These are indeed are trying times.
The murder on Monday night of Ana Charle, Director of the Project Renewal Homeless Shelter in the Bronx, is deeply disturbing and sad for all of us, but particularly upsetting to social workers. The alarming tragedy reminds us that there is real risk in the important work we do.
We must remember that these situations are extremely rare. Still, it is important that Silberman and our students continue to take the subject of safety very seriously. We include information for you in our orientations and in the Student Handbook. Procedures for ensuring student safety are included in all our agency agreements. And, of course, we discuss these issues in classes and in advising. Please seek out the Student Services staff (Donna Contreras and Rob Lorey) or members of the Field Education Department (Kanako Okuda, Abby Miller, Joanne Rizzi, Pat Grey, Warren Graham, Michelle Desir) or any of your teachers or advisers if you have concerns. I know all of them will make themselves available to help.
In the fall our Field Education Department will organize a special session on safety that will expand what we’ve historically covered in orientation. We will invite guest experts who can address all your concerns.
We also know that you, like us, are following the unfolding events in Baltimore with anguish and deep concern. These recent events remind us of the importance of the continuing work students and faculty do to address the frustration of people of color who are marginalized in our society.
The events of the last few days raise serious challenges and, unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to the problems of persons with chronic mental health issues or communities of color and other marginalized communities that have traditionally faced discrimination. Though infuriating, enduring, and painful, confronting these issues are at the core of our profession, and we will continue to work to rectify them.
Jacqueline B. Mondros, DSW
Dean and Professor