Amid chants of “fight the system,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “gun control,” a large group of School of Social Policy and Practice students and faculty stood outside of the Caster Building in the drizzling rain for the fifth annual on-campus SP2 rally.
The “SHOUT OUT,” led by SP2 Associate Director of Student Services Jenn Clinkscales, lasted for around 20 minutes before noon on March 28.
The rally celebrated both National Social Work Month and Women’s Month. The School of Social Policy and Practice has hosted the event every year in order to raise awareness and foster a sense of community among the students who strive to advance social impact, on local, national, and global scales.
SP2 Dean of Students Lina Hartocollis noted the terrific energy and said the rally was an opportunity to “educate folks a little bit, pique their interest at least in what social workers do, to let people know that we’re here as a profession and that we’re here on campus, working to try to help disadvantaged and marginalized people.”
"The rally is trying to get the general population to understand what social workers do because a lot of people don’t understand what our profession is about," SP2 student Ashley Cameron in the one-year Advanced Standing Master of Social Work Program said. “A lot of times people just think that we work with children when in actuality we’re in many areas.”
Toam Feldestein, another student in the program added that although social work intersects with many professions, there is little awareness of what social work is.
Jessica Bautista, the SP2 communications and Public Relations manager, agreed. “Social workers and policy reform advocates are in hospitals, schools, nonprofits, community development organizations, child welfare and human service agencies, mental health clinics, shelters," she said in an email.
The rally also marked the school's 110th year and the kick-off of their 2018 Class Gift Campaign, a yearly donation effort hoping to raise money that goes directly towards financial aid for incoming students. 90 percent of applicants to SP2 request and receive financial aid.
The SP2 school consists of around 500 students seeking master and doctoral degrees.
Bautista added that social workers research and work towards policy change for social issues, such as homelessness, mass incarceration, racial and economic inequity, LGBTQ rights, and xenophobia.
SP2 considers themselves the Social Justice School, Clinkscales said.
Participants held signs that read “Social Workers support the one in four women who are sexually assaulted” and “Social Workers fight racism, sexism, classism, and ageism.” Students and faculty handed out small flyers with details about social workers to passerby.
Clinkscales said that the “social climate right now is priming everyone to kind of be engaged.”
"It’s a hard job, but SP2 is full of remarkable people who rise to the occasion. Now, more than ever, the world needs our social change agents on the frontlines," Bautista said.