The Meek School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘inclusivity’

UM PR students win top award from Southern PR Federation: Lantern award recognizes It Starts with (Me)ek campaign

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by ldrucker

A Meek School of Journalism and New Media campaign asking students to “just pause” before stereotyping others has won a top award from the Southern Public Relations Federation.

The Lantern award was presented in the internal communications category at the Southern Public Relations Federation conference in Tupelo Sept. 26. Awards are presented at three levels in multiple categories, and the Lantern is the highest level.

The winning campaign, It Starts with (Me)ek, was created and implemented by a team of 31 students led by Senior Lecturer Robin Street. Judges for the competition repeatedly praised the “great job” the team did.

ISWM was a week of speakers, programs and communications encouraging inclusion and respect while rejecting stereotypes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, mental health, religion or other factors. UM alumnus Shepard Smith spoke at two of the events.

A Meek School anti-stereotyping campaign won a top honor, the Lantern award, from the Southern Public Relations Federation. Pictured here are some of the 31 Meek students who served on the campaign committee under the leadership of Senior Lecturer Robin Street, far right. Front, from left, IMC major Kaitlin Childress from Brandon and IMC graduate student Bianca Abney from Moss Point. Back, from left IMC majors Kendrick Pittman from Kosciusko and Zacchaeus McEwen from McComb, with journalism graduate student Chi Kalu from Nigeria. Photo by Stan O’Dell.

Student committee members enrolled in an integrated marketing communications course helped create the campaign. They met weekly to plan events, videos, communications, competitions and social media posts.

“Our students worked for months to plan and implement all the components of the campaign,” said Street, who taught the class. “They spent every Wednesday night in class and countless additional hours working on their individual tasks and assignments. I was so proud to see all their hard work and true dedication be recognized.”

Scott Fiene, assistant dean for curriculum and assessment and assistant professor, directs the IMC program at the Meek School. He attended the award ceremony with Street and several students.

“Our student team entered in the professional category,” Fiene said. “So they were judged, not by student criteria, but by professional standards. I noticed that they were the only students to win a professional award that night.  The award exemplifies how well all our faculty prepare our students for their careers in journalism, public relations and integrated marketing communications.”

For more information on the Meek School, visit meek.olemiss.edu.

Opinion: What the ‘It Starts With MEek’ campaign taught me

Posted on: April 28th, 2017 by ldrucker

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It Starts With MEek is a campaign that affects every student on and off campus. Behind each talk is an obstacle every human being faces at least once – racism, sexism, homophobia.

The first event I attended was led by Jennifer Stollman, who spoke about about how difference is good when building a healthy community. I was more than thrilled to hear about her talk of cultural difference, since I come from a mixed background.

Being from the Dominican Republic with an Italian mom and an American dad and ending up in Mississippi is not entirely easy. However, Stollman’s talk made me realize it is not supposed to be easy. Instead, it has to be challenging, and it’s an opportunity I am lucky to have.

What are we without culture? Without difference? These are questions I have never dared to ask myself until now. I realized that without diversity I am not myself. Diversity is what makes me, and I am what makes diversity.

Everybody on campus has difference in them. That can be in the way they talk, think, dress, and even eat. We are all different in different ways. Without it, as Stollman said, we become “bored, ill and depressed.” Imagine if everybody had the same ideas or thought the same? How boring would that be?

“Welcome to the world! Nobody is the same,” Stollman said proud and loud. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. “You interact with people different then you everyday,” she said.

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Jennifer Stollman giving her speech on cultural difference. Photo by Jessica Duffield.

I thought about these words for a long time. I came to the conclusion that we tend to not see this anymore because we have become such a selfish world where change scares us. We run away from people and things that don’t look, think and talk like us. We want everything to feel like home. Safe. Comfortable.

From my personal experience, nothing is going to feel like home, but that is OK. I can try as hard as I want to make Mississippi my home, but it is not. I, instead, adapt to it. I live it. I learn from it. And I promise, if you do this, you will survive, you will make it, and you will learn much more than you ever will in your home.

If it feels like home, you are doing it wrong.

The biggest challenge we face as a community is to listen. “How can we learn about difference if we do not listen?” Stollman asked.

If we do not listen to others about how they have lived, then we do not get to judge them.

I have been told,”You don’t have an accent,” or “You don’t look Dominican,” or even, “Are you sure you were born in the Dominican Republic?”

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MEek campaign slogan, photo by: Jessica Duffield

Listen to me. Don’t stereotype me. You listen to Spanish music. You eat Spanish food, but you don’t listen to me.

Stollman said: “Put yourselves in other people’s shoes, not your shoes on somebody else.”

We have to try to understand other people before they can understand us. Live their story, understand their thoughts, and most importantly, listen to them. If you do this, if you engage in other ways, then they will engage with you.

Stollman said that by sharing stories, people are “not trying to fix you, but share with you.” They are not trying to convert you to think the same way they do.

I am not trying to convert you to think the same way my culture taught me to. I just want to share with you. Don’t be afraid. It is not scary to realize that people live life differently from you. Stollman taught me that my culture, my difference, my language, is my power.

Jessica Duffield is Meek School student and a reporter for Oxford Stories. She can be reached at jfduffie@go.olemiss.edu.

Meek School of Journalism to host ‘It Starts With MEek’ diversity conference April 19-25

Posted on: April 13th, 2017 by ldrucker

UM public relations students, led by senior lecturer Robin Street (center), have planned It Starts with (Me)ek, five days of campus events celebrating inclusion and rejecting stereotypes. The committee includes (kneeling, from left) Emma Arnold and Brittanee Wallace, and (standing) Kendrick Pittman, Dylan Lewis, Street, Zacchaeus McEwen and Faith Fogarty. Photo by Stan O’Dell

Just pause. Just pause before you assume you know me. Just pause before you stereotype me.

That’s the message of an upcoming series of events April 19-25 called It Starts with (Me)ek, hosted by the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Shepard Smith, a UM alumnus and chief news anchor and managing editor for Fox News Network’s Breaking News Division, is among the keynote speakers.

The five-day conference open to all students, faculty, staff and community members is designed to encourage inclusion and respect while rejecting stereotypes. It will feature panelists and guest speakers discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religion. A diversity fashion show and a festival also are included.

“This campaign is particularly important to our Meek School students because as professional journalists, public relations specialists or integrated marketing communications specialists, students will be dealing with and working with many different kinds of people,” said Robin Street, senior lecturer in public relations.

“We all need to learn the value of waiting before we make assumptions about other people. However, we also hope that everyone on campus and in Oxford will consider joining us for the programs.”

The program, designed to remind participants that one single factor does not define a person’s identity, was created by a 31-member student committee under Street’s direction. Through each panel and lecture, Street hopes all attendees will learn to approach individuals with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion.

Both alumni and students will participate in panels about their personal experiences on race, sexual orientation, mental health, religion and disabilities. Smith will moderate an alumni panel, as well as provide remarks on April 21.

Other guest speakers include Michele Alexandre, UM professor of law; Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement; Mary Beth Duty, owner of Soulshine Counseling and Wellness; Jesse Holland, an Associated Press reporter covering race and ethnicity; Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement; Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion; Otis Sanford, political commentator and Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis; Jennifer Stollman, academic director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; and Ryan Whittington, UM assistant director of public relations for social media strategy.

Duty, Holland, Sanford and Whittington are all Ole Miss journalism alumni.

Student committee members enrolled in a course specifically to design the campaign. The group met weekly to plan events, promotional videos, communications, pre-campaign competitions and social media posts surrounding the five-day conference.

Rachel Anderson, a senior double major in broadcast journalism and Spanish from Chesapeake, Virginia, is co-chair of events and will moderate one of the panels.

“These events give students the opportunity to understand the experiences of people both similar and different from them,” Anderson said. “Understanding the experiences of others can help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.

“I hope attendees understand that we all have our differences, but at the same time, we also share so much in common. There is much more to people than outside appearances. One trait does not limit someone’s entire identity.”

Dylan Lewis, a senior broadcast journalism major from Mooreville, will serve on the LGBTQ student panel.

“The things we say or think about people affect everyone around us,” Lewis said. “Stereotypes hurt specific people or groups being stereotyped, but in reality it hurts all of us because our friends are part of those marginalized groups. When they hurt, we all hurt.

“While this campaign may not end stereotypes completely, it is a way to start the conversation, hence our campaign name ‘It Starts With (Me)ek.’ I hope students come to just see the perspectives of these individuals and realize that just pausing, our key message, can make a difference when trying to understand someone.”

The conference concludes with a festival April 25 on the front lawn of Farley Hall. Students are encouraged to wear purple to show their support, while faculty and staff will wear 1960s-inspired outfits to celebrate the many activist movements of the decade.

Students wearing purple will get a free treat from Chick-fil-A. If students have attended at least two events throughout the week and have their program stamped, they will receive a free T-shirt.

All events take place in Overby auditorium or in the front lawn of Farley Hall. For more information, visit https://www.itstartswithmeek.com/ or follow the campaign on social media at https://www.instagram.com/itstartswithmeek/ or https://twitter.com/StartsWithMeek.

The full schedule for the series features:

Wednesday, April 19

10 a.m. – Opening ceremony

11 a.m. – Lecture: “Other Moments: A Class Photography Exercise in Honoring Difference at Ole Miss,” Mark Dolan, associate professor of journalism

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Making a Difference by Engaging with Difference,” Jennifer Stollman, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Tell Me a Story: Using Personal Narratives to Navigate Cultural Difference,” Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement

Thursday, April 20

9:30 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “From James Meredith to Millennials: Race Relations at Ole Miss,” moderated by Shawnboda Mead, director of CICCE

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow: An Inside Look at Being LGBT at UM,” moderated by journalism major Rachel Anderson

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Building Trust Within Professional and Personal Communities: A Workshop,” Jennifer Stollman

2:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Sometimes I Feel Invisible: Living with a Disability,” moderated by Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism

5:30 p.m. – Spoken Word Performance

Friday, April 21

10 a.m. – Lecture: “Race in America: A Journalist’s Perspective,” Jesse Holland, AP reporter

11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Panel Discussions: “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” black UM journalism alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Jesse Holland

2 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow Alumni,” LGBT alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Shepard Smith

3 p.m. – Lecture: “My Journey from Farley Hall to Major News Events Around the World,” Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor

4 p.m. – Reception for speakers and students

Monday, April 24

9 a.m. – Lecture: “Normal Does Not Exist, Mental Illness Does,” Mary Beth Duty, professional counselor

10 a.m. – Lecture: “From the Bible Belt to Baghdad: What Today’s IMC and Journalism Professionals Need to Know About the World’s Major Religions,” Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Keeping the Faith,” members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths discuss challenges they face, moderated by Dean Will Norton

1 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Mental Health and Me,” panelists discuss their experiences with mental health, moderated by Debbie Hall, instructor of integrated marketing communications

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Role of Individual and Institutional Accountability in Doing Diversity and Equity,” Michele Alexandre, professor of law

3 p.m. – Lecture: “Keeping it Real on Social Media: Guidelines for Handling Diversity Issues,” Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy

4 p.m. – Fashion Show: “Unity in Diversity,” entertainment on Farley Hall lawn

6 p.m. – Lecture: “Racial Politics in Memphis,” Otis Sanford, University of Memphis

Tuesday, April 25

10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. – Farley Festival Day

  • Story by Christina Steube