by Meghan Caprez
Last night, I attended “Real Talk: Uncut & Uncensored,” a discussion about issues in diversity in student media hosted by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Student Voice Team.
If you haven’t heard about it, the Student Voice Team is a group of JMC students who are champions for diversity; they want to help solve issues in diversity as well as increase inclusion both in the classroom and outside it.
After identifying a need for students to be heard, the team worked with both student media and student organization leaders to create “Real Talk.” At the event, students discussed the problems they had with the language student media was using to describe certain organizations and events on campus, the mixed messages they received about getting involved and more.
While the discussion mostly focused on student media, I learned a lot about what PRSSA Kent can do as an organization to increase inclusion and be more welcoming to students from all walks of life.
We definitely aren’t perfect, but we’re working on it. With the help of some of our members and the Student Voice Team, we identified some places PRSSA can improve in terms of inclusion.
PRSSA is making a conscious effort to bring in a more diverse group of speakers this semester and next fall. We want to make sure our members not only feel connected to each other but also feel connected to the professionals in the public relations industry; there are many different kinds of people who do PR, and we want to make sure each of those kinds is represented at our meetings.
This year, our team of officers grew to an all-time high of 16 individuals, most of whom are straight, white females. We’ve discovered that a group of leaders this large who all appear to look and think alike is not inclusive, and it may seem to promote cliques. The PRSSA Kent e-board is currently working on adjusting the bylaws to decrease the number of officer positions while increasing the opportunities for members to get more involved.
PRSSA has changed and is changing the way it recruits new members. Following our parent organization’s (PRSA) guidelines, we have added new portions to our membership application to better understand the diverse group of people we serve at Kent State. Additionally, we are working with the Student Voice Team to organize a student involvement fair specifically for those who feel underrepresented in both student media and student organizations in JMC. We want everyone who is interested in public relations to be a part of our organization, no matter what they identify as in terms of race, gender, sexuality, etc.
If you have any other ideas or issues in PRSSA you would like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to make PRSSA the most welcoming environment it can be for everyone, and with your help, we can be.