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SU social work representative wants position to count towards practicum

By Ashar Memon, November 29 2017 —

Students’ Union Faculty of Social Work representative Marissa Bennett is working on a proposal to make her position on Students’ Legislative Council count towards the social work program practicum requirement, a move she likened to “killing two birds with one stone.”

Social work students must complete at least one practicum during the final year of their program. According to the faculty’s website, the practicum is the “heart of social work education.”

Bennett, in her third year of the social work program, hopes making the position count towards the practicum will make it more accessible.

“In our fourth year, we have 700 hours of practicum to do — that can be a barrier because we’re often not on campus. A lot of the time people get into [the social work representative] position but then they resign,” Bennett said. “I would like to get the students and the position into a place where the position is filled normally.”

No students ran for the position of social work representative in either the 2016 or 2017 SU general elections. Bennett was acclaimed to the position in the October byelection, running unopposed.

Students enter the social work program either in their third year, or as mature students if they hold a social work diploma. Bennett says that students aren’t able to run in SU elections in their third year, as they often find out of their acceptance in June and SU elections are held in March.

“In making the position a practicum, you give students the opportunity to be in a position that does give great advocacy experience, does give great policy experience,” she said.

Bennett said she ran for the position to see if she wanted to work with policy design in the future.

Carrie Blaug, the Faculty of Social Work’s Calgary practicum coordinator, is working with Bennett to evaluate her proposal. She said that Bennett’s efforts are “very exciting.”

“It is wonderful to hope to have social workers in positions of leadership and advocacy — it is a big part of what social workers do,” she said. “The practicum is really where the rubber hits the road, where students integrate their classroom textbook learning with practice.”

Blaug said that it is unclear whether the proposal will be approved in time for Bennett to receive hours towards her own practicum. She said that Bennett has not yet submitted the proposal for review.

Blaug added that she believes the position could align with the objectives of the social work program and fulfil what the faculty wants students to gain from the practicum.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea and I’m always eager and open to working with students to explore their ideas,” she said.

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