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Michigan State University School of Social Work - A catastrophic violation of every aspect of morality that one can hold dear.
Posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2012 at 1:00pm CST by Dane Y.
Product: Michigan State University School of Social Work
The Michigan State University School of Social Work is a catastrophic violation of every aspect of morality that one can hold dear. It?s a corrupt program spearheaded by an elitist faculty which has little or no concern for the well being of students. They have an agenda of personal improprieties in which professors use university money to finance their vacations all over the world. If nothing else, the program proves the National Association of Social Workers? Social Work Code of Ethics and the State of Michigan Licensing Board are selective entities devoid of any control over corruption at an institutional level. The biggest irony is how the program insulates itself against it?s own rottenness by being lousy by design.
Becoming a student in this program can be dangerous, unrewarding, and painful. One may invest years of their life and thousands of dollars into a program that never produces a degree. I feel lucky to have graduated on time because several in my class did not. Even though applicants cannot enter this program without excellent credentials, the School of Social Work turns students into the lowest common denominator ? begging for whatever bones they can get.
There are many undeniable truths in social work for which the School of Social Work is no exception. The first is that social work is a negative profession in which to be. The second is that what is said about someone goes a long way; rumors have a multiplicative effect that ripples throughout the community. The social work program at Michigan State University is run by individuals who will pierce through any high concepts one may have to reveal how dirty and underhanded this profession can be. They play dirty pool and will engage in actions that minimize a student?s chances of success.
Corruption permeates every part of this program, and nothing is more corrupt than the way practicums are managed. Practicums are real work experience and should be the best part of a student?s curriculum. Instead, practicums are rife with foul play that puts students into a world of hurt. The School of Social Work practicum advisors are the ones responsible for this. They are the ones who place students in practicums and facilitate their progress within them. At their best, practicums are managed with carelessness, recklessness, and wanton disregard. At their worst, they are steeped in wrongdoing that goes far past the point of reason.
Practicums are internships in which a student works sixteen hours a week in a social service agency. Even though practicums are a required part of the program, the agencies where students work don?t have any accountability to Michigan State University. It is an arrangement in which students have the same status as a volunteer. This means an agency independent of Michigan State University is responsible for a student?s success in the program.
The practicum arrangement begins when a new student receives a letter informing them of an upcoming agency interview. This is when the student first learns to which agency he has been assigned. The interview, however, does not guarantee a practicum. Agencies don?t do practicums for the benefit of students. They do practicums because they want someone to lighten their workload. Rarely does a student have the experience and qualifications to meet an agency?s expectations. Most students are a less than suitable match and some don?t pass the interview.
Practicum advisors create this situation by not matching students with agencies commensurate with their experience or career goals. A student who is experienced in geriatrics, for example, may receive a practicum working with substance abusers. Students find interviews dehumanizing because the agencies are arrogant about who they accept. Many students are told it is a reluctant arrangement and many are told outright they may not succeed. If the student is accepted, they begin work in an agency which has no obligations or accountability to Michigan State University and who is not enthusiastic about having them. This is an arrangement for which any number of negative things can happen.
Agencies have intense and treacherous work environments in which interns are the lowest common denominators in hierarchies resembling the pecking order of chickens. Students work with unionized employees and administrators who have been with the agency for years. These are protected employees who can be negative, rude, and tyrannical. Students are belittled for their inexperience and ?fall on the sword? when problems happen. Agencies agree to provide training and supervision, but this commitment is rarely experienced. Interns are ?grunts? who do very little substantive journeyman work. This happens because agencies are not required to do anything for the student other than write an evaluation. This is usually a useless and poorly written document submitted by the agency at the end of the semester.
Here are some events that happened to graduate students in my class:
1. One student spent weeks washing beds and dishes in a nursing home.
2. One student was required to spend several hours each week stacking and sorting canned goods at a food bank.
3. One student was forced to accept a practicum which required a fifty-mile drive one-way.
4. Some students went several weeks into the semester without a practicum.
5. One student was accused of stealing at her practicum.
6. Two students were sexually harassed by a co-worker in their practicum.
7. One student was placed in an agency that engaged in wrongdoing including an insurance scam.
8. Many students choose Michigan State University only because they are informed they will get a certain practicum, only to enroll in the program and discover the practicum is no longer available.
Any number of negative things happen in practicums because the agencies that provide them are in such high demand. Several programs in addition to the School of Social Work have practicum requirements. There are programs in nursing, counseling, medicine, administration, and others ? all of which need agencies to place students. The competition comes from programs within Michigan State University in addition to college programs outside Michigan State University. The School of Social Work puts a premium on keeping good relationships with the agencies who provide practicums and have little commitment to the welfare of their students within them. Students fall victim to a horrible power imbalance in which they have less rights than a new employee.
Practicum advisors intensify the situation by using favoritism when choosing agencies for students, and by engaging in skullduggery when communicating with agencies about students. The social service system is a labyrinth of independent agencies that provide services for consumers. It is a complex system of competition and cooperation involving different professions, occupations, and funding sources. Liability issues are rampant, in addition to issues involving licensing, accreditation, and professional accountability. These issues produce a universal sense of unease, defensiveness, and hypervigilance. Alliances, cliques, and favoritism are common in human services, in addition to stand-offs, bitterness, and revenge. Social work produces all kinds of inequity and this environment gives practicum advisors the freedom to engage in wrongdoing.
Practicum advisors are free to choose which students get which practicums and how they will facilitate each student?s progress within them. Practicum advisors have no enforceable guidelines or rules regarding what they do. Their actions are based more on favoritism and personal reward than anything else. In one situation, two students doing the same work in the same agency found one student being paid when the other was not. Some students complete their practicum doing half the work of others. Even worse than the favoritism is the skullduggery. Practicum advisors are ready, willing, and able to sacrifice students by putting them on a black list. A blacklisted student gets the worst practicums and is held accountable for the smallest things that go wrong within them. This is a long-standing bureaucratic maneuver called building a case against someone. Practicum advisors build cases against blacklisted students and torpedo their chances of success.
Practicum advisors can do this because they don?t have any more accountability than the outside agencies where students do their practicums. The School of Social Work is like a secret and closed fraternal order. They are a tight clique of cronies, weasels, pigeons, moles, and buddies. Normal rules of right and wrong are replaced by a confidential and supernatural sense of purpose and unity. Students are treated fairly in the beginning, when there is still time to drop, but as the semester progresses they find themselves experiencing condemnation and even abuse. Practicum advisors treat students like dirt and everything becomes confidential and off-limits. Students get blamed and administrators act underneath a cover of darkness, unwilling to explain their decisions and actions. Their communication style is the source of their problems. Everything is a personality conflict for them. They forsake judgment and professionalism to play favorites and pursue personal grudges.
Minority students and outsiders to the Lansing area are the ones in the gravest danger. A student who brings a concern to a practicum advisor will receive a snotty, defensive response. A student cannot even finish speaking before being rudely interrupted, hearing the practicum advisor state their position with arrogance and authority. Students learn quickly that the only ground they stand on is quicksand. Practicum advisors have heard it all before and their message is clear ? having issues will compromise your success in your practicum. If a student?s concern cannot be waylaid then practicum advisors begin their attack.
A negative comment can go a long way in social work. A rumor about someone will start alarm bells ringing and red flags waving. This is how practicum advisors manufacture their poison. They make statements that make others question the student?s competence, or they act funny when communicating with agencies about certain students. They pretend to have good intentions in mind when they are really carrying out malice. In one situation, a student informed her practicum advisor that she was sexually harassed by a male therapist in her practicum. The practicum advisor responded by asking ?Do you feel like having sex with him?? The practicum advisor gave the agency this information and said the student cannot succeed in social work. This undermined the agency?s confidence in the student and led to a termination.
Terminations are outright dismissals from the agency and are a common occurrence in this program. They are traumatic for students and loosen a floodgate of future events. Students are usually kept in the dark about their termination until it occurs. In a brief meeting, the student learns that the School of Social Work and the agency arranged a termination and the practicum is over. One student received good oral and written evaluations and felt everything was going smoothly, but was then terminated without any warning whatsoever. Most terminations happen late in the semester just before the evaluation is due. This is beneficial for the agency because it maximizes the amount of work they get without having to do anything in return. It also minimizes supervision and training issues that a student could raise if problems were brought up sooner.
Terminations have less to do with a student?s performance than internal politics within the agency that are outside the student?s control. Graduate students, for example, experience wrongdoing from bachelor?s level caseworkers who are jealous about helping someone earn a marketable degree. In some situations, an agency supervisor leaves ? causing the practicum to end abruptly ? leaving the student without a credentialed person to supervise them. In one situation, an agency terminated their social work interns when it was discovered that nursing school interns were available instead. Despite this, the School of Social Work placed another unsuspecting intern there the following year ? leading to another termination.
Most terminations force students to drop classes that must be taken with the practicum. A student may only be a month away from graduating when a termination occurs. This causes a postponement of everything for an entire year. This requires paying for the same classes a second time. Terminations put students into compromising positions because bad news spreads like wildfire. Everyone learns about the termination and this increases the likelihood of it happening again, forcing some students to spend as many as four years obtaining a two-year graduate degree. Some students invest thousands of dollars and several years into this program without ever finishing.
Practicums are not the only place where students experience wrongdoing and mistreatment. The School of Social Work is run by professors and administrators who are corrupt in administering student affairs in all situations. Michigan State University is a large school composed of mostly undergraduates who are known for partying. This is a milieu that finds administrators treating students with contempt. The School of Social Work is a large program that works with State of Michigan government in the nearby capitol of Lansing. There is coziness between the School of Social Work and Lansing that produces elitism on their part. No matter how sordid their state of affairs, professors and administrators are beyond reproach, and are not afraid to act that way.
Social work professors are unwilling to help students both in and out of class. Simple requests such as seeing one?s academic advisor is difficult. A student can try any number of ways of contacting their academic advisor - emails, phone messages, hand-written notes left on the door ? all of which fail to get a response. Many students have found themselves in difficult situations because of poor academic advising. One student had to postpone graduation an entire year because her academic advisor failed to inform her about a required class. When a student shows up at a professor?s office unexpectedly, the professor can be found socializing with colleagues. One professor informed the class she has a button on her computer that erases all her emails without having to read any of them.
Professors spend a large percentage of time preparing for national conferences in other cities and vacations to other countries. They then share with students their experiences on these vacations in a pathetic attempt to enrich everyone. The School of Social Work also wines and cajoles foreign social work dignitaries who visit the United States. This is all paid for by Michigan State University. The School of Social Work facilitates these arrangements by admitting foreign students into the program from cooperating countries. These foreign students are not qualified to be in the program, yet the favoritism they receive more than accommodates for their shortcomings. The Program Director even transports them to and from the airport and helps them move into their dorm or apartment. These students get paid practicums, paid assistantships, and are included in fancy dinner party celebrations. They always get the best practicums and are guided through them successfully. Their grades are excellent, despite their writing and speaking being almost unintelligible.
Most classes are taught by tenured professors who are immune from having to teach. A universal message permeates every class. Instead of sober and objective scholarship, lectures are a fire hose blast of message mongering. Lectures emphasize using subjectivity in practice and doing so with an attitude. Professors engage in long-winded rants about oppression, the lodestar of which is ?woman as victim.? Students are force fed so much hyperbole and hysteria that it borders on academic fascism. It goes without saying that women are a vulnerable group, but rarely is there intelligent discourse about how to help us. Instead, it?s whining, male bashing, and extremism in the most vile way imaginable. The program is both anti-male and anti-family and students are taught to use this paradigm as a method for practice. Students who don?t receive their marching orders with unflinching composure will have their success in the program compromised. Students behave like automatons, nodding helplessly in agreement - marching in lockstep - fearing to speak out for fear of retaliation, no matter how ridiculous or bad it may be.
Classes do nothing to help students succeed in their practicums and make them feel they are bidding their time just to get a degree. Classes generally consist of a monotonous lecture followed by group discussion that peters out into social conversation about unrelated topics. Each year a clique of students from Lansing and Okemos dominate classroom discussion and program events. This creates a white centrist atmosphere among the student body and alienates minority students. Most professors are therapists and have a habit of utilizing this role in their behavior. Professors are elitist in their interactions with students, seemingly less interested in what the student says than in engaging in psychoanalysis. Professors roam students with their eyes, being alert to hand or body motions, and asking condescending questions such as ?How does that make you feel?? Students feel they are being psychoanalyzed and treated like children.
Many students felt the program should have more emphasis on African-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanics, substance abusers, and other vulnerable groups. Others felt that more traditional social work topics were lacking such as poverty, violence, mental illness, and suicide. Classroom instruction, instead, is almost completely about the white middle-class female. Assigned readings consist of authors such as John Gray, Carole Gilligan, and Catherine MacKinnon. This program is for white women who want to become therapists in suburban settings and ignores the needs of anyone interested in traditional social work areas. Many in the School of Social Work are openly homophobic, something well known in the local social service community.
Here are some examples of things that happen in class:
1.) A professor will show an old black and white film about an anonymous woman?s role in the labor movement.
2.) A class may consist of a professor showing her vacation pictures. ?Here?s me at the fruit stand.?
3.) A student receives her grades and learns her grade was lowered because of an innocuous comment she made in class.
4.) A student is forced to drop a class halfway through the semester because she didn?t have a prerequisite class, upsetting her academic schedule.
5.) Professors give no feedback about students? assignments or anything else throughout the entire semester.
6.) Professors play favorites with students, deriding certain students? comments and agreeing with the comments of others.
Some students mustered up enough courage to try and make changes. A large group of students went to the program director with a litany of complaints. Their efforts were futile and changes were nil. One student stormed out of class on account of mistreatment from a professor. Another student called the police when a student bully made threats in class. A great deal of courage is required to make changes and some in this group reported repercussions because of their efforts. Several students? grades were not what they expected, and one student was terminated from her practicum. Several tried to appeal their grades through the grievance procedure but were thwarted through stonewalling. Professors then made students from this group aware of their unfavorable status. Professors and administrators would scrunch up their faces and glare at certain students. Some professors would turn up their noses in disgust and thrust their heads away, as if there was a repulsive smell.
All of this is made worse by the Long Distance Education Initiative. This is the School of Social Work making this program available in the hinterlands of Michigan through teleconferencing. This means classes are broadcast live on television screens to and from classrooms full of people in different parts of Michigan. Several classrooms of people hundreds of miles apart all interact with each other at once. This is a complicated endeavor and technical difficulties make it a major distraction for the main body of students in East Lansing. It is draining for everyone and it minimizes learning. The main body of students are kept in the dark about this until after the program begins. This means that after going through the difficulty of getting accepted to a competitive program, students relocate to East Lansing only to find themselves in a teleconference course in which they are lumped in with less qualified students from other areas who don?t have to relocate.
It has been said the degree is the only useful thing that one gets from this program. The social work program at Michigan State University is so much like social work practice in real life. It is a difficult profession to be in. Think about your worst experiences with bureaucracy and think about how being in an environment affects your behavior. Social workers are in these kinds of environments all the time. Bureaucracies come from law and social workers are often the administrators of law. Social workers at Michigan State University thrive on having power and control over others. They are also experienced at getting grants and approaching others for money. This is how they persuaded Michigan State University to fund their expensive vacations. These vacations are completely unnecessary and are a telling reason how this program pursues an agenda in opposition to the needs of its students.