December 1, 2022 at 8:02 AM

Until we are all free, we are none of us free

Dear CSSW Community,

December 1st marks the day where the world comes together to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and memorialize those we have lost. During the same month, we also celebrate the actions of the United Nations General Assembly to codify the basic human rights of every person. The theme this year for World AIDS Day is equalize and for the 75th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human rights it is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.

At the core of each movement, we are being encouraged to reflect on what it means to have universal, inalienable rights — and how best to strive for a world in which all feel this to be true, for every person. We know that the systemic inequities within healthcare, for instance, lead to the disproportionate impact of diseases like HIV/AIDS on communities of color. We know that there is food insecurity and water insecurity; and that access to quality education for all is a constant battle around the world. And as social work practitioners and researchers, you are committed to live out the mandate of fighting for everyone’s rights as your calling.

Let us use today and this month (and every day for that matter) to ensure that we are advocating for those with identities that push them to the margins of our world. To paraphrase the powerful words of two inspiring activists, Emma Lazarus and Fannie Lou Hamer, none of us are free until all of us are free; thank you for doing your part to make this so.

Join us in taking the pledge this year for Universal Human Rights Month as well as lifting up the very tangible ways we are being encouraged to advocate for those who are living with HIV/AIDS.

The pledge


I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you.


When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will stand up.


I will raise my voice. I will take action. I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.

In community,

Melissa Begg

Dean & Professor

Karma Lowe

Senior Associate Dean for DEI, Enrollment, & Community Engagement