On June 2, 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication vowed to continue studying and working to change the structural inequalities that vex our university, our communities, and the wider society. Through our daily work as academics and educators we asserted our commitment to making this world a safer, more productive, more equitable place for everyone. Inspired by our graduate students and their own commitment to social justice, we have created an action plan to guide us in furthering this commitment.
Tenets of our plan:
- Adding a new learning objective to our curriculum: “Foster an appreciation of the importance of inclusion, social justice, and bias in media professions and communication research, particularly as they relate to issues of race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, disability and other identities, as well as how these identities interconnect.”
- Expanding our recruitment efforts for a diverse student body through increased community relation building and outreach; and continuing our rigorous efforts to hire diverse faculty and staff.
- Developing a series of modules for SJMC faculty, staff and teaching assistants around structural racism that can be readily available in our journalism and strategic communication courses, in order to increase inclusion and anti-racism education.
- Hosting regular workshops and speaker series on the relationships between journalism, strategic communication, and research, with structures of power, policing, and the justice system. We will pay particular attention to journalism’s coverage of protest, race, and inequality, and how communication can be harnessed to construct equality.
- Promoting social justice training to SJMC faculty, staff, and students.
- Developing an SJMC reading/media list for students and faculty around social justice.
- Restructuring our internal committee structure so that the Inclusion and Diversity Committee becomes central to all departmental activities, with liaisons to all other departmental committees, and student representation on it.
Leading institutions of higher education cannot be detached from the plight of our communities. This is particularly true when those burdens are disproportionately shared by some groups. Through our scholarship and everyday practices we are committed to justice and equity for groups segregated by historical and structural inequalities. As communication scholars and educators we will not be indifferent to injustice and will continuously advocate for social reforms that foster a world in which all can thrive.