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Columns: Gaining Confidence with the MediaAn Opportunity to Showcase Campus Diversity Activities
News clips from: WashingtonCaliforniaArizonaMinnesotaNew YorkConnecticut

Making Diversity News

Gaining Confidence with the Media
Linda Epps, Vice President for Student Affairs, Bloomfield College

Four years ago, I never thought I would be comfortable talking to the media. I worried that I might say something wrong and I lacked confidence in my ability to synthesize information for reporters.

Then I participated in a media training workshop at an AAC&U conference. It wasn’t easy being interviewed on videotape, but it made me more confident about being “put on the spot.” One of the tips that I now always use is to make only a few points several times to help the audience remember my message.

My first opportunity to use my newfound skill was an editorial commentary on Superstation WOR. WOR contacted Bloomfield College and asked if we would offer an editorial commentary on a topic of our choosing. I suggested diversity, because it truly defines Bloomfield College. President Noonan asked me to do the piece.

The experience was a little intimidating. I had to sit perfectly still while they posed me. I was given just 25 seconds to speak. It was difficult to distill all my arguments--but I did it. Friends and colleagues who saw the editorial were delighted that someone (especially someone they knew) was speaking out on this critical issue in such a widely-viewed forum.

Sometime later, I spoke on a panel at a leadership retreat and used many of the pointers I had learned in the media training. A New York Times editor who attended the retreat later asked me to write a feature article on changes in higher education for the New Jersey edition of the New York Times.

In only one workshop, I learned how to more effectively talk to the media. I’ve learned the discipline of honing in on key talking points. I have also found myself watching people on news programs more critically--noting what to do and what not to do.

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An Opportunity to Showcase Campus Diversity Activities

On October 6, the Ford Foundation’s Campus Diversity Initiative will release a nationwide poll that explores Americans’ attitudes toward diversity in higher education. The release is designed to promote a national dialogue and to give colleges and universities across the nation a chance to inform the media and the public of the diversity work on their campuses.

The October 6 news conference will be broadcast via satellite, available for downlinking by campuses or television stations. The coordinates will be posted on DiversityWeb (http://www.diversityweb.org) approximately three weeks in advance. Diversity practitioners may want to work with their public information offices to:

  • Generate an op/ed piece (guest editorial) authored by a student or recent graduate that underscores the value of a diverse student body, faculty and curriculum;
  • Pitch local radio talk or television public affairs programs to cover the poll results and feature a guest from campus who can discuss the impact of diversity; and/or
  • Plan discussion groups to discuss the poll results and attitudes toward diversity in your community.

Information on the poll results will be available on DiversityWeb the morning of October 6. Send questions about how to use the poll to CDImaterials@prsolutionsdc.com

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News Clips

Washington State

“Those of us in education have long known that students get more out of time in the classroom than just math or literature. They learn to respect and to stretch themselves, to tackle new ideas, and to work respectfully with a variety of people. Sitting in class with fellow students of different cultures, ages and life experiences goes a long way toward shattering stereotypes and encouraging critical thinking. It makes for a healthy learning environment and a healthy society.” South Puget Sound Community College President Kenneth J. Minnaert explaining why diversity is critical to the mission of the College. (“Diversity is the Key to Education at SPSCC,” The Olympian, 4 May 1998)

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“We are not a minority institution, but a university whose diversity brings us closer to the elusive ideals this country was founded on…In large measure, this country was founded by a very diverse group of people, as was Los Angeles. We’re the West Coast, 21st century model of the City University of New York.” California State University, Los Angeles President James Rosser speaking at the school’s 50 year commemorative celebration about the important role of diversity in the university’s history. (“Cal State L.A., Its Alumni Mark 50 Years of Diversity,” Los Angeles Times, 20 May 1998)

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“The question, then, is not whether we should address diversity and multiculturalism in the curriculum, but how to do it in ways that strengthen our democratic commitments… This study should include knowledge of diverse cultural traditions and histories, including one’s own. The goal is to graduate students who are both prepared and inspired to take responsibility for the future of our diverse democracy.” Association of American Colleges and Universities President Carol Geary Schneider stressing the importance of a thoughtful approach to addressing diversity and multiculturalism in the curriculum. (“Diversity Courses in College Curricula: Question ‘Not Whether, but How’,” The Arizona Republic, 4 May, 1998)

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“For a campus our size, we have to create not only cultural centers but communities, so (students) don’t feel alienated. All 18- or 19-year-olds are struggling with issues of identity”… . “Being a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle-class male, I am granted many opportunities …(and) by not understanding this I contribute to the oppression of others.” University of Minnesota associate vice president for multicultural affairs Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo and student John Richardson, commenting on the importance of programs like Diversity Connections where students can have honest discussions about race, gender, class and sexuality. (“Campus-Diversity Talks Build Community,” USA Today, 15 July 1998)

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New York

“To my mind, the profound, and irreversible, demographic changes under way in this country provide the moral, economic, and constitutional justification necessary for viewing as a compelling state interest the inclusion of minority-group students in colleges and universities. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the middle of the next century, the American population will be roughly half Caucasian, half people of color. Blacks and Latinos will constitute nearly 40 percent of the populace… The more highly educated our growing minority population is, the more competitive our economy and cohesive our society will be.” National Urban League President Hugh B. Price arguing for a new approach to defending affirmative action. (“Fortifying the Case for Diversity and Affirmative Action,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 22 May 1998)

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“I am a recent college graduate, soon to start a first job. Little in my background has prepared me so well for what lies ahead as the diversity of people and opinions I encountered over the past four years. Opponents of affirmative action fail to understand that the ‘real world’ in which college graduates like me will live and work is a rapidly diversifying country on a rapidly shrinking globe.” Rebecca Knight, recent graduate of Wesleyan University, emphasizing the important role of a diverse student body in preparing graduates to succeed after graduation. (“Leg Up for Minorities Turns College Into Life,” USA Today, 9 July 1998)

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