Ithaca College

Ithaca College Holds First Diversity Town Hall Meeting

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In light of Michael Brown, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and the ongoing national debate regarding institutionalized racism, students at Ithaca College held the school’s first diversity town hall meeting. Student leaders gathered this afternoon to discuss and brainstorm ideas to work toward a more diverse campus, focusing primarily on diversity issues related to the college’s African, Latino/a, Asian, and Native American (ALANA) community, but also including topics such as gender and sexually.

Instead of just talking about the issue, students were asked to come up with specific solutions to problems in which they feel are directly related to a lack of diversity on campus. Maybe someone of color was given odd looks as soon as they stepped into a room full of white people. Maybe someone received microaggressive comments from a peer and didn’t know how to handle it. Maybe there aren’t enough professors of color in a school. How can we address these issues, and, more importantly, what are we going to do to prevent these things from happening again?

School administrators sat in on the meeting and took note of the various suggestions that students had for diversifying the campus. Students also participated in a series of discussion-based activities, such as filling out an identity worksheet in order to share the most salient parts of their identity.

The town hall meeting today served as the infrastructure to a future of possibilities. The idea here was to start planning a course of action–what can we do as students to help make the campus a more inviting place for students of color? We’ve had endless discussions about the problem, so now it’s time to actually do something about it.

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Learning To Recognize Microaggression

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Earlier this week, Ithaca College’s student run newspaper, The Ithacan, published a special opinion piece written by a student. The commentary, which was in response to the release of the school’s 2012 campus climate survey results, primarily focused on the issue of microaggressions still being perpetuated throughout the campus.

According to Psychology Today, microaggressions are defined by the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. A racial microaggression, therefore, would be if a white woman clutched her purse as a person of color walked by on the street, suggesting that their minority group can be dehumanized to merely a bunch of criminals

Perhaps the bigger issue here, however, is that there aren’t a lot of people in our society who are able to recognize them.

A while back, I wrote a piece talking about the various microaggressions I’ve personally had directed toward me. Looking back on it, what struck me the most about writing this piece is the fact that I myself wasn’t able to be conscious of the microaggressive comments I was hearing on a daily basis.

“Where are you really from? You look kind of exotic. You speak English so well for an immigrant! You don’t even act Hispanic.” These were meant to be compliments.

What most–let’s be frank–white people don’t realize is that microaggressions have been hardwired into our culture, allowing those in the majority to sincerely believe that they are not doing anything offensive. An article published in the American Psychological Association suggests that microaggressive comments are made by “well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them”.

There are times where jokes can be made and certain questions can be asked. But we need to educate ourselves on what exactly we are perpetuating when we comment on a specific racial group. Race, in general, is meant to act as a political categorization technique derived as far back as the 15th century. How can we progress as a society if we aren’t able to be aware of racializations?

Maybe we should have paid more attention in elementary school when our teachers taught us to “think before we speak”…

Ithaca Celebrates Black History Month With Communal Events

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February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate and learn about the vast historical milestones of blacks around the world. From Jackie Robinson to Maya Angelou, this particular month celebrates both people and events that illustrate just how important it is to promote the education of significant black historical figures who have influenced today’s society.

From a more local point of view, February is a time for the people of Ithaca to commemorate the different cultures spread across the town, as well as within Ithaca College. Promoting both diversity and a communal education, “Ithacans” gathered to create a broad celebration of the different features of black culture.

Ithaca College’s African Latino Society (ALS) held a string of events throughout the month to promote said education on campus, each focusing on a different theme regarding black history and/or current political, social and cultural issues related to race and ethnicity. The events ranged from a screening and discussion of the film Brown Sugarto lectures on selected topics.

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How to be a Modern Journalist: A Discussion with Aaron Edwards

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For young aspiring journalists, taking the first steps into the fast-paced world of news reporting can be somewhat of a challenge. You’re young, fresh out of college, not very experienced but very eager to make a name for yourself within the industry…so how do you do it?

For Ithaca College alum and Buzzfeed‘s News app editor Aaron Edwards, it was all about keeping an open mind. Students in the Mobile and Media Journalism class at the college got a chance to chat with him via Skype to find out what it really takes to be successful in this business.

“Be more open to what your fist job might look like than what you anticipated it to be,” Edwards says. “Being open to things is better than being closed off by them.”

Sure, the first jobs a budding news reporter might apply for would be for newspapers and broadcasting channels. However, the way we consume and report media is constantly changing, which means that those just starting out in the business must be willing to adapt to the latest methods of news reporting. That may mean starting off with a job in a field that may not be ideal. There’s often a preconceived notion that to be a reporter you have to start off, well, as a reporter. Nowadays, the need for reporters isn’t as high as the demand for social media experts–but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be forever stuck within a branch you didn’t want to be in.

“The technology industry keeps beating journalism, so people become really valuable when they know how to use all social media,” he says.

That isn’t to say that all the traditional techniques of old-school reporting should be tossed out the window. According to Edwards, it’s still very important to maintain a strong reporting and writing background. Although it might seem as if news reports may be getting shorter and more to the point, journalists should still have a grasp for traditional news formats. I mean, you wouldn’t stop teaching kids how to read just because there’s a text-to-speech app on almost every technological apparatus…at least, I’d hope you wouldn’t…

But the most important piece of advice Edwards gives is probably one that most of us overlook.

“When you start off, dedicate yourself to the work you’re doing,” he says. “Own the fact that you’re there. Throw yourself into your job; don’t start off by trying to impress other people.”

During his days as a young intern for The Associated Press, the best work Edwards did was a result of him sitting head-down at his desk, for hours on end, and focusing solely on his tasks at hand.

“Give people a reason to come to you. Don’t give them a reason to ignore you.”