinical social workers and will be part of evaluations of students’ progress in all arenas of the program, including classroom, internship, and as members of the school community.
Evident in its antiracism commitment is the School’s recognition that structural racism and multiple forms of oppression manifest within all organizations and systems. Accordingly, the School also acknowledges that dominant standards of professionalism have been, and can be, used to further marginalize, exclude, and discount the contributions and competence of social workers from marginalized communities. A driving force for diversifying higher education is to decenter dominant narratives and to welcome a multiplicity of voices and knowledges within the profession. The School acknowledges, therefore, that building structures and processes of accountability that will aid the ongoing review and assessment of its practices and policies is also a critical component of the School’s mission to educate effective clinical social workers.
In applying the standards outlined below, the School is committed to interrupting the ways that the forces of racism and structural oppression materialize within its own institutional policies and processes. In recognition, moreover, that students are placed in a broad range of field internships, each at a different phase of their anti-oppression work, the School also affirms the need for ongoing work with these partner organizations in support of students as they navigate those systems. In all aspects of its educational programs, the School will strive to attenuate the impact of structural racism and oppression on the learning and progress of all students in general, and students of color and those identifying with other marginalized communities in particular.
- Demonstrate commitment to the broad scope of values, ethics, goals, and standards of the profession as outlined by NASW and the principles of the SSW anti-racism commitment.
- Demonstrate an appreciation for the value of human diversity in all aspects of their professional interactions.
- Demonstrate a willingness and capacity a commitment to engage the complexity of inequality and structural oppressions in all aspects of their professional interactions.
- Demonstrate the ability to recognize and reflect upon one’s own values, attitudes, beliefs, biases, emotions, and past experiences, and be adept at examining and managing how these affect their thinking, behavior, and relationships in all aspects of one’s professional interactions.
- Demonstrate a willingness and capacity to critically examine and modify one’s behaviors when they impede or contradict the values, ethics, and standards outlined by the profession and the School.
- Demonstrate the capacity to understand the experience and perspectives of other individuals or groups and be able use this empathic connection as a basis for productive professional relationships.
- Demonstrate the willingness and capacity to communicate effectively and respectfully in all their professional interactions.
- Demonstrate a willingness and capacity to express one’s ideas and feelings clearly.
- Demonstrate a willingness and capacity to be aware of the possible impact that personal communication on a social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, etc.) could have in a professional setting.
- Demonstrate a willingness and capacity to listen respectfully to others. Demonstrate sufficient skills in spoken and written English to successfully engage in all components of the program.
- Demonstrate the interpersonal skills needed to relate effectively and respectfully in all professional interactions. These include but are not limited to: compassion, altruism, integrity, and respect for and consideration of others.
- Interact respectfully and effectively with people in all capacities and hierarchical ranks within organizations.
- Comport oneself within the scope of one’s role as a social work student, adhering to the profession’s code of ethics and practicing within the scope of their developing competencies.
- Demonstrate the willingness and capacity to critically analyze one’s level of competence, making active use of feedback from relevant sources.
- Comport oneself as a professional in all arenas of the program.
- Professional comportment includes but is not limited to: timeliness, responsiveness, punctuality, reliability, and appropriate self-presentation. Be aware of and abide by the ethics, laws and policies of all arenas of the program (e.g., HIPPA, ADA, FERPA, etc.).
The academic program structure for master's students enrolled in the 27-month program consists of five academic sessions comprised of three successive 10-week summer sessions of coursework, with two intervening fall/winter sessions of field internships.
The entry session for first-year master’s students. This 10-week block of coursework is divided into two five-week terms: Term I & Term II. The courses take place on the Smith College campus.
The first field internship period for master’s students which follows Session I. Students are placed in an agency-based field internship for 30 hours per week, and spend an additional four hours per week on a community practice experience.
The second 10-week coursework block follows Session II. This 10-week block of coursework is divided into two five-week terms: Term I & Term II. The courses take place on the Smith College campus.
Students are placed in an agency-based field internship for 30 hours per week.
The final 10-week block of is divided into two five-week terms: Term I & Term II. The courses take place on the Smith College campus.
The academic program for advanced-standing status students consists of sessions III, IV & V.
This 10-week block of coursework is divided into two five-week terms: Term I & Term II. The courses take place on the Smith College campus.
Students are placed in an agency-based field internship for 30 hours per week.
The final 10-week block of is divided into two five-week terms: Term I & Term II. The courses take place on the Smith College campus.
- Satisfactory completion of three blocks of coursework (60 quarter-hours of courses), which includes a specified required curriculum.
- Satisfactory completion of two blocks of field internships (60 quarter-hours).
- Satisfactory completion of the community practice experience (6 quarter-hours).
- Satisfactory completion of two integrative seminars (4 quarter-hours).
- Satisfactory completion of two blocks of coursework (38 quarter-hours).
- Satisfactory completion of the field internship requirement (30 quarter-hours).
- Satisfactory completion of one integrative seminar (2 quarter hours).
- Students are required to attend all classes.
- In the event of any absence from class, it is a student’s responsibility to contact the instructor(s) to make arrangements for completing the missed work.
- Students may not miss more than 20 percent of any course and pass the course. In rare cases, a student who misses more than 20 percent of a course may be allowed to do an independent study to complete the course, only if:
- the cause of the absences are due to extraordinary circumstances beyond a student’s control, and
- the student’s progress in the course has been satisfactory. Whether or not a student is afforded this opportunity will be determined by the Associate Dean, in consultation with the instructor and the Chair of the relevant sequence. The grade for the course will be an incomplete until the independent study is completed.
Any request to an instructor for an extension to complete work for a course must be made prior to the due date of the assignment. All extensions must be granted in writing by the instructor. Requests for extensions to complete course work will only be granted in extraordinary circumstances, which include but are not limited to requests to accommodate a documented disability. The period of extensions, determined at the discretion of the instructor, may not exceed 5 days beyond the last day of the given term.
Any student who has been granted an extension beyond the end of the term will be given an Incomplete. If the work is not completed and submitted within the granted extension period, a final grade will be assigned based on all work that has been submitted by that date.
A final grade of Incomplete in field education can be given only in rare instances and only with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in consultation with the Director of Field Education.
Students are required to complete an evaluation for all courses and field internships in which they have been enrolled. Failure to complete the required evaluations by the deadline will result in:
- grade/transcript hold;
- registration hold; and
- diploma hold.
Using the official school grading policy, instructors are expected to assign grades on the basis of a critical and fair assessment of the student's work. It is the right and obligation of the instructor to assign the grade they deem appropriate.
Students are responsible for attending to academic performance criteria, to monitor their own learning performance against those criteria, to identify problems in meeting course criteria and to initiate timely efforts to address them.
Students must pass (P or MP) all required courses in order to graduate. Any student who fails a required course must repeat and pass that course in order to graduate from the program. See above for specific exceptions and stipulations.
A student's performance in each course shall be assessed on the basis of the grading criteria specified in the course syllabus and evidence of the following:
- mastery of course content
- ability to conceptualize
- timeliness of work
- class preparation
- critical thinking
- integration across the curriculum
- creativity and originality
- writing skills
- professional conduct in the classroom
All courses will be graded on a pass/marginal pass/fail basis, and will include narrative evaluations completed by the course instructor. Both the letter grades and narrative evaluations are kept indefinitely as part of the student's permanent record.
The letter grades are assigned in accordance with the categories defined below:
This designation will be used for performance reflecting an acceptable mastery of graduate level course content.
This designation will be used for performance of a marginal quality, falling below the mastery of graduate level course content. A marginal pass in this system should be viewed as the equivalent of the work in the "C" category in an A to F grading system.
This designation will be used for performance that fails to demonstrate creditable mastery of graduate-level course content.
This designation will be used for cases in which the student has not completed all assignments for a course but has obtained written permission, following the established procedures, for additional time to complete those assignments. The incomplete is a temporary grade designation.
This designation shall be used when a student withdraws from a course, following all established procedures, before the end of the term.
The grade for the field internship period is assigned by the Director of Field Work and is based upon the written evaluation submitted by the internship supervisor as well as feedback from the faculty field adviser. The field internship is graded on a pass/fail basis. Credit is granted only if the entire field internship period is completed satisfactorily. No partial credit is granted. A failing grade in field must be preceded by a formal Review by the Academic Performance Review Committee. Students are expected to abide by the procedures outlined in the Guidelines for the Field Internship.
The letter grades for field internships are assigned in accordance with the categories defined below:
This designation will be used for performance reflecting an acceptable mastery of specified field learning goals.
This designation will be used for performance which fails to demonstrate creditable mastery of specified field learning goals.
This designation will be used for cases in which the student has not completed all assignments for the internship but has obtained written permission, following the established procedures, for additional time to complete those assignments. The incomplete is a temporary grade designation.
This designation shall be used when a student withdraws from the internship, following all established procedures, before the end of the term. In rare cases, a W grade may be assigned at the discretion of the Associate Dean and the Director of Field Work.
Normally, grades may not be changed after they have been submitted by the instructor to the Office of Academic Services. Under rare circumstances, an instructor may submit a written request and explanation to the Chair and Associate Dean for a change of grade.
- The petition must be submitted to the ADAA in writing no later than seven (7) days following the publication of the grade by the Office of Academic Services.
- If the ADAA determines that the School's grading policies have been followed, the student shall be so notified.
- If the ADAA determines that the School's grading policies have not been followed, the ADAA, in consultation with the appropriate sequence chair, will grant to the student a remedy which may include an opportunity for re-examination, submission of another paper/assignment, or the possibility of re-taking the course.
- Should, however, the ADAA determine that the circumstances were ambiguous in regard to the School's stated grading policies, the ADAA will refer the matter to the Academic Progress Review Committee, which will consider the case and make a recommendation back to the ADAA.
2. A student will be automatically dismissed from the School if the student:
- receives a Fail and three Marginal Passes, or two Fails, as a final grade in any courses;
- receives a third Marginal Pass in a required course (or a fourth Marginal Pass overall).
Students are responsible for selecting courses that meet the degree requirements and to ensure that they are properly registered in each course, following the School's established registration procedures. Students whose names do not appear on the final course enrollment lists will not receive credit.
The School reserves the right to reassign sections, make changes in course scheduling, bracket courses, or cancel elective courses if enrollment is insufficient. The School does not guarantee a student's first choice of elective courses.
Students may not change sections in required courses. The add/drop procedures are thus only applicable to elective courses.
Students may drop elective courses under the following conditions:
The course is an elective that is not required for graduation.
Withdrawing from courses
Ordinarily students cannot exceed the maximum number of credits but under unusual circumstances, a student may be allowed do so with permission of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
Students may obtain a final grade of W (withdrawal) between the drop deadline and the end of the second week of a summer term by submission of a signed withdrawal form to the Office of Academic Support Services. After that date, a student may not withdraw. It is the responsibility of students to ensure that they are meeting graduation requirements.
Students are not permitted to audit courses.
PR101 and PR102 are prerequisites for the First Year field internship. Students cannot progress to the First Year field internship without passing (P or MP) these prerequisite courses, except in exigent circumstances as determined by the Academic Adviser, Chair of the Practice sequence, Director of Field Education, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. See section on Grades Resulting in Status Change.
PR301 and PR302 are prerequisites for the Second Year field internship. Students cannot progress to the Second Year field internship without passing (P or MP) these prerequisite courses.
PR101 is a prerequisite for PR102, as is PR301 for PR302. Students cannot progress to PR102 or PR302 without passing (P or MP) its prerequisite course.
Students must successfully complete each field internship period (Session II or IV) as a prerequisite to enrollment in the subsequent summer academic session (Session III or V). Students who do not successfully meet all their field requirements by the posted due dates, unless an extension in writing has been granted by the director of field work, will not be permitted to progress to the subsequent academic term.
In order to progress to the second year of the program, students must pass the community practice experience.
Up to 12 transfer credits may be awarded for courses completed with a grade of B or above from an accredited graduate school of social work. Students must send the transfer request form (available from the Office of Academic Support Services) with supporting documentation, including a syllabus and a statement as to how the course met SSW requirements, to the Office of Academic Support Services by the posted deadline in order for the request to be considered. The appropriate sequence chair, in consultation with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, will make the decision with regard to the transfer credit. No credit will be granted for previous work experience or life experience.
Some required courses may be waived if students can demonstrate that they have mastered the course content prior to enrollment. No credit is awarded for waived courses; credits must be made up by taking electives. The transcript will indicate when a waived course has met a requirement.
Students must submit waiver forms to the Office of Academic Support Services by the posted deadline in order for the request to be considered. The appropriate Sequence Chair has the discretion to waive a course requirement. The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, in consultation with the appropriate Chair, has the discretion to alter course selection after the posted deadline.
First summer students are required to meet with their Academic Adviser at least once over the course of the summer.
Students who encounter academic difficulties are encouraged to discuss learning challenges first with the instructor of the relevant course and next with their Academic Adviser if the difficulties extend across a number of courses. The Office of Disability Services is available to assist students who require specific accommodations due to disability.
Students should seek to address any challenges with the instructor of the relevant course or their field superviser. The Office of Disability Services is available to assist students who require specific accommodations due to disability. It is expected that the majority of issues impacting student learning will be addressed and resolved through academic and field advising.
The list below outlines the individuals and/or offices that may be involved in problem-solving with the student in the recommended stepwise pathways. Each number below (e.g., 1, 2, 3…) specifies the order to follow for addressing concerns in each area.
- Adviser/Course Coordinator/Sequence Chair
- Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Faculty Field Adviser
- Associate Director / Director of Field Education
- Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- CPE Adviser
- CPE Coordinator / Policy Chair
- Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Office of Academic Support Services
- Director, Office of Disability Services
- Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Head Resident
- Housing Coordinator (Facility issues)
- Associate Dean of Graduate Enrollment and Student Services (Interpersonal and other issues)
- General - Associate Dean of Graduate Enrollment and Student Services
- Marta Sotomayor Fellow / Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Course Coordinator / Sequence Chair
- Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Marta Sotomayor Fellow (anonymous consultation at any point in process)
- Faculty/Marta Sotomayor Fellow
603 ACADEMIC PROGRESS REVIEW
serious concerns about a student’s academic progress are brought to a student’s attention;
expectations, supports, and relevant timelines for amelioration of the concerns are established;
updates on student progress are reviewed;
and a range of possible outcomes for the student are reviewed as a result of the Academic Progress Review process.
An Academic Consultation is the first of the two steps of the Academic Progress Review process. The second step is the Review. The Consultation should precede a Review except in cases of serious personal or professional misconduct. The Consultation typically results in the development of an Action Plan outlining expectations and timelines for students, advisers, supervisors, and/or administrators. The Review is a deliberation phase that may result in one or more of a number of possible outcomes, including but not limited to, dismissal from the program.
The decision to convene a consultation or a review is made by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in response to a request by a sequence Chair. The Chair is responsible for gathering written reports from key people regarding the areas of concern and extending requests to participate in the review.
Serious issues of personal or professional misconduct move directly to Review, the 2nd step, of the Academic Progress Review process.
The following procedures will guide the Consultation process:
a)The chair of the sequence or designate will facilitate the consultation meeting.
b) The meeting will result in one of three outcomes:
- Action steps articulated for the organization or school. No substantive action steps identified for the students. In this case, the Consultation is considered closed for the student.
- Action steps identified for the student, supervisor and/or adviser. In this case, the School will work with the adviser and/or supervisor or agency to resolve issues, and the student will be informed that if their progress issues remain unresolved, it may result in moving to the Review phase of the Academic Progress Review process. The Action Plan should have a clear end date, no later than May 31st, by which a final determination of progress is made.
- Action steps articulated for the student only, with no substantive action steps identified for the organization or School. In this case, the student will be informed that if their progress issues remain unresolved, it may result in moving to the Review phase of the Academic Progress Review process. The Action Plan should have a clear end date, no later than May 31st, by which a final determination of progress is made.
d) The Action Plan will be drafted for the review of all parties. All parties should provide feedback within a reasonable time frame, typically one week. The Chair of the curricular sequence will hold final responsibility for the content of the Action Plan. If any party continues to be in disagreement with an aspect of the Action Plan, they should submit their concern in writing. This will be appended to the Action Plan and taken into consideration through the check-in phase to the conclusion of the consultation phase.
e) At the end of the period specified in the Action Plan, the relevant adviser will submit a written report to the Associate Dean summarizing the progress made on the Action Plan on or before May 1st. In developing the Action Plan Update Summary, the adviser should consider the following sources of information:
- Input from instructor and student regarding the issues outlined in the Action Plan with attention to individual level and structural issues;
- Where relevant, monthly field narratives and field evaluation forms to date in the current internship;
- Relevant correspondence; and Independent information that the student may submit.
- The Action Plan is considered successfully accomplished and all issues resolved. In the case where there are student requirements, the Action Plan is considered concluded.
- The Action Plan should be renewed and continued; A timeframe must be specified for any continuation.
- An additional Consultation is indicated to further examine evolving issues. This may result in a modification to the Action Plan.
- The issues cannot be resolved thorough the Consultation process and a Review, stage 2 of the Academic Progress Review, should be convened.
- Personal and/or professional conduct of a student that calls for a Review process without an intervening consultation includes, but is not limited to, such matters as the following:
- Egregious violations of the National Association of Social Work (NASW) Code of Ethics.
- Harassing, coercing, verbally abusing, or intimidating any persons the student encounters in any arena of the Program, including classroom, internship, and the larger school community.
- Unauthorized or improper use of college, school and/or internship agency services, equipment, and facilities, including and not limited to computers, email or web addresses, social media platforms, and telephones.
- All forms of dishonesty including cheating, knowingly furnishing false information to the college, school, or internship agency, any alteration or misuse of college, school, or internship agency documents, records, or instruments of identification.
- Improper disclosure through electronic or other means, of protected information and/or information designated as confidential that the student encounters in their role as a student and/or as a member of the school/college community.
- Theft of or intentional damage to property of the school, college, internship agency or of members and visitors of the above.
- Physical abuse or harm or threat of physical harm or abuse to any persons that the student encounters in any arena of the program, including classroom, internship, and the larger school community.
- Plagiarism, defined as presenting all or parts of another’s work product as one’s own.
- A violation of the Smith College Policy on Substance Use and Abuse.
- A violation of the Smith College Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures or Smith College Sexual Assault Policy.
Any given Review will be attended by a subsection of the Standing Committee, and by others who will be invited by the Chair of the Standing Committee to present information regarding the Review.
Members of the Standing Committee include:
- The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs or designee–Chair
- Curricular sequence Chairs – Field, HBSE, Policy, Practice, Research
- A minimum of four additional Resident Faculty members who will be appointed by the Dean each year will serve as a pool from which the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs may draw.
- A Sotomayor Fellow
- Two Resident Faculty members will be appointed by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs to participate in each review.
- Two students will serve on the committee each year. These student representatives are identified by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs with input from the Student Organization Executive Committee. Pending the affirmative decision of the student under review, one student representative will participate in each review as a non voting member.
Voting Committee Members at Review:
- The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- The Chair of the curricular sequence
- In circumstances in which the Chair cannot attend, a designee who is approved by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
- Two faculty from among the appointed Resident Faculty on the standing committee
Non-Voting Committee Member at Review:
- One student member (from among those on the Standing Committee) may attend the meeting and participate in all discussions. The student being reviewed by the Committee must give written permission for the student member of the standing committee to be present at the Review.
- The student member from the Standing Committee attending the Review will remain present and participate throughout the proceedings, including the deliberation process..
- A Sotomayor Fellow will attend the meeting and participate in all discussions as a non-voting member. The Sotomayor Fellow is charged with observing and attending to issues of fairness and structural matters relevant to the Review process. The Sotomayor Fellow who attends the Review proceeding is not present as an advocate for the student undergoing the Review. The student is free to consult privately with one of the other Sotomayor Fellows for support.
- The relevant adviser will be present in person, through conference call or visual medium.
- In a Review generated from the Field sequence, the relevant internship supervisor and/or training director may also be asked to participate by phone to address questions.
The student under Review may request in writing that a person of choice, who is a member of the School community in good standing, be present at the Review as a non-voting participant.
The written request from the student under Review serves as that student’s informed consent to the presence and participation of this supporting individual at the Review.
This individual will be present during the presentation/discovery portions of the Review but will not be present during the deliberation/adjudication of the committee.
If the student under Review chooses, the supporting individual may be present with the student under Review for the Committee’s presentation of the Review outcome.
The role of the supporting participant will be to help the student prepare for and present the student's point of view, ensure that the committee has considered the points the student has presented, and that the committee has followed its own stated guidelines. They may also make a statement on behalf of the student.
The supporting participant will sign a notice of confidentiality prior to the Review, indicating the participant’s agreement that no portion of the proceedings can be disclosed to any person or persons.
A Review is initiated in writing by the relevant adviser, sequence chair, or administrator (e.g., Associate Field Director) in consultation with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Written request for a Review is sent to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.
There are two pathways to a Review.
Personal and/or professional misconduct of a student that calls for a Review process without an intervening consultation. (See the non-exhaustive list of examples under Personal and Professional Misconduct Violations)
- Upon receipt of a preliminary request for a Review, the Chair of the sequence that generated a preliminary request for a Review is responsible for gathering written reports from key people relevant to the areas of concern. This information will be reviewed by the Chair and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs who will jointly determine whether a move to Review is warranted.
- Students written statement: The student may submit a written statement in response to the identified concerns within a timeframe specified by the Chair, typically 7-10 days.
- Documentation that was presented for the relevant Consultation request
- The Action Plan Update Summary letter
- If Field related:
- Any additional monthly field narratives
- Any additional relevant email correspondence
- Standard information about the learning environment, which may include:
- Agency description
- Number of years of relationship with the agency
- Log information about the agency focused on organization
- Student and FFA ratings of the organization
- Where possible, number of consultations/reviews conducted involving that agency/organization
- Demographic summary of students placed there in the past
- The Office of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (Chair of the Review committee) or designee will notify the student of the Review in writing and outline the areas of concern.
- The Office of the Associate Dean will notify the committee and the student of the date and location of the Review meeting which will be scheduled as swiftly as possible.
- The Associate Dean or designee will hold a pre-meeting with the student to overview the Academic Progress Review process and a post-meeting with the student to review next steps. The student may seek support from the Sotomayor Fellow or a faculty member through the process.
- The information identified above will distributed to participating Review committee members.
- The student may authorize the sharing of this information with other key members of the SSW community (e.g., Office of Disability Services, support participant)
Prior to the commencement of the Review, the voting members, and non-voting Sotomayor Fellow and student member (if participating) of the Review Committee shall meet to define the function, focus, and terms of the Review.
The Review will commence with the student presenting their view of the situation (in a specified amount of time), followed by comments, questions, and discussion from other participants.
Deliberations will be conducted only by the voting members, Sotomayor Fellow, and non-voting student member (if participating) of the Review Committee.
Notification of Outcome
The student is informed by the Chair of the process, accompanied by one or more members of the Standing Committee, of the outcome. Possible outcomes include but are not limited to the list below.
No action, which means that the Committee determines that the student under Review may continue in good standing.
Warning, or a reprimand, which becomes part of the student’s official record but is not considered a formal disciplinary action.
Additional work such as writing extra papers, or accumulating extra credits in order to graduate.
Probation, for a period to be specified by the Committee, with or without conditions, which is intended to serve as a serious warning to students whose performance and/or conduct give cause for concern. The student will be relieved from probation if, at the end of the set period of time, satisfactory conduct, as outlined by the Committee, has been maintained. Failure to meet the conditions of probation is a serious matter, and will ordinarily result in mandatory leave or dismissal.
Mandatory leave which requires that the student not register for a specified period of time and is recorded on the student’s permanent transcript.
Dismissal, an action taken in the most serious cases, which ends a student’s connection with the School and is recorded on the student’s permanent transcript.
A combination of sanctions is also authorized.
At the conclusion of the Review, the Chair of the Committee will meet with the student under Review to inform the student of the committee's findings and decisions. A written letter from the Chair of the Review Committee will serve as a summary document. The Summary document which will be sent to the reviewed student, members of the Review Committee who participated in the Review, and in field-related reviews, to the Chair and Associate Director of Field and to the Dean of the School will include:
Information on the notice of the Review;
the reason for the Review;
the names of the Review Committee members and presenters who participated in the Review;
the Committee’s decisions and the recommended sanctions;
the salient facts the Committee relied upon in making its decisions, including information regarding outcomes from the summary of the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) as applicable.
All deliberations of the Review Committee are held in private and are to be treated as confidential by all those participating in the Review. Information regarding the activities of the Committee and/or its decision making process should be kept as confidential and only shared with School and College employees who have a legitimate educational need to know; moreover, such information should not be shared with external entities except where deemed necessary (e.g., where supervisor support is required to meet the educational goals in a Corrective Action Plan, among other possibilities) as described above in the Notification of Review Outcomes, or if legally required (e.g., in response to a valid subpoena).
For policy regarding requests to withdraw in light of an upcoming Review, see section on Withdrawal from the Program. For policy regarding requests to take a leave of absence in light of an upcoming Review, see section on Leave of Absence.
Any decision by the Academic Performance Review Committee can be appealed to the Dean, whose decision shall be final. The following procedures regarding appeals shall govern.
The student Reviewed, any member of the Academic Performance Review Committee, and any other participant of the Review who believes the Committee did not follow its procedures as delineated in this Handbook may appeal to the Dean in writing within seven (7) days after the date of the written notice of the Committee’s decision to the student is issued by the Chair of the Committee. The Dean’s decision shall be final.
Students in good standing may apply in writing to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for a leave of absence on an individual basis for any personal reason (including medical and parental leave), at any point in the program.
Leave is generally granted for a one-year period, which may be renewed for a period not to exceed a total of three years.
To initiate reinstatement to the program, a student must request in writing to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs by January 5 of the year the granted leave expires.
To request extension for the leave of absence, a student must request in writing to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs by January 5 of the year the granted leave expires.
A student who fails to comply with the terms of the leave will be withdrawn from the school.
The Progress Review Committee may mandate a leave of absence. If a student refuses the mandatory leave, the Committee will decide whether to dismiss the student or to allow the student to withdraw from the program.
Decisions about completion of the community practice experience or the thesis will be made independently. Fees may apply. An I (incomplete) may also be granted in the circumstance where the student is allowed to continue work on the community practice experience or the thesis, in which case an I will remain permanently on the record in the term in which the leave was granted. A final grade will be recorded in the term during which the work was completed.
In rare and exigent circumstances including, but not limited to emergencies and other crises that affect the immediate ability of the student to demonstrate the essential attributes and abilities outlined in the section on Essential Attributes and Abilities, the Dean or Associate Dean may require a leave of absence of any student.
A student who has been on a required leave of absence adjudicated by the Dean’s Office and wishes to be reinstated to the program, will be required to undergo a Review by the Academic Performance Review Committee who will determine the student’s readiness to be reinstated.
If a student voluntarily leaves the program for any reason, they must immediately request a change of status with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs’ office (for a withdrawal or a leave of absence). If the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs’ office does not receive a written request for a leave of absence within two weeks of their final day in the internship, the student will automatically be withdrawn from the School.
- Any student considering a voluntary leave of absence from the field internship for any reason, must be in contact with the supervisor, Faculty Field Adviser and Director or Associate Director of Field to develop a sound termination plan holding client care central. There are no partial field credits granted for students who do not complete the field internship.
A student who has withdrawn from the School and who seeks to return to the program must reapply to the School.
A student who is readmitted to the School will be granted credit for successfully completed academic units taken previously in the program only if no more than three years have elapsed since the date of the original withdrawal. This three-year period would include a leave of absence if one has been granted. However, given the special need for continuity between the academic and practice components of the program, in specific cases where students have withdrawn having completed only the first academic summer session it shall be left to the discretion of the committee on admission whether a student readmitted to the program would be required to repeat the first academic summer or could re-enter the program at the beginning of the fall internship period.
If a student whose academic work is in good standing withdraws from the School, the official record of the School will indicate "Withdrawn."
If a student withdraws with the permission of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs after an Academic Performance Review has been called but before the Review has been held, the official record of the School will indicate "Withdrawn."
If a student withdraws without the permission of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs after an Academic Performance Review has been called but before the Review has been held, the official record of the School will indicate "Withdrawn Pending Review."
If a student withdraws while on probationary status the official record will indicate "Withdrawn on Probationary Status."
The record of enrollment for field-related courses of a student who withdraws from the School in the first two weeks of field internship will be removed from the record; this includes courses 200, 220, 400 and 480.
Unless contraindicated by a decision of the Academic Performance Standing Committee or the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, a student who is granted a leave of absence during the field internship will be considered withdrawn from the field course (200 or 400), from the research course (480) and/or from Community Practice Project (220), and a grade of W (withdrawn) will appear on the transcript. No partial credit is given for incomplete field work.
Upon return from a leave of absence (LOA), the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (ADAA) will configure the remainder of the student's course requirements in order to be consistent with current M.S.W. program policies. If there have been changes in graduation requirements while the student has been on LOA, the ADAA has the discretion to create alternative curricular structures that are consistent with faculty policy to meet the student's graduation requirements.
An incomplete may be granted in the circumstance where the student is allowed to continue in a field internship in the next winter term after Review by Academic Performance Review Committee.
The Smith College School for Social Work reserves the discretionary right to place on probation any student from the School for failure to maintain satisfactory academic standing and/or personal or professional conduct standards.
A student can be placed on probation by a decision of the Academic Performance Review Committee, which will specify the terms of the probation. In exigent circumstances the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs or the Dean may place a student on probation. The terms for completing probation will be adjudicated by and Academic Performance Review.
If a student withdraws from the School while on probationary status, the record will indicate "Withdrawn on Probationary Status," in the case of field work. There is no probationary period for academic work under the Pass/Marginal Pass/Fail system.
- The School reserves the discretionary right to dismiss any student from the School for failure to maintain satisfactory academic standing and/or personal or professional conduct standards.
- In cases of dismissal, fees will be refunded as stated in the section on refund policy. Student financial aid will be canceled. The student record will indicate "Dismissed."
Any student leaving the SSW on a temporary or permanent basis will be offered an exit interview to be arranged by the School and conducted by an independent agent.
This statement is issued by Smith College School for Social Work in accordance with the United States Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) as amended. The purpose of the act is to give students and former students access to their official records at the college, to provide an opportunity to correct inaccurate or misleading statements and to ensure that records are not released to unauthorized persons without the consent of the student.
According to the terms of the act, access may be provided to administrative officers and members of the resident and adjunct faculty who have legitimate interest; to certain specified agents of the government for the purposes of enforcement and study; to military personnel for recruitment purposes; and to other educational agents and institutions in connection with applications for admission and requests for financial aid. All authorized persons outside the college who request access will be required to file a written, signed statement of purpose; this statement will be kept on file and will be made available for inspection only to the student upon request.
Transcripts of or information concerning student records will be released to other persons outside the college only with the written consent of the student or upon subpoena, in which case the student will be notified. The act stipulates that the student's written consent indicates which records are to be released, the reasons for such release and to whom the copies are to be released. A copy of the material to be released may be requested by the student.
Certain information, designated as "directory information" may be released without consent. At Smith College, this information includes the following: name, home address (while in college), college address and telephone, email address, dates of attendance, major, degrees and awards, pictures, extracurricular activities (if known) and most recent previously attended college/s. A student or former student who is unwilling to have this information given to inquirers without consent should notify the Office of Academic Support Services annually in writing. In the case of former students, the college reserves the right to verify degrees.
Students' official records include records, files, documents and other materials containing information directly related to a student that are maintained by the college. They do not include notes kept by instructors, advisers, administrative personnel or Deans for their own use and available to them only; such notes are maintained by individual administrators and are destroyed when no longer relevant or useful.
In communications with parents, we will assume that most students are not dependents. The School for Social Work will respect the privacy of the student and not disclose information from student education records without the prior consent of the student. At the request of the student, such information will be provided to parents and guardians.
Student records at Smith are described below. Procedures for students who wish to consult their records are as follows:
Submit a request in writing to the Office of Academic Support Services; the record will be available for inspection five work days after the date of the request.
Requests to see records in the Career Development Office or Office of Disability Services should be made to each respective office.
Students who have questions about their immunization records and the use of them are referred directly to Smith College Health Services
Questions concerning the files or requests for correction should be made in writing and left with the School for Social Work Office of Academic Support Services or the director of the Career Development Office, in the case of CDO files, to be brought to the attention of the official in charge of the particular record. If the official in charge is not able or willing to make the correction requested, the case shall be brought to the registrar, Associate Dean and Dean.
Permanent academic records are maintained online, and hard copies are maintained in the Office of Academic Support Services in Lilly Hall or in College Archives. They are available to the student and to administrative officers and members of the resident and adjunct faculty of the School who have legitimate need for access.
The official transcript includes name, dates of attendance and notations of leave of absence or withdrawal, notation of probation, course numbers, titles, credits, grades, internship agencies and grades, thesis title, degree and date. Any credits transferred from other colleges toward the social work degree are also listed. Copies of transcripts ordered by students to be sent outside the college contain this information.
The permanent student file includes:
- Narrative evaluations and grades submitted by summer teaching faculty;
- Student learning plan for field internship;
- Faculty Field Adviser field visit reports;
- Community Practice Experience evaluation;
- Supervisor's final field evaluation for each year in the field;
- Research project evaluation from student's research adviser;
- Faculty Field Adviser’s final summary of student's field internships;
- Letters of nomination and/or records of thesis awards;
- Final transcript;
- Summary document of Academic Performance Review (if applicable) and documentation of any subsequent resolution of sanctions arising from the Review, if applicable (see 601.5 - Notification of the Review Outcomes).
For students receiving financial aid, the Student Financial Services Office maintains a financial aid file containing the following information:
Student's application form and all application materials;
Financial analysis of the student's application;
Award letters to the student from the Committee on Financial Aid;
Source-of-Award letters to the student from the Committee on Financial Aid;
Loan application material;
Copies of student's and parents' (if applicable) tax forms;
Student Agreement/Title IV Authorization Form.
This information is available only to the members of the Student Financial Services Office and the Committee on Financial Aid. Under the Rights and Privacy Act, the School cannot release to a student that portion of the financial aid application containing parental financial information, the financial analysis, or copies of the parents' tax forms. Information on students receiving financial aid is kept for five years after the student's graduation or departure from the School.
The Office of the Dean maintains materials on file pertaining to student consultation, reviews, leave of absence, and withdrawal.
Field placement forms and materials are maintained by the field work department until the student's graduation or departure from the School.
Students may access these files by request; these materials are otherwise only used by SSW faculties relevant to the field placement process and except as noted above are kept until the student graduates or permanently leaves the program.
This information is accessible to disability services office professional staff and Deans:
- Disability identification form;
- Documentation of disability which has been submitted by the student;
- Correspondence with the student;
- Correspondence with faculty and other administrative offices, which has been authorized by the student.
- Release of Information Informed Consent Form
Any student who officially withdraws from the School according to the procedures outlined under the section entitled "Withdrawal," is dismissed from the School, or who goes on a leave of absence will have their fees and aid, including all institutional and federal student aid, prorated using the same methodology prescribed by the Department of Education for federal student aid as follows:
The official date of withdrawal or leave will be used to determine what percent of the billing payment period the student has attended using a daily proration schedule. If the student leaves within the first 60 percent in the billing cycle, fees and aid will be prorated accordingly and any unused federal funds will be returned to the Department of Education. If, after the necessary proration is completed there is a credit balance from a direct payment made by the student, those funds will be returned to the student. If the withdrawal or leave occurs after the 60 percent point in the billing cycle, all charges and aid will be considered to have been used and no proration will occur or aid returned.
Financial assistance is available to students in the master's program. Awards are based on financial need, with an additional commitment to those who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to working with diverse populations and issues of racial equity. Because resources are limited, students are expected to use personal, family and loan resources to the fullest extent possible. The School is not able to meet full expenses for a student's graduate program. Every effort is made to assist students in obtaining educational bank loan funds.
To maintain maximum objectivity and standardized criteria in analyzing each student's financial circumstances, the School utilizes the FAFSA Form; for more information go to: Tuition and Financial Aid.
Financial aid awards are made for a 12-month period and students must submit a second application for assistance for their second year of graduate study. Although every effort will be made to continue financial assistance, the School can make no guarantee that this will be possible.
Because of limited financial aid resources, students generally are expected to finance their final summer session through educational loans or other personal resources.
If a student departs from the School, any financial aid award will be adjusted to be consistent with the Refund Policy.
Financial aid payments will be discontinued for any student who departs from the School.
Returning from a leave of absence or repeating a portion of the program:
Students who will return to the program from a leave of absence or who will repeat a portion of the program should check with Student Financial Services regarding tuition charges.
Students will not be permitted to register, continue in field internships or enroll in post-residency advising if bills are not paid. All college bills must be paid before a student will be granted a diploma or an official transcript.
Should the School submit a student bill to a collection agency, the student will be subject to collection charges in addition to the outstanding balance (approximately one-third of the balance).
Each student is responsible for all materials signed out from the library in their name and will be charged a replacement fee in addition to the cost of any material that is not returned. All materials must be returned to the library and fees paid before a student may receive a diploma or an official transcript.
Other miscellaneous fees will be charged to a student's account, if applicable. All miscellaneous fees must be paid before a student may receive a diploma or an official transcript.
A late fee of 1.25 percent per month (15 percent per annum) will be assessed for balances that remain unpaid past the due date.
Students will not be permitted to register, continue in field internships or enroll in post-residency advising if they have not been cleared by Student Financial Services. All school bills must be paid before a student will be granted a diploma or receive an official transcript.
A post-residency fee will be charged for each term a student receives post-residency advising.
Pro-rated fees will be charged to students who are enrolled in less-than-half-time status and who continue to work in the field, on the thesis, or on the community practice experience. These fees will vary by circumstance.
Health insurance is mandatory for all full-time students. Students will be automatically enrolled in the School's health insurance plan, but may waive out of this plan if they have an alternative qualifying plan. Students must be enrolled at least 3/4 time in order to qualify for Smith's health insurance plan; if a student's status drops to less than 3/4 time their coverage will be discontinued.
Students who have their own coverage must provide the School with the following information: name and address of their insurance company and policy number.
For details on health insurance, costs and deadlines, go to Healthcare Resources.
The School for Social Work has on-campus mixed-gender housing available during the 10-week summer academic session in certain undergraduate dormitories for students who choose to live on campus. The Room and Board fee includes the assigned unit and twenty-one meals per week for the duration of the 10-week summer academic session. Each student is responsible for the full room and board fee, which will be charged to the student's account prior to the start of the academic session.
Any student who officially withdraws from the School according to the procedures outlined under the section entitled "Withdrawal," is dismissed from the School, or who goes on a leave of absence will have their room and board costs prorated using the same methodology as detailed in the section entitled "Refund Policy." Any student who indicates they will be living on campus and subsequently informs the Housing Coordinator that they will not be utilizing on-campus housing will have their room and board costs prorated using the following schedule: 100% refunded before May 1st, 90% refunded from May 1st to the first day of classes, 80% refunded by the first Friday of the summer academic session, no refunds of Room and Board costs will be made after the first week of classes. Exceptions to the refund schedule may be considered for extraordinary circumstances.
Any student who is assigned on campus housing must agree to and abide by the terms of the Housing Contract.
Social media includes many widely used forms of electronic communication (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, microblogs, websites, etc.) allowing users to create online communities and to share information, messages, and other content. It offers quick and effective ways to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues. It is vibrant and immediate. It also offers many ways to make new connections and has been widely used to promote political advocacy and social justice. Social media can be a valuable part of professional and personal activities, but must be used thoughtfully and in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics (2008), within the confines of agency policies, the policies of the Smith College School for Social Work, and all local, state and federal laws.
When used in relation to one's professional activities, social media deserves some careful consideration. There are legal risks, ethical risks and pragmatic risks along with social media's many merits. Be mindful that once information is posted on social media it may be impossible to delete. The technology for capturing online information is already well developed. You may not be able to retract or correct any information you post - forever. Recent newspaper reports indicate that employers are increasingly checking job applicant's social media sites and using the data they find for formal and informal decision-making. Both your personal and professional information may be checked by employers and others.
Learning about, carefully setting and regularly reviewing the privacy settings and other features of any social media you use is wise for all professionals. A simple search will identify many sites to help guide you about using social media programs. However, bear in mind that many of these sites are business oriented and assume you mainly wish to build referral traffic. Social workers must carefully distinguish their personal and professional uses of social media. For social workers, one helpful starting point is the University of Texas at Austin's "How to Manage Your Social Media Privacy Settings" online at https://identity.utexas.edu/everyone/how-to-manage-your-social-media-privacy-settings. It is wise to review your online presence as a client or employer might do.
Several ethical obligations must be kept in mind. First, discussion or disclosure of client information without documented client consent is prohibited by law, institutional policies and social work ethics. Federal HIPPA regulations, state licensure and practice laws and agency policies all prohibit disclosure of client information to others not directly charged with the client's care. Professional advice should never be offered outside an agency or practice setting. Social workers should always practice in their areas of competence in defined relationships to clients (NASW Code of Ethics, Section 104).
Second, social work professional ethics also prohibit discussion of client information outside of direct work activities. It is inappropriate to refer to clients, client situations, supervisors or field agencies on social media regardless of efforts to restrict or limit access to the information. The NASW Code of Ethics, Section 1.07 (i) states that "Social workers should not discuss confidential information in any setting unless privacy can be ensured. Social workers should not discuss confidential information in public or semipublic areas such as hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, and restaurants." Social media are effectively public or semipublic locations. The Code also states that "(k) Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients when responding to requests from members of the media." Even restricted access social media sites may be viewed as media outlets. If you are speaking for an agency or group, (and only ever with explicit written permission and direction from that group) you should use their name to be transparent to other users. Only use your institutional affiliation when you are making professional postings, never for personal ones.
Third, the NASW Code of Ethics, Section 2.01 states that "(a) Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and should represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues, and (b) Social workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in communications with clients or with other professionals." Postings on social media about other professionals and about professional matters should be respectful, fair, accurate, and without undue criticism, including field agencies and their personnel. Your colleagues deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as social workers treat our clients. Hasty social media postings may violate these standards, make the evidence of such an infraction widely known, and may be difficult or impossible to undo.
Agencies and institutions have the authority to ask social media organizations to refuse, or to terminate, social media groups that use their institutional names. The reputation and social 'face' of an institution may be enhanced or undermined by social media sites, and thus these agencies and institutions have rights to limit how their names and images are used. Many names and images are copyrighted or trademarked. Using such names and images may violate the law. Always ask for approval before using institutional or agency names in online posts. If you need to make an institutional connection, ask permission from the Director or Dean before making any post including institutional names, content or images.
Finally, any academic process or information that is considered confidential should not be shared publicly on social media. This includes, but is not limited to professional review proceedings or information about other students' professional performance.
Failing to use professional judgment when using social media may harm you, colleagues and clients. Professional conduct on social media deserves appropriate care. Failing to meet the policies of Smith College School for Social Work, laws, agency policies, NASW Code of Ethics and can lead to consultation, review and potentially dismissal from the program. It may also lead to external actions through professional sanction or legal suit. Use social media wisely and with care when it has any link to your professional activities.
Information from the School will be communicated to students via the Smith email account. It is the student's responsibility to check this account on a regular basis; students will be held accountable for this information.
Smith College School for Social Work students are obligated to know and adhere to the policies of Smith College.