A group of students and VU alumni has formed to support Valpo’s Social Work department, which is currently under review for discontinuance by the university. Rachel Taube, Class of 2007, is part of this group and explains that they largely formed through the grapevine of students and alumni after getting notice that the department, among others, was under review.
Taube, who lives in St. Louis, says that the group is made up of a wide range of “caring, concerned folks” that responded to the call for help.
“A lot of the people that I graduated with have stayed in contact,” Taube said. “And I think then [they] also have been in contact with people from different generations of social workers. So we actually have people who've responded, alumni in the social work department who've kind of responded to our call for help from [the] graduation years of 1961 to 2023.”
When asked about why she felt it was important to save VU Social Work, Taube noted that she was the 12th person in her family to attend Valpo, and that she “[cares] deeply about the university.” However, at first she considered that it may just have been a financial decision that the university had to make in difficult circumstances.
“I grew up in Valpo sweatsuits. So I love Valpo,” Taube said. “And I know that the environment for universities is really hard right now. So when I heard about it first, to be honest, I almost just resigned myself to say, ‘okay, well, the university has to make hard decisions.’”
However, Taube continued to say that on gathering more information, it didn’t make sense to her to get rid of the program. According to Taube, the department has a positive contribution margin, and that they are not a “financial drain” on the university.
“I think part of seeing Valpo succeed is having Valpo social work there. So I think that's why I really decided to get involved and to make my voice heard,” Taube said.
Beyond the numbers, Taube also says that there is a great need for social work right now, and that it is a field that closely aligns with the mission of VU itself.
“I think it's a time where social workers, the kinds of skills that social workers have, is really needed in this world. I think that when we talk about [how] the University just put out this big statement, their action agenda for racial equity. And I think social work, that's what social work is about,” Taube said.
According to data provided by Taube, Social Work prepares students to serve in church and society, and in the last five years social work majors have completed over 47,000 hours of service to the community. Social Work increases the retention and graduation rates of historically underrepresented students at Valpo, and positively contributes to civic relationships with the city of Valparaiso, including the planning of a “student police academy” for the last three years.
One of the things the group is doing to advocate for VU Social Work is creating an advocacy form for anyone to fill out and share their experiences with how social work has impacted them.
“It's not just for Social Work grads, we think that a lot of other people have also been impacted by social work,” Taube said. “And we actually recently got a quote, I think it was from a mathematics student, saying, ‘I'm a math major, and that's what I do. But because of my interactions and relationships with social work students, I am better at that.’ And I hope that that's true for engineering students, and for really, anyone who cares, who knows, VU social work and the impact it can make.”
Additionally, Taube says that they know “there will be a lot of different decision makers in this process,” and asks that people write or talk to administration. For further information follow @SaveVUSocialWork on Instagram where the advocacy form is linked in their bio.