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  • NASW-IL Staff

NASW-IL Chapter Board of Directors Statement

NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors

The National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) is firmly committed to upholding the principles of social justice, the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, and the vital role of advocacy. As the national office of NASW addresses the complexities of international policy around the Israel/Palestinian conflict, our focus intensifies on Illinois, where its impact is being felt on university campuses and communities and where numerous social workers and families deeply connected to both sides of the conflict are experiencing significant pain and trauma.

We recognize the fundamental right of students and faculty to engage in peaceful protests as a vital form of expression and advocacy. However, it is essential that these demonstrations are conducted respectfully and safely to protect the well-being of all students, irrespective of their backgrounds. Universities have a crucial responsibility to create an environment that not only allows but supports this form of discourse. This includes understanding and addressing the potential trauma that the presence of law enforcement can cause in these sensitive situations. Effective management of protests should prioritize de-escalation and foster a climate where open, respectful exchanges can occur without escalating tensions, ensuring a safe and supportive space for all participants.

We have also been informed of a deeply concerning incident involving a Facebook group of Illinois social workers who compiled a list targeting Jewish colleagues by advising against referrals to them. This act constitutes a clear breach of the ethical principles of social justice and the intrinsic dignity and worth of the person which are foundational to social work. Such discriminatory behavior perpetuates harmful legacies of anti-Semitism which have long and painfully impacted Jewish communities. As social workers committed to upholding the values of equity and inclusivity, we must confront and challenge these actions with the utmost seriousness and adherence to our professional standards of conduct.

In our trauma-informed approach to social work, we must be particularly sensitive to the heightened emotional states of families in Illinois connected to this conflict. The dual heritage of pain—stemming from historical persecution and current geopolitical strife—requires a compassionate, educated response that fosters healing and understanding across communities. We urge all social workers and related communities to consider deeply the repercussions of their actions and to pursue inclusivity and respect in all professional engagements.

Universities and their associated bodies are urged to foster environments where dialogue and understanding can prevail. In these educational spaces where future leaders are shaped, the lessons of empathy, justice, and community healing are crucial.

The NASW-Illinois Chapter is steadfast in its commitment to support our members in providing trauma-informed education and advancing reconciliation efforts. As we move forward, it is essential that we renew our dedication to the fundamental values of respect, dignity, and compassion. These principles are especially critical as we advocate for the safety and well-being of the communities we serve, including those affected by violence both domestically and internationally.

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