How schools of social work stifle conservative views in the name of diversity

Here’s a great story from The Weekly Standard. It’s hard for me to slice it up so I can make the point of the article, but I’ll try, and if you like it, you go read the whole thing.

The author Devorah Goldman says this:

“I can’t have you participate in class anymore.”

I was on my way out of class when my social welfare and policy professor casually called me over to tell me this. The friendliness of her tone did not match her words, and I attempted a shocked, confused apology. It was my first semester at the Hunter College School of Social Work, and I was as yet unfamiliar with the consistent, underlying threat that characterized much of the school’s policy and atmosphere. This professor was simply more open and direct than most.

I asked if I had said or done anything inappropriate or disrespectful, and she was quick to assure me that it was not my behavior that was the problem. No: It was my opinions. Or, as she put it, “I have to give over this information as is.”

I spent the rest of that semester mostly quiet, frustrated, and missing my undergraduate days, when my professors encouraged intellectual diversity and give-and-take. I attempted to take my case to a higher-up at school, an extremely nice, fair professor who insisted that it was in my own best interest not to rock the boat. I was doing well in his class, and I believed him when he told me he wanted me to continue doing well. He explained to me that people who were viewed as too conservative had had problems graduating in the past, and he didn’t want that to happen to me. I thought he was joking .  .  . until I realized he wasn’t.

[…]Two hundred thirty-five master’s programs in the United States are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which requires schools to “advocate for human rights and social and economic justice” and to “engage in practices that advance social and economic justice” as part of their curricula. As Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), points out, the CSWE standards act as “an invitation for schools to discriminate against students with dissenting views.”

Lukianoff discovered the abusive culture fostered by CSWE after several students complained about their treatment in social work programs. Emily Brooker, a Christian student at Missouri State University’s School of Social Work in 2006, was asked by her professor to sign a letter to the Missouri legislature in favor of homosexual adoption. When she explained that doing so would violate her religious beliefs and requested a different assignment, she was subjected to a two-and-a-half-hour interrogation by an ethics committee and charged with a “Level Three Grievance” (the most severe kind). Brooker was not permitted to have an advocate or a tape recorder with her at the ethics meeting, during which she was told to sign a contract promising that she would “close the gap” between her religious beliefs and the values of the social work profession. At the risk of having her degree withheld, Brooker acquiesced.

Bill Felkner, a student at Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work, was instructed to lobby the Rhode Island legislature for several policies he did not support. In addition, RIC’s policy internship requirements for graduate students included forcing students to advance policies that would further “progressive social change.” When Felkner accepted an internship in the policy department of Republican Rhode Island governor Don Carcieri’s office, he received a letter from Lenore Olsen, chair of the Social Work Department, informing him that he had violated their requirements and could no longer pursue a master’s degree in social work policy.

[…]And so I sat, zombie-like, through the strange and sad reality that is groupthink for two long years. In a publicly funded school in America’s greatest city, I was censored, threatened, and despised by my teachers. I left school after graduation feeling that something had been stolen from me. I wanted to go back and argue with my teachers some more, ask them, for example, whether a description of Reagan’s economic policies as “nightmarish” in a textbook could be considered unbiased in any context. I wished I had stood up more often for my white male friends in class, asked people if they really believed that Band-Aids that were not exactly fair and not exactly dark in color were racist. Realizing that I had been awarded a diploma in part because I kept my opinions to myself was deeply unsatisfying.

Conservative students need to be aware that they are likely to face discrimination in social work programs on campus, and probably in many other programs as well. They will either have to silence themselves or change their views to be in compliance with secular leftist ideology. What’s even scarier, though, is when students who are raised in traditional evangelical homes go off to college and swallow secular leftist values uncritically. It always shocks me a little when I meet students who were raised in a married home with two evangelical parents and they tell me that they vote for Democrats. I just had a conversation this week with a young woman who claimed to be pro-life and pro-marriage who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. She is studying journalism, and I would bet that there are no conservative professors in her program. She told me that she voted for Obama because of environmentalism and Obamacare. She also expressed preference for big government over small government.

It’s definitely something to be aware of – the lack of critical thinking and respectful dialog in some of these programs. I’m going to be giving her a list of conservative news sites to read, like The Stream, The Weekly Standard, The Daily Signal, and so on. I wonder if she has ever read a conservative economist or journalist before… I’ll find out.

If you insist on going to programs that are more ideology than marketable skills, then expect to have to keep your mouth shut all the way through in order to graduate. And then after you graduate, whenever you get the chance, vote for smaller government, lower taxes, and more academic freedom laws that protect a diversity of views in the classroom. I also recommend donating to legal groups who defend basic liberties, such as Alliance Defending Freedom.

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