Racism, discrimination, and diversity on campus are critical concerns for the KU School of Social Welfare’s faculty, staff, and students. Recent increased attention to these issues on KU’s campus signals the growing concern regarding the University’s overall climate and with students’ specific demands to reform KU’s response to the needs of minority students. We acknowledge and support those individuals who have had the courage to bring these issues up for scrutiny.
As a profession based in social justice, social work responds to discrimination on campus by standing with students of color, collaborating with stakeholders on campus and in the community to ensure that racism and discrimination are addressed, seeking the implementation of rigorous diversity strategies on campus, and advocating for policies that both support minority students and prevent future incidents. Our organizational mission and code of ethics prompts us to examine differences and commonalities and to work towards creating an environment that is characterized by support, safety, and inclusion.
Over the past several weeks, members of our community have shared their stories and have asked important questions. We hear you. We are committed to actively engaging in a safe and meaningful dialogue, providing an environment and atmosphere of equity and inclusion for our Social Welfare students and all students, and contributing to the ongoing conversations that are being held at every level of the institution. We will continue to listen to concerns, educate ourselves and our community, and partner in students’ academic endeavors.
In my four months as Dean, I have seen and felt an extraordinary sense of pride and community identity among Jayhawks. As we move forward in addressing racism, discrimination, and diversity, my hope is to use that pride to reach a place of collaboration and mutual understanding. These challenges cannot be solved without support, persistence, and resolve.
Paul Smokowski, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor