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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Mission Statement

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the School of Social Work envisions our role to be a catalyst and support system to students, staff and faculty for the purpose of cultivating a conscious community where every person feels affirmed, respected, valued and appreciated.

Our commitment to this work is rooted in an understanding that historical and present-day systems of oppression stemming from racism and the institution of slavery continue to permeate all levels of our society, and intersect with discrimination based on personal identities and social positionalities. We recognize our profession has not been historically and is not presently representative of the diversity of perspectives, experiences and backgrounds that make up Michigan, our nation and our world. As a profession and as a School, we must take ownership of our past and participate in envisioning a new path forward that centers anti-racist and anti-oppressive values, frameworks, and practices.

We believe it is both our individual and collective responsibility to develop critical awareness in order to embody diversity, equity, and inclusion principles within our school community and through social work practice.

Defining Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Diversity

Diversity is a representation and intersectionality of our collective and individual identities, positionalities, values, beliefs, and lived experiences. We acknowledge the importance of creating environments that take into account and respect all elements of human experience, and strive for empathic action at all times. The ability to navigate diversity, like practicing empathy, is a prosocial skill that can be developed over time with cultural humility, intentionality, and knowledge.

Equity

At the School of Social Work, our goal is to create conditions that allow all students, staff and faculty to thrive. Rather than treating every individual equally and identically, equity practice presumes diversity and requires ongoing action to identify and eliminate barriers that presently prevent the full, meaningful participation and inclusion of certain individuals and groups. To achieve this vision, equity calls for us to intentionally invest in programming and supports that nurture the strengths of people with underrepresented identities while also addressing their distinctive needs. The pursuit of equity requires for us to redistribute both power and resources within our social work practice, our school, and the systems in which we work.

Inclusion

Inclusion fosters a culture of belonging by bringing and empowering traditionally excluded voices into decision-making processes. Inclusion mandates the establishment of a balance of power and shared rights within a group, organization, or institution. Inclusive spaces are empowering environments where each voice is valued and supported to actively participate through purposeful, deliberate, and authentic efforts, while understanding that no one person is representative of an entire community.

Ways to Engage

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