Letter: Collegian article on social work student protest was ‘inaccurate’

Students from the department of social work rallied in the peace garden on April 17th, 2018 after admission decisions for the master of social work (MSW) program were revealed. Only one-third of MSW students were social work undergraduates. (Razmik Canas/The Collegian)

By: Martha Vungkhanching

I would like to respond to the article “Who’s To Blame” published in The Collegian on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, as written by Razmik Cañas and William Ramirez.

The concerns and opinions of students in our Department of Social Work Education are extremely important to us and we place great value on their educational pursuits and aspirations.

The article in question contained inaccurate and false information.

The fact is, admissions to our Master of Social Work (MSW) program is highly competitive and has remained that way for many years. For the 2018-19 cohort, 55 applicants were accepted, bringing our total number of incoming students to 66, which includes part-time and returning students.

Of that number, 50 percent of the newly admitted students are social work majors. This percentage varies each year based on the composition of our applicants. We do not, and have never, based our admissions process on quotas related to major/discipline, gender, income or ethnicity.

We do emphasize GPA, paid experience in human services, and professional readiness as significant criteria for admissions into the MSW program.

We understand the concerns our students raised regarding the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and had already begun discussions among our Admissions Committee, prior to Tuesday’s walkout.

In order to increase the size of our cohort, which stands at approximately 50-60 students, factors such as resources, classroom and faculty availability, and budget must be considered, first and foremost. We want to see our cohorts expand, but maintaining and improving the quality of our educational program is most important.

It is deeply concerning to me that students reported faculty from the Admissions Committee shared information with
them that was either confidential or inaccurate. This violates our code of ethics on privacy and confidentiality, which we
hold with the highest regard.

Since the walkout, we have held two sessions for students in order to hear their concerns and answer their questions, and will host another session next week. In addition, all students are invited to attend an upcoming faculty meeting in an effort to provide transparency and an open conversation.

Students are also welcome to meet individually with myself and Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Betty Garcia, by contacting the Department of Social Work office at 559-278-3992.

As I stated earlier, the success of our students and their educational endeavors is an area we greatly value and will continue to do so.

Dr. Martha Vungkhanching is a professor and chair of the Fresno State department of social work education.

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