Students have ‘Real Talk’ about diversity issues in communications


Alexandra Valverde, member of the JMC Student Voice Team, begins the discussion of different issues in the media during the student only event, Real Talk: Uncut, in Franklin Hall on Monday, Feb. 9, 2015.

Jessica Darling

The Student Voice Team discussed diversity issues in student media’s coverage of events and inside the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) itself at “Real Talk: Uncut and Uncensored” on Feb. 9.

The Student Voice Team, a group of students who act as the liaison between JMC students and JMC director Thor Wasbotten, created the discussion so students could have a safe space to express the opinions that they keep to themselves, said Julia Adkins, co-chair of the Student Voice Team and a senior journalism major.

“A lot of students look to us to be the voice of Kent State because we are all journalism majors or something to do with communications,” Adkins said. “I think a lot of that has to do with the purpose of the Student Voice Team in general. We wanted somewhere students could come talk and express their opinions.”

Representatives from each area of student media, along with any non-JMC students who wanted to attend, were present in the Franklin Hall FirstEnergy Auditorium.

The discussion opened with an anonymous poll where students could submit responses via their cell phone. The poll asked students whether they believed student media was diverse. Of the 23 students at the event who participated, 15 said they did not feel student media was diverse.

Following the poll, members of the Student Voice Team led an open-floor discussion about why students felt it is important for student media to be diverse, not only from within their organization, but through the events they cover.

“I think everyone should care about how they are represented,” junior broadcast journalism major Jacob Derwin said. “I get mad whenever anyone of my type gets poorly represented be that a white male or Jewish.” 

Other students said they felt they did not equally represent diverse students in event coverage when it came to student media as other groups of students. 

“The point of journalism is to put the news out there,” said Marissa Barnhart, managing editor for The Burr and junior magazine journalism major. “We have to represent and accurately represent every single person on this campus and our community. If we’re not properly portraying groups of people, then are we really doing our job?”

People also said they felt that sometimes students come off as unfriendly and cliquey to those both within the school and outside of it.

“Journalism and Mass Communication specifically has a tendency to be very picky,” Barnhart said. “We kind of get lost in our own sphere, and I think we kind of lose focus. We’re so worried about getting the facts that we’re not always being thoughtful about how our words affect other people.” 

The Student Voice Team hopes to host this discussion every year and would like to keep the discussion going because there will always be different issues in the community, Adkins said.

“Kent State is not just one environment or one culture; it’s not just one culture or one representation,” Adkins said. “We have to make sure everyone sees all the different aspects within the community of Kent State.”

Contact Jessica Darling at [email protected].