In light of COVID-19, and ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Professor and Associate Dean of Research Rogério M. Pinto spoke to MLive about both the timing and the power of this moment of unrest. “Protests can be a powerful strategy to enact change, and already the movement has scored some results. That includes having criminal charges filed against all four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death and upgrading of charges from third- to second-degree homicide for the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck. “The simple fact they’ve been charged already is a phenomenal result.”
"We must move past indecision to action...If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Dear Social Work Community,
In the past few days, as we listened the news we felt appalled at the at the knee-choke-hold that killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, while the nation was still reeling from the brazen murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and the killings of Breonna Taylor and Sean Reed. And all of this in the midst of the racial disparities of the COVID pandemic, in which Black and Latino Americans are killed disproportionately due to effects of underlying social inequality in income, in nutrition and in health care.
On Thursday, May 28, 2020, Sidney Arrington, MSW student, raised concerns clearly, painfully and with an acknowledgement that our social work community can and should do more. Her courageous efforts inspired students, faculty and staff. We apologize to Sidney that it was she and not us who spoke first.
We admire the collective spirit of our community that compels and validates the importance of action, leadership and solutions. We are grateful for the supportive responses and the calls for action.
We are working diligently on the School's call to action. These include:
Yes, we have been an academically remote program for several months. However, offering classes remotely is not a justification for emotional insensitivity or a lack of action. Not now. Not ever. Our School, the University of Michigan School of Social Work, must take a strong stance protesting these unjust deaths.
We encourage our community — students, staff, alumni and faculty — to provide suggestions for actions we should take now and in the future. We call on the leadership group of students, faculty and staff to construct a clear and visible strategy to be responsive and sensitive. We will work to activate every member of our community to take a stand against the structures that perpetuate and tolerate killings of Black Americans. And Asian Americans. And Latinx Americans.
This is our work as social workers. Students, thank you for calling us to action.
Lynn Videka, Dean
Tim Colenback, Assistant Dean for Student Services
Larry M. Gant, Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program
Lorraine M. Gutiérrez, Associate Dean for Educational Programs
Professor Karla Goldman’s article in Forward discusses how the economic disruptions of the coronavirus add to the woes that have been threatening the viability of the historic institutions and programs that support Reform Judaism.
Associate Professor Shawna Lee’s research is cited in a New York Times article that discusses how the tremendous changes wrought by the pandemic can mimic, mask or amplify depression-like feelings. According to the research she conducted in April, a third of respondents reported symptoms of depression including fatigue, insomnia and feelings of hopelessness.
The recent APA Journals Article Spotlight included Assistant Professor Lisa Fedina’s article exploring how economic factors related to housing, food and health care affect survivors of sexual assault.
Assistant Professor Katrina Ellis is part of a team of U-M researchers evaluating the programs at the Silver Center, which offers enrichment and educational classes via phone to help adults 60 years old or older stay connected. While the program predates the pandemic, it has become especially timely for older adults who may have little or no access to technology and are isolated at home. The U-M team will evaluate how these activities may have helped participants cope with the isolation and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We will learn what went well, what can be improved and how we could expand the program,” Ellis said. “This can bring attention to new ways of delivering services to older adults. We also hope that it increases awareness of community resources and opportunities for learning new things.”
During times of uncertainty and crisis, people come together to support one another. COVID-19 is a new test of our collective strength. The Community Engagement team and the Office of Field Education have created a webpage that includes a list of volunteer opportunities to support community members and organizations as well as additional resources.
"The partnership, collegiality and collaboration between the Community Engagement Team, the Office of Field Education, and our students is an extraordinary example of teamwork at its best in this time of crisis. Collectively, we have developed and identified numerous opportunities for our students to be able to support our communities and those in need as we all confront the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes me proud to be a social worker," said Assistant Dean of Field Education Dan Fischer.
"Coming together like this provides a teachable moment. When there is a difficult or emergency situation, we can work together to share resources and come up with answers. No one person has to figure everything out on their own. The COVID-19 virus has brought lots of uncertainty, but the School of Social Work community can do its part to uncover and respond to needs as they arise," said Professor and Director of Community Engagement Trina Shanks.
Professor Luke Shaefer has been named a 2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. The two-year award provides $200,000 in support of his project, “Deepening Our Understanding of America's Most Vulnerable Communities.” Shaefer is also the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the director of U-M’s Poverty Solutions.
The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program was established in 2015 and provides philanthropic support for high-caliber scholarly research in the humanities and social sciences that addresses important and enduring issues confronting our society. Shaefer is one of 27 fellows named to the 2020 class. The criteria prioritize the originality and potential impact of a proposal, as well as a scholar’s capacity to communicate the findings with a broad audience.
“I am deeply honored to be named one of the Carnegie Fellows,” says Shaefer. “The fellowship will help me and my collaborators immensely in our work to more deeply understand disadvantage in this country and help direct resources and action to where they’re needed most.”
Associate Professor David Córdova was selected to serve on the editorial board of Emerging Adulthood, an interdisciplinary and international journal focusing on advancements in theory, methodology and empirical research in transition-age youth.
Janelle Goodwill, Joint PhD student in Social Work and Psychology, successfully defended her dissertation "A multi-method analysis of stigma, social support, and suicide ideation among Black college students." Her committee consisted of Daphne Watkins, Jacqueline Mattis (co-chairs), Robert J. Taylor and Myles Durkee.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106