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University of California, Berkeley School of Social Welfare Call for Fundamental Changes in American Political, Economic and Social

Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice. -National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics

On November 9, 2011, during a peaceful protest of the University of Californias proposed 81% tuition increase, police officers assaulted several U.C. Berkeley students, including two School of Social Welfare students, for exercising their constitutional right to free speech. This violent suppression of student rights denigrates the Universitys proud legacy as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. The student protests and unprovoked violence are symptoms of a political-economic system that favors the wealthy and powerful and divides Americans along ideological and economic lines. Vast wealth disparity and unequal access to the American Dream are the defining social issues of our time. As social workers, we embrace our ethical and moral obligation to take action. We respect the diverse array of ideas and demands put forth by the OccupyCal movement. Students at the U.C. Berkeley School of Social Welfare will provide leadership in forging a future where:

1) All Americans have meaningful employment opportunities, adequate housing, safe and healthy 2) Employment of any type guarantees an adequate standard of living, including quality healthcare 3) Social, political and economic systems work to maximize the potential of all citizens regardless
of inherited privilege and circumstance. We firmly oppose the unmaking of Californias great public university system. The proposed cuts directly impact the quality of social work education and threaten the social work professions ability to provide quality services to the most vulnerable members of American society: and a secure retirement communities, vibrant public spaces, and a quality education

1) Skyrocketing tuition prevents U.C. social work schools from recruiting a diverse student body,
which decreases our ability to provide culturally and linguistically competent services to all California residents. 2) The high cost of post-secondary education will steer students away from moderate-income careers like social work at a time when professional helpers are needed more than ever. 3) Student debt has reached astronomical levels and has a crippling effect on young peoples abilities to support themselves and their families

We are outraged and appalled by the violent silencing of U.C. Berkeley student voices. Community members of the School of Social Welfare call on the University and Chancellor Birgeneau to:

1) Protect its students from physical and emotional harm above all else and never again sanction 2) Recognize the pitching of tents on campus as a non-violent act of protest in the tradition of the
sit in protests of the past. The tent has become a symbol of the Occupy movement, and should be treated as an extension of free speech. 3) Engage in open, sincere dialogue with student protestors and take every measure possible to maintain affordable, high-quality education and a diverse student body. 4) Guarantee the right of non-violent protest and free speech on the UC Berkeley campus. As social workers, we embrace our long history as agents of social change and remain committed to addressing all inequalities and injustices. violent acts in the name of student safety and school policy.