December 17, 2008

Conservative Social Worker

There is more information on the "conservative" social work student that claims he was discriminated against because of his views.

The new article, from is entitled Student Says School Persecuted Him for Being Conservative.

The article gives more details about how this man felt he was discriminated against. He provides proof in the form of an email that a professor admits biases and that his final project wasn't approved because it countered the school's "progressive" agenda.

One of the comments particularly bugged me and it was as follows:
He alleges that Perlmutter spent a 50-minute class "assailing" his views and allowed students to openly ridicule his conservative positions, and that she reduced his grade because he was not "progressive."
If she actually did reduce his grade for not being progressive, I can understand his problems. Can he prove that, though? Or is it just his bias. In the article, it says that he feels he was targeted from the beginning, so wouldn't he be looking for anything to show that he was being targeted?

Anyways, the real problem I have with it is that he says the prof spent a class "assailing" his views. That could mean presenting and teaching the opposing viewpoint, which might just be backed with more actual research. He might have felt like he was being personally attacked because it went against what he feels is correct. I can see this happening, as it has happened to me.

And then the part about the instructor "allowing" students to ridicule his conservative positions. I see nothing at all wrong with this...well, depending on what ridicule means, I guess. If they're just wasting time making fun of the positions, then that's just stupid. But if they're critiquing and analyzing them from their point of view, which might very well feel like ridicule to him, why should the teacher not "allow" that?

An instructor once told me this story about a group she was in where they were critiquing a fellow student's master thesis. My instructor pointed out that a couple of the piece of data did not make sense and it really hurt her presentation. The student started crying and asked her why my instructor didn't like her.

And that's what it feels like sometimes. But as long as there aren't personal attacks, attacks on ideas are perfectly acceptable, in my opinion. In order to learn and grow, we need to attack ideas that not based on fact or have an oppressive nature to them.

I'd love to hear from the professors in this story. I'd also love to read the student's work!


Reas Kroicowl said...

I wrote a long comment, which didn't save, and I don't have the energy to write it again. In summary: I'm disappointed that a school of social work--a school whose premise is tolerant, would be intolerant of this young man because he's in the political minority.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know what his thesis was and where he wasn't allowed to do his internship at. One of the articles also mentioned ethics violations. It's always hard to know which way this story goes without a lot of details. Certainly, I had class mates who were what I considered "bad apples." But, I've also seen situations (not in my Master's program) where a person was black balled and then authority figures did all that they could to make sure they were run out.

That being said, your point about challenging a person's views isn't necessarily ridicule...if it is done correctly and with sensitivity. You would hope that people with a social work background would be able to do just that.

prin said...

Just making the rounds this morning...Hope you and yours have a great holiday!

SnowBlind said...

I think that anyone who uses the words "assail" and "persecute" to describe an experience from a university classroom is likely oversensitive.

This is an example of how some people can bend semantics into liability. Though wonderfully poetic, words still can't assail, nor can they persecute, these are physical verbs. Classrooms run on an economy of ideas and perhaps this guy is too sensitive for social work.

Great story.

Anonymous said...

I am appalled that there were such attacks on this young man. However, it is important to note that students with very conservative values are often in conflict with the social work code of ethics, which has a liberal value base.

I have a lot of sympathy for such students and try to be a safe person for them, because the fact is that they are often attacked in class. Conservative students need an arena where they can safely explore how to reconcile their personal values with the values of the profession. This takes time, often the entire course of the program. But if they are attacked, they tend to entrench themselves even more.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the student over exaggerated his clams of being “ridiculed”. It is okay to mock conservative viewpoints on most college campuses and the north east is known for their liberal schools. It is most likely worse than in Southern California where I was just told that my views were inconsistent with social work because I stand up for the conservative viewpoint.

antiSWer said...

I would love to hear more about your experiences and what exactly was said to you, Anonymous. I hope you check back and can share more specifically.

I'm curious what areas were deemed inconsistent with social work by...was it peers, teachers, administrators??? Let us know...

Anonymous said...

It is no secret that social work education is liberally bias. If you do not believe politics influences social "research", which is what social educators are ultimately teaching social work students, you are quite naïve. As far as this student being "sensitive," I don't believe it is conservative college students now calling for "Trigger Warning" on campus because they are unable to handle opposing views (again overwhelming conservative views)--that's your liberal students. The reality is, conservative students are vastly under-represented in education, research and practice and this article promotes the exact bias that this students and practitioners must endure from liberal cohorts. Simply look at the student textbooks involved in this so-called tolerant and diverse education and profession. I certainly remember having to read the book "Blaming the Victim" but were other views ever presented? Of course not. If so, we would have also read "A Nation of Victims" 15 years ago as well. H.D., MSW, LCSW

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