NASW Chapter Presidents Call for Affirmative Action Support
The 55 members of the National Association of Social Workers Council of Chapter Presidents (NASW COCP) are outraged at the June 29, 2023, decision by the US Supreme Court to strike down and overturn affirmative action in college admissions.
As a provision of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, affirmative action policies provide protection for the rights of marginalized individuals and groups including Black people, Indigenous peoples, and other communities of color, as well as women and members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
What we are witnessing is an undoing of the Civil Rights Act and the undoing of justice. Ending affirmative action in higher education will allow for the perpetuation of discrimination and exclusionary practices towards people of color and other marginalized groups in not only our schools, but in housing, employment, and health care.
The past three years have shown us that racism, discrimination, and bias in America still exist and, in many regards, are more blatant. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson provides a detailed historical account of racial discrimination and current racial disparities in our country, emphasizing that, “[B]y ignoring race, it just makes it matter more.” (Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, 2023, Jackson, J.)
Part of the social work mission is to advocate for social justice. Our code of ethics calls us to, “[P]ursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.” (NASW, 2017)
As elected leaders in each NASW Chapter, we invite all social workers to be united in action “. . . to engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully.” (NASW, 2017)
● Social workers can contact their state and federal legislators to oppose the expansion of anti-affirmative action legislation in their respective states.
● Social work deans, directors, and faculty should support existing affirmative action strategies and programs in their universities and oppose efforts to diminish them locally and nationally.
● Social workers can also devote time and resources to increasing voter registration. It is imperative for legislators to represent the views of their constituents and appoint judges who can review laws without political influence or bias.
Martin Luther King, Jr., once stated that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” It’s time we act and call out this injustice.
Council of Chapter President Steering Committee Contributors
Fatima Salman, COCP Chair, President, NASW Michigan Chapter
Latesha Newson, COCP Chair-Elect, President-Elect NASW-Illinois Chapter
Victor Manalo, COCP Immediate Past-Chair, President, NASW California Chapter
Aubrey Sejuit, COCP Secretary, President, NASW South Carolina Chapter
Julie Schirmer, COCP Member at Large, President, NASW Maine Chapter
Samantha Dutton, President NASW Tennessee Chapter
Derrick Howell, President, NASW Missouri Chapter
Francie Julien-Chinn, President, NASW Hawaii Chapter
Tania Malone, President-Elect, NASW Wyoming Chapter
Patricia Nishimoto, President, NASW West Virginia Chapter
Julia Rose, President, NASW Iowa Chapter
Jamela Santos, President-Elect, NASW Guam Chapter
Gavin Wisdom, President, NASW Montana Chapter
Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. U.S. 600 (2023), Jackson, J., dissenting opinion, page 25. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/06/29/us/affirmative-action-decision-document-supreme-court.html
National Association of Social Workers. (2017). NASW code of ethics. Retrieved July 11, 2023, from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English