Letter from Dean David Kurpius Shares School’s Response to Campus Events

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Columbia, Mo. (Nov. 11, 2015) — In response to recent events on the University of Missouri campus, Dean David Kurpius sent the following note on the evening of Nov. 10 to more than 12,000 Missouri School of Journalism alumni and friends:

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Yesterday was a historic day on campus. University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and University of Missouri-Columbia Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin resigned amid criticism and protests for how they handled their jobs.

It was a day that demonstrated the important role of journalism in a democratic society. It showed why we hold dear our First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, assembly, religion, and petitioning against the government for grievances.

One incident highlights this. A photojournalism senior was covering a protest on Carnahan Quad as a freelancer for ESPN when protesters blocked his access through physical and verbal intimidation. See: Dean David Kurpius Comments on Student’s Coverage of Protest on Carnahan Quad.

We responded as journalists: All of our newsrooms were actively engaged throughout the day in covering the events. I encourage you to check out our students’ extensive digital and social media coverage of the Nov. 9 activities on the Columbia Missourian, KOMU-TVKBIA-FM and Vox Magazine websites.

We continue to respond as scholars and teachers: The day was full of teachable moments – when theory and practice met head to head – that will be discussed in our classes and newsrooms. As the leading journalism school, we are sharing these points on our website so others can better understand the depth and context of what happened. See: Protests on Carnahan Quadrangle Provide Opportunity for First Amendment Education: Journalism Professors Identify Key Issues in Competing Interests.

We also took steps to assure students, faculty and staff of their safety as well as to let them know the School’s stance on inclusiveness.

Notes were sent to our journalism family in the morning, reminding them that the J-School stands for inclusiveness. We want the School to be a welcome environment for people from different backgrounds, races, religions and sexual orientations as well as one that provides equal opportunity for all. I personally visited numerous classes to share this message.

Through the years, the School has worked to break down institutional racism. In 1998 we offered the nation’s first multicultural course required of all students. Since I joined the School in July, we have hired an African-American advisor, and I am negotiating to hire an additional African-American professor. We held an advertising diversity summit and made restrooms accessible for transgender people.

Moving forward, a respected inclusivity expert will come to the School early next semester to help faculty, staff and student leaders develop the skills that promote learning through difficult dialogues on a routine basis. We’ll also identify ways for all of us to have ongoing discussions about these issues. There is no single solution. Rather, this is what we do as part of a continuing effort.

We continue to respond to you, our alumni and friends: The experiences, thoughts and ideas many of you have shared are part of an important conversation that can help address inclusivity issues faced by newsrooms, agencies and other organizations around the world.

I am proud of how our students, faculty and staff have responded to this multifaceted campus issue, and I hope you share my pride in our J-School.

Sincerely,
David Kurpius, Dean

Statement on Inclusion:

The Missouri School of Journalism stands for inclusivity and works daily to create a welcome environment for people from different backgrounds, races and ages as well as one that provides equal opportunity for all.

For coverage of the events happening at the University of Missouri, follow the news media organizations based here:

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Nov 11, 2015

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