Jul 13, 2020
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)

Social work students sit down with faculty after last month’s protest

Students from the Fresno State social work program met with faculty on Tuesday to discuss their concerns about graduate school admission policies.

The meeting came several weeks after students protested recently released admission decisions to the Master of Social Work (MSW) program.

The students had spoken out on a number of issues, including removing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) from the list of requirements to apply to the master’s program and the need for an established social work writing course.

Some students were concerned that just one-third of MSW students had been bachelor of social work undergraduates.

After the protest, Martha Vungkhanching, chair of the Fresno State department of social work education, wrote a letter to the editor to The Collegian to address some of the students’ concerns.

Vungkhanching said that for the 2018-19 school year, 50 percent of those admitted to the MSW program were bachelor of social work undergraduates. She said the percentage fluctuates from year to year.

The Collegian was asked to leave Tuesday’s meeting before it began. After the meeting ended, The Collegian spoke with the students who stayed for the meeting.

Student Sandy Vongthong said an item discussed was the GRE examination and the burden it often poses for some students.

She said that people with more income may have a stronger chance of scoring well on the exam – raising equity issues, she said. She also explained that the study materials from Kaplan to prepare for the exam can cost between $500 and $1,000.

“I’m a single mom and a full-time student,” Vongthong said. “I can’t afford to pay for that test prep to do better on the GRE.”

Avelina Charles, an undergraduate social work student, agreed with the proposed changes to the department admission criteria after communicating with faculty members.

She said she hopes the efforts by students will help build a better path for the aspiring graduate.

“The reason we’re doing this is not to help us, but to help the future social work students,” Charles said.

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