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Thank you to this episode’s sponsor! The University of Houston has a phenomenal social work program that offers face-to-face master's and doctorate degrees, as well as an online and hybrid MSW. They offer one of the country’s only Political Social Work programs and an Abolitionist Focused Learning Opportunity. Located in the heart of Houston, the program is guided by their bold vision to achieve social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global. In the classroom and through research, they are committed to challenging systems and reimagining ways to achieve justice and liberation. Go to http://www.uh.edu/socialwork to learn more.
In this episode, I talk with Matt Dargay and Arie Davey, the co-founders of the group Payment 4 Placements, which advocates for social work students to have paid internships. This episode is Part 1 of a two-part series on social work students organizing for paid internships. They started this group as MSW students at the University of Michigan, and there are now chapters across the U.S. We talk about the overall issue of social work students not only being required to complete free internships to graduate, but also having to pay for the internship credits. We discuss the inequities of this unpaid internship system in terms of who gets to be a social worker, the debt of social work students, and how the national accrediting organization, the Council on Social Work Education, released a report stating that the cost of a social work degree is much higher for Black social work students. Arie and Matt present numerous ways to fund paid internships and talk about the organizing they’ve done at the University of Michigan and at the state level. They helped pass legislation to fund students interning as mental health counselors in schools across the state of Michigan, including funds for student interns in related disciplines, such as mental health counseling and psychology. They share their experiences organizing with the graduate union at the University of Michigan and offer additional strategies for social work students and others who want to address this critical issue. We have to challenge the mentality of “that’s just the way it is” and use our social work skills to organize for change. I hope this conversation inspires you to action.