Friday, March 21, 2008

Diversity Seminar at the School of Journalism

It's me again....I briefly attended the Mary I. Benedict Critical Issues Seminar at the School of Journalism today. I just found out this is an annual gig the school does for high school students involved in journalism, photography and the yearbook. The guest speaker was Mercedes Lynn De Uriarte, University of Texas at Austin's associate professor of the school of journalism. Today the seminar was about diversity! And boy, it was a juicy seminar because Ms. De Uriarte, and the other facilitators, mentioned that diversity goes beyond skin color, origin of birth and language. The seminar had a strong focus on intellectual diversity and how these high school students could break out of the monotonous mold of journalistic writing. IUPUI journalism faculty and Ms. De Uriarte encouraged the students to reflect on their school newspaper and pin-point what was lacking....and where was the diversity? Did the paper reflect their school? Are these students digging deep enough to capture diverse stories for the paper? Are these students stepping out of their comfort zones in order to interview a diverse person or seek a diverse issue?

This seminar was a great eye-opener for me. Diversity has become an important idea. A goal. An issue. A fear. A gem. A realization.

The facilitators wanted the students to critical think, and as a visitor at the event, I too began to think. This whole event reminds me of the many conversations I have with Ash about diversity, and how there is a stereotype ABOUT diversity - that it is just about race, ethnicity and religion. Race, ethnicity and religion are some of the many facets OF diversity....or maybe even a sub-sub-category. Let's think about it.

On another note, this seminar got my noodle in motion (my brain guys!). Do our library collections reflect the university as a whole? Do we have a diverse collection? I can say that while working on the most recent display case I had some trouble finding information on some Black poets when I searched the UL collections. So why does our library lack here? How can this be improved?

Also, does our library environment welcome all diversity? Do the library tools such as the computers, chairs, rooms, phones, printers, books, etc. (anything you can think of) target and satisfy our diverse patrons and users? Let's think about it.

Does our library organize diverse events? Does our library organize events for diverse groups or reasons? Let's think about it.

Just some food for thought,

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