Sensitivity in a Multicultural Environment

Sensitivity in a Multicultural Environment

The School of Journalism is proud of its long tradition of diversity. Each student is expected to participate in that important tradition.

Each person at the School of Journalism has the right to work in an atmosphere free from discrimination. We all share the responsibility to help create and maintain such an environment. At the most fundamental level, that environment consists of what we say and do in classrooms, hallways, offices and newsrooms.

Developing multicultural and discrimination-free attitudes is essential for future journalists and citizens who expect to spend the rest of their lives communicating in a free and diverse society. We all must be conscious of the need for an open and multicultural society-one that condemns discrimination in any form.

Discrimination often includes overt acts of unfairness. It may also include expression of attitudes and expectations that demean others based on their race, gender, gender identification, religion, place of origin, a disability, sexual orientation or age.

Demeaning actions often take the form of spoken words. Of course, words mean different things to different people. Put another way, bias is sometimes (but not always) in the mind of the beholder. For example, faculty members must provide professional assessments of students’ work. These assessments are meant to be constructive. They are not judgments about students as people. Moreover, faculty need to remember that student work is intensely personal; professional criticisms can be taken personally. Faculty members must anticipate that students may interpret criticisms as one form of discrimination. Such anticipation, handled properly, can forestall problems.

Students also need to evaluate their own and faculty members’ performance on a professional standard. Although individual comments may or may not reflect discrimination, patterns of behavior almost always do. The faculty member or student who routinely favors one group over another – in grades, assignments, comments, or subtler daily interactions – is engaging in behavior that the School condemns. All of us share the obligation to avoid inflicting needless pain. Should you encounter it, you need to act.

If you have a complaint, contact the Journalism Dean’s Office in 120 Neff Hall, or contact the director of the MU Equity Office, Noel Ann English, Memorial Union S303, or 573-882-9069. You can also report at http://equity.missouri.edu/bias-reporting/, including an option to do so anonymously.