Event calls borders ‘man-made constructs,’ gets promoted by university

The Bethel University Department of Social Work promoted an event calling borders ‘man-made constructs...used to justify and deny the dignity and humanity of the native peoples of this land.’

Requirements for a B.A. in social work include two social justice classes and two others on ‘anti-racism, anti-oppressive, and justice-informed theories and practice in social work.’

The Bethel University Department of Social Work recently promoted a vigil hosted by the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM). 

In a video of the event, participants claimed “that immigration policy and the borders themselves are man-made constructs which are used to justify and deny the dignity and humanity of the native peoples of this land.”

On the department’s Facebook page, ICOM is designated as a “community partner.” ICOM, as part of their code of conduct, “is an anti-racist organization.”

The monthly prayer vigils are “hosted by a rotating cast of faith communities and social justice groups” and take place outside the regional headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Saint Paul, Minnesota. 

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ICOM is also “leading campaigns to end cooperation of county sheriffs with ICE,” according to its website.  

ICE, a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for apprehending those who have entered the U.S. illegally. ICE’s other duties, according to its website, include “dismantling transnational criminal networks” and “investigat[ing] a broad range of cybercrime, including child exploitation.” 

During the fall 2022 semester, the Bethel Department of Social Work posted on its Facebook page that its “seniors are reading How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi in their Practice 3 course.” The Practice III course involves a “[g]eneralist social work theory applied to integrated practice within client systems.” 

Though the Practice III course does not emphasize social justice or anti-racism, the department dedicates other required courses to these topics. For a B.A. in social work, the academic catalog shows that students must take two courses on “Experience in Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Social Work Practice.” 

Two other required classes for the social work program, SOW 330 and SOW 331, focus on the “[i]ntegration of anti-racism, anti-oppressive, and justice-informed theories and practice in social work experience.” 

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Applicants must also “sign and agree to” the Program Position Statement on Diversity as well as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, which states, “Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients.”

The NASW Code of Ethics defines promoting social justice as “community organization,” “advocacy,” and “social and political action.” 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties for comment and will update this article accordingly.