Areas for improvement
When considering feedback related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the four recurring themes that emerged were:
- There are too few people of color.
- Media School students experience microaggressions and discrimination.
- There is a need for diversity, equity, and inclusion education.
- There is a lack of community among students, and within student organizations.
1. There are too few people of color.
Students described feelings of isolation due to the lack of people of color in the student body, and in faculty and staff positions.
"I thought I would see more people of color. I guess I thought that as I would progress in coursework and classes, I would see more people who look like me or professors who look like me. I don't think that was the case. There have been multiple times where there's just me and another girl who identifies as Black in several classes together."
"I was very open and talkative around people in high school but coming to college felt a little weird being the only POC and drawing more attention to myself. There wasn't a lot of interaction. I didn't really speak unless I was called on. I hated participation point kinds of things."
"I think there is a lack of Black people — men and women — in The Media School, even in all majors. I wasn't under that impression coming in but that I really realized as I progressed and I'm just wondering why that is and what can be done about that. And compared to other schools on campus as well. There just seems to be a lack of Black people."
"[I would recommend that incoming students] maybe find another group outside of The Media School that is more tailored to your identity because you won't find that in The Media School... You won't get that interaction with people who look like you in The Media School."
"[I would recommend that incoming students] look for at least a few people in your inner circle who are like you in some aspect. It could be gender, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status, etc., it can be really intimidating to have people around you who are not like you."
2. Media School students experience microaggressions and discrimination.
Students described instances of discrimination ranging from direct discrimination to microaggressions experienced personally or by someone close to them. These experiences, which occurred within The Media School and within the Bloomington community, resulted in students feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, and unwelcome.
"One of my friends was doing a class project and one of her group mates wasn't willing to do part of the work so she asked him to and he called her a brown b-word for that. She went to the professor with it and they were like 'Oh, we can just put you in a different group.' So that's all she did. She didn't feel safe in the class after that... like she would take a different route home."
"I've never experienced anything like that within The Media School. I've experienced stuff like that in Bloomington. I was in downtown Bloomington when someone told me to go back to my home country and it was a whole thing."
"There was a little microaggression that continued for a whole year and I don't know why I or the other girl didn't say anything. But it was me and another girl who was Black and we were in a class and our teacher would sometimes confuse names, which happens, but also passing back papers. He would give me her paper and I would get hers and we would have to get up in the middle of class and walk to each other to switch papers. It was uncomfortable to do that every single day."
"My least favorite part has been people who are super ignorant. I've had comments that are microaggressions."
"For students as a whole, there are some moments that I feel like I'm expected to do the work because of whatever stereotype they may have about me."
This discussion led to the acknowledgment of the need for safety and support when reporting instances of discrimination.
"I think more than it being accessible, people are afraid of retaliation. Like if they complain about a fellow student and it gets found out that they did then they would, physical violence would happen. Especially if they've been threatened or given racial slurs thrown at them, then I guess it's scary and I feel like supporting people after the reporting incident is important and just making the whole process seem safe and anonymous."
"I don't know for sure if the professor was tenured, but they were so situated in their ways of doing things hadn't quite shifted to today's time. Overall, the way the course was approached was old fashioned. I talked to the professor and told them it didn't sit right with me, but I know there are a lot of kids that wouldn't feel comfortable doing that and would brush it aside. That's why the professor has been allowed to continue doing it. I'm sure I'm not the only student who has been offended by this. What other checks and balances are in place for this? I know there's the course questionnaires, but to be honest I'm not sure that students will usually not write a heartfelt letter about "this was offensive to me." Something needs to be in place to protect the students who don't feel like they can speak up in a situation like that."
3. There is a need for diversity, equity, and inclusion education.
Students described a lack of knowledge, awareness, or respect for equity and inclusivity.
"I feel that most of the issues I've seen stem from students not being used to being around people of color or working with women. I don't have a specific suggestion, but we need to figure out how to expose people to this because you have to work with all different types of people, even after college. Finding a way to work that into coursework, so they can understand this is who these people are and they're not that different from you."
"I've had several people tell me that I'm that first Black person they've ever met, which isn't something I thought was still happening."
"As media students we know there are other cultures with really progressive film industries so it would be interesting to see class on Chinese film and entertainment, for example. Classes that focus on different cultures and media."
"Something to be implemented is a course on diversity in media and why that is important. Something to educate folks on diversity in the media and what it looks like or what that means. A class or a discussion or Gather series"
"I know there is a culture day outside The Media School. In the school, more classes on race and cinema to help students be more aware."
"And this isn't anybody's fault at The Media School ... sometimes I've met some people who are not as inclusive or understand the importance of diversity, who are in The Media School."
"Sometimes it feels like in class I’m expected to say stuff because I'm a person of color. Like we'll watch an ad in the Middle East and then people ask what you notice. It's always silent and I have to point things out because I'm a person of color."
"I don't want to downplay anyone else's experiences, but I feel like Black people at the school get ignored a lot. I'm not sure what the statistics are for the percentages of each racial minority, but there have been some lectures where I'm thinking, I don't know about that. But when there are like five people of color in class and one or two are Black people, in lecture those off-hand comments seem normal. It's weird to sit through that and everyone else is just fine with that. It does feel like people can't speak up in class because people can't respond to a full tenured professor in front of all those people."
4. There is a lack of community among students, and within student organizations.
Students described a lack of connection with other students at The Media School.
"Students I have not made a large connection with. It is not that I feel unsupported; I feel unconnected to them. If I felt more connected, I would feel more supported."
"To me it doesn't feel like a community where things happen, it just feels like something that we do. I'm not hanging out with people at The Media School or going to events."
"The one thing that I didn't get was the closer-knit community because The Media School is so big that it's hard to know everybody. I know a couple of my professors but I don't really have those relationships that I thought I would."
"I thought I would make a lot of friends from Media School classes or Media School clubs. Most of my friends are from cultural clubs."
"I agree that the media industry is creative and everyone wants to have their own thing and people are focused on themselves. People are only worried about their own thing so that can be why there is less community."
The lack of community extended to the environments in the student organizations. Students described feeling unwelcome and excluded, and described situations where they felt they were treated differently due to a lack of understanding about their culture.
"I have been involved in Media School clubs. IUSTV... I almost feel like I am excluded and... no one is bullying me, it is just you cannot relate to people. You have a difficult time working with them or feel included ... that is why it is disappointing for me."
"I was never invited to [IDS] social outings. Which is fine since I was a new employee there but it's hard to work for a place if you cannot vibe with the people... I never felt like the student employees were invested in me improving my work... Felt like each week I got an assignment, not much feedback or follow-up or relationship building."
"I tried to explain to my [IDS] editor that I wasn't able to [accept late night assignments] because I'm not used to it and she was not very understanding. So tiny things like that, I guess. Cultural differences."
"I really shied away from the IDS for almost as long as I possibly could... there's no one who looked like me and it seemed a little elitist in the way that they act and speak about things. Not the organization but the people. I was in class with these people. A lot of them had the means to have summer internships out of state where you had to provide your own housing and be unpaid and I could not do something like that, have an unpaid internship and also find a way to pay for housing. But it was like if you didn't get these internships you weren't a good reporter and you don't know what you're doing. It's kinda cliquey... I don't think I got as much out of my major as I possibly could because of that. I felt very uncomfortable in that space."