Advocates' Forum 2016 Letter from the Board

From the 2016 issue of Advocates' Forum

LETTER FROM THE BOARD
Advocates’ Forum is a master’s student-run, peer-reviewed publication at SSA. As such, remaining neutral and unbiased is core to our mission of presenting scholarly materialto the academic community. Now in its 21st year, Advocates’ Forum continues to publish scholarly work by students that reflects the views of the authors. We strive to ensure that the article selection process is informed by the quality of the research and writing, rather than the opinions expressed by the authors.

However, biases live inside each of us. As an Editorial Board, we have worked to become more aware of these biases by closely examining our experiences and intersecting identities. We are also lucky that with an Editorial Board of 17 students, we worked collaboratively toward addressing our perspectives and discussing the submitted articles in a less biased way. We recognize that these biases should not be discounted, nor will we ever be completely unbiased. Our hope is that we have selected articles based on their merit, and not on how closely they align with our own social and political ideologies.

As we looked at where SSA and the social work profession are in this moment, we were reminded of the history of Advocates’ Forum. In the past, the journal was used as a space to memorialize and engage in discourse about the SSA community and the world at large. Taking a cue from previous Editorial Boards, we wanted to preserve our experiences as current SSA students for future readers.

In the past few years, there has been a push for SSA to acknowledge how identity and intersectionality impact our education and practice as social workers. As the
Editorial Board of Advocates’ Forum, we stand with those whose identities have not been competently addressed by the coursework and climate at SSA. Students with less privileged identities – in particular, students of color and students with nonconforming gender identities – have bravely stepped forth to advocate for increased inclusivity and diversity within SSA’s institutional climate and curriculum. These courageous students have started a campus-wide conversation, and we hope the student body and those in power will work towards an inclusive curriculum and space that recognizes and validates these unique experiences.

The articles chosen for this journal were selected to the extent that they are relevant to social work values. These values of social equality, inclusivity, and social justice bolster the ongoing efforts to transform SSA. Student-led efforts are demanding that our institution work toward the dismantling of systemic oppression. Historically, this institution has been fraught with oppressive practices, but change is upon us as we attempt to diversify our student body and academic staff. University-wide, students are asking our institution to better its response in other areas such as campus sexual assault and policy reform.

Our goal for this year’s edition has been to ignite academic discourse and bring attention to an array of topics relevant to social work. We are honored to have read so many wonderful submissions and grateful to all the students who bravely put their best work forward. We are excited about the future of SSA and the levels of insight demonstrated in the articles we read and discussed. Thank you for taking your time to read these articles. We hope that you examine how these articles resonate with your own experiences and identities.