First, I want to welcome our new and returning social work students. In addition to welcoming our largest class ever, we are welcoming 10 new full-time faculty members and one staff member.
Welcome to the fall semester and a new academic year. This year we celebrate our 50th anniversary and each of you are here at an historic time for our school. I’m excited about the upcoming year and look forward to opportunities to re-connect with alumni and interacting with faculty, staff and students.
However, I would be remiss, if I did not share with you my thoughts on the recent events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia.
As social workers, more than any other profession, we recognize the importance and strength of diversity and inclusion. We understand the importance of standing up against hatred and bigotry.
I know many of you are rightfully upset about the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia and about other similar events happening in our country. Racism, discrimination, white nationalism, neo-Nazism, violence and hate in any form is unacceptable behavior and must be immediately and strongly denounced.
When confronted with this evil and disturbing ideology, silence is not the answer.
We should all be reminded of the following often quoted statement from Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Niemöller, a protestant German pastor, believed through silence in the persecution and murder of millions of Jews during World War II, he and others were in effect complicit in the crimes committed by Nazi Germany.
I expect all of you to continue to uphold the core values and ethical principles and standards of the social work profession. As I stated following last year’s presidential election, our school and classrooms must always be a learning environment that supports open dialogue, reflection, personal development and professional growth.
Our classrooms should be where we engage in thoughtful inquiry, scholarly research and respectful debate. Therefore, I expect everyone to be respectful of the thoughts and feelings of others.
We will continue to be a place of tolerance and hope, promoting respect and acceptance for all people, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, age, nationality or sexual orientation.
We take immense pride in the diversity of our students and consider it to be one of our greatest strengths. As a school of social work, we remain committed to maintaining a culture of acceptance, compassion and mutual respect.
We are at our best when we come together committed to advocating for social justice, helping the marginalized and disadvantaged and protecting those threatened.
I look forward to working with all of you this year to further our mission of developing students who are life-long learners and leaders dedicated to challenging the present and enriching the future for everyone.
Scott D. Ryan
Dean and Jenkins Garrett Professor
School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington