The world once again is grieving over the deaths of innocent people in a mass shooting.
Last Friday, 50 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a terrorist assault on those gathered at two mosques during prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. The youngest victim at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques was a three-year-old boy.
The attack is reported to be the deadliest in New Zealand’s history and the alleged killer is believed to have ties to individuals online in a toxic culture of hate, violence and extremism.
This senseless tragedy has shaken the world and is an example of the deadly consequences of allowing racial hatred and religious intolerance to go unchecked.
Today, now more than ever, I am convinced of the importance of Social Workers in building and supporting diversity, inclusion, compassion and understanding. Any form of discrimination, including on religious grounds, is contrary to Social Worker core values.
That this horrendous tragedy happened during March, which is Social Work Month, makes it even more imperative that we act and voice our concerns.
Islamophobia, bigotry, violence and hatred against Muslims and immigrants must be stopped and dismantled at its core. We cannot allow hatred to flourish.
As a School of Social Work, we are committed to supporting diversity and educating Social Work leaders. 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 what took place in New Zealand and similar events that have recently happened in our country and in other places.
As I’ve stated in previous messages, racism, discrimination, white nationalism, neo-Nazism, violence and hate in any form is unacceptable behavior and must be immediately and strongly denounced. When we are confronted with evil and disturbing ideology, silence is not the answer.
Each of us must re-commit to being more inclusive and willing to learn more about different cultures, religions and social policy issues.
I hope you join us in events and learning opportunities in the coming weeks and months that speak to these issues and others.
For example, tomorrow at 6 p.m. the School of Social Work is hosting a panel discussion on the facts and issues associated with immigration. Wednesday, March 27, we’re hosting a Social Work Career Panel, Field Day, Jobs Fair and Research event, and Tuesday, April 2, we’re hosting a discussion on preventing sexual child abuse with Jenna Quinn, author of ‘Pure in Heart,' a TED speaker, and the namesake of the 2009 Jenna’s Law.
I look forward to hearing from you on other events, activities and things we can do to educate and fight against hate, bigotry, xenophobia and intolerance.
I expect all of you to continue to uphold the core values, ethical principles and standards of the Social Work profession. As I’ve said before, our classrooms must always be a learning environment that supports open dialogue, reflection, personal development and professional growth.
Our classrooms and School-organized events 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 and speak out against injustices.
We will continue to be a place of tolerance and hope, promoting respect and acceptance for all people, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, age, ability, nationality, gender identity or sexual orientation.
I welcome everyone back from Spring Break and I look forward to continuing our important work.
Scott D. Ryan
Dean and Professor
School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington