A Letter to Students, Staff, and Faculty of the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty of the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work,

A few months ago, someone I admire and respect for their stances on racial, social and economic justice used this word:  “apoplectic”, to describe how they felt.  I admit I had to look it up, because although I recognized the word, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was defined. I did and it resonated – extremely angry and furious.

The Grand Jury results on Breonna Taylor’s murder may not have surprised many people who have their bodies policed in ways White people haven’t experienced, but the hurt, pain, and outrage is real and renewed.

Between the results of the Grand Jury deliberations on Breonna Taylor’s murder, the recent shooting of a 13-YEAR OLD BOY in Salt Lake City, almost every day that goes by with an egregious, unjustifiable incident that erodes the path toward attainment of justice in our society, there is little question that the status quo is totally unacceptable.

The police chief in Salt Lake City spoke at a press conference and characterized the shooting of Linden Cameron as evidence of a “mental health crisis.” No. It is evidence of a policing crisis.

This is not going to be a long statement. I simply ask this, especially of my White colleagues, please don’t shut down when reading the words “Defund the Police.” Educate yourself on what this means. Encourage others to educate themselves instead of having a knee-jerk reaction. Consider the social work professional code of ethics as you form or solidify your position, and then find ways to take or continue to take action in support of your position. I recognize many of our students, faculty, staff reading this are already working on these issues and these goals.

If this is new for you, here are a few resources, but there are many more out there.  They are not hard to find.

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There are times when our advocacy can feel like it is not making a difference. I am a firm believer that it does. One critical piece of our advocacy is voting, but it shouldn’t begin or end there. That is an essential ingredient for change, but not a sufficient one.

I wish all of you some respite this weekend. Find comfort and renewed energy in your support system.  Reach out to ask for support from your numerous connections at the school when you need it.  We are here for you and for each other.

Kristen S. Slack, PhD
Professor, Interim Director, and PhD Program Chair