I’ll admit it: Before coming to UNC, I had been indoctrinated to accept the status quo. Seems harmless enough, right? That’s what I thought too. Then I got to the School of Social Work, sat in SOWO530 (Foundations of Social Welfare and Social Work), and had my mind blown for the rest of the semester (thanks again, Dr. Zerden! ). Inequalities and injustices had surrounded me all along, buffered by privilege that I have in various forms, and nobody else in my 16 years of formal education to that point had ever called them out. Nobody! From then on, the School taught me a beautiful lesson:
This has taken some practice for me, but I have pushed myself to explore things that others around me may be taking for granted (an added benefit of being the “fresh eyes” at a new field placement!). So far just this semester, I have caught myself questioning:
- Why there is no option to denote that a client is transgender on initial paperwork.
- The assertion that Native Americans are genetically predisposed to alcoholism.
- Why a risk assessment assumes a mental health diagnosis is of concern, without including information about a client’s medication management.
- The merits of new diagnoses included in the DSM-V (I highly recommend the book “Saving Normal” for any fellow bookworms!).
- Why a court does not seem to honor client confidentiality during hearings.
- If using Facebook to track clients online is ethical.
Intentionally allowing my curiosity to get the best of me, and not taking anything at face value has permitted me to expand my horizons in ways I could not have anticipated. Questioning in this manner has led to deep, fruitful discussions with my professors, classmates, Collaborative peers, and current field supervisor.
And so I will challenge you, as UNC has challenged me:
Discover the why.