AU social work students advocate social issues in Springfield

Social Work students at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. Recently 63 Aurora University social work students attended Social Work Advocacy Day at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. They were accompanied by faculty members Don Phelps, Associate Professor of Social Work, and Craig Winkeler, Visiting Instructor of Social Work, and joined by more than 800 social workers and social work students from across the state to participate in a half day of educational seminars on lobbying, followed by an afternoon at the capital.

The trip provided the students with an opportunity to meet with Governor Pat Quinn and learn about social policy issues while also meeting with and watching their legislators debate issues on the house and senate floor.

“By participating in Social Work Advocacy Day, students had the opportunity to talk with legislators about social issues that are important to them,” says Phelps. “They also hear from state leaders about the most pressing social problems and the various ways they are trying to address them.”

In Phelps’ social welfare policy class, students analyze and discuss various pieces of legislation and the social issues that pertain to them. Then they are able to utilize what they have learned in the classroom by attending events such as the Social Work Advocacy Day, which gives students a chance to become more comfortable approaching state legislators and allows them to play a participatory role in democracy.

JJ Albarran, a junior social work major, thought Phelps’ course helped him better understand how the state legislation process works and the best way to approach legislators about pressing concerns. “My classmates and I were able to see how policies go through legislation in Springfield,” says Albarran. “We were also given the opportunity to network with state legislators who are passionate about the same issues we are advocating for.”