Advocacy Day: Learning a key role of social workers

February 02, 2017

CSU School of Social Work Advocacy Day 2017 at the Colorado State Capitol

"The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life." -Jane Addams

In our society, social workers see first-hand how hard it can be when people struggle to maintain basic human needs for themselves and their families. It's a unique position that lends social workers authority to be the voice of change and social justice.

Students in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University explore social workers' commitment to social and economic justice through their course work. The advanced generalist program includes a special emphasis on empowering and improving the well-being of marginalized groups.

On Tuesday, January 31, students had the opportunity to use what they've learned in the classroom about affecting changes in public policy making during the first department-sponsored Advocacy Day held at the Colorado State Capitol.

Assistant Professor Jennifer Portz, working with Field Education Director Susan Tungate and Associate Field Director Liz Davis, secured a grant from Council on Social Work Education to provide the funding for this opportunity for social work students at Colorado State. Activities were tailored to students' interests in policy practice and social justice issues.

"The goal was to ask questions, learn, and practice advocacy skills," said Portz. "Students were encouraged to learn more about the individual legislators' interests, current bills, and backgrounds."

During the first part of the day, students observed Colorado legislative sessions from various vantage points in small groups, such as being on the Senate floor with Senator John Kefalas of Colorado Senate District 14, or being on the House floor with Representative Jonathan Singer of Colorado House District 11.

Students then attended a Community Advocate Panel in the old Supreme Court chambers. Speakers included representatives from the National Association of Social Workers, the Colorado Mental Wellness Network, the Center for Trauma and Resilience, and a current intern with Representative Singer.

An opportunity to meet and greet with Colorado state lawmakers upon adjournment of the legislative sessions was offered before breaking for lunch. During the afternoon, students again broke into small groups and either attended committee hearings or advocated in scheduled meetings with legislators of both parties.

Several members of the School of Social Work faculty guided students through the day. Said Marie Villescas-Zamzow, one of the faculty members who joined students at the Capitol: "This experience really allowed us to demonstrate macro-level social work to our students in a way that can't be duplicated in a classroom."

The School of Social Work is a part of Colorado State University's College of Health and Human Sciences.

Contact:  Tricia Howley, Communications Coordinator

Telephone:  970-491-2181