Commentary  Social Work student associations speak up

An open letter to the McGill Community

The two social work student associations based out of Wilson Hall (WH) comprise current and future members of a profession that places a high value on the promotion of service to humanity, social justice, and respect for the inherent dignity and worth of individuals. Through an interpretation of the principles of our professional Code of Ethics, we take a stance against tuition hikes that may disproportionately burden marginalized and disenfranchised groups. Effective on March 19, the undergraduate Social Work Student Association (SWSA) was on an unlimited general strike against tuition hikes. The Social Work Association of Graduate Students (SWAGS) has also supported the Post-Graduate Student Society (PGSS) three-day strike mandate from March 20-22nd.

As part of their strike action, SWSA maintained a soft, informational picket around on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week at WH. We would like to set the record straight regarding confusion that arose on Tuesday when individuals not connected to our association formed a hard picket around WH. The online article “Hard picket lines form” (News, March 20) implied that members of SWSA participated in hard picket lines. Moreover, a short news update, “Striking on campus” (News, March 19) claimed undergraduate nursing and social work students organized the Tuesday morning hard picket line. This false information created confusion among students and faculty, and caused unnecessary tension among social work students.

Neither members of SWSA nor SWAGS participated in the hard picket of Tuesday. Social work student associations did not coordinate or organize a hard picket with the individuals who were present on Tuesday.  In fact, there is generally limited presence of Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as most are off-campus in field placement and there are no BSW classes scheduled on these days.

The intent of this letter is not to condemn anyone’s actions. We respect the diversity of tactics used. However, we would like to clarify to the students, staff, and faculty based out of WH that we were not involved in this tactic.

As SWSA prepares for the next GA to vote on an extended strike, we want to set the record straight about what our past actions have been.

In solidarity,

Anne Blumenthal, SWSA Communications Coordinator
Jade Mathieu, SWSA Internal Coordinator
The SWAGS Executive Council