Spring 2021: A Review of The Hilltop Monitor’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Goals

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Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the country, and yet with the worst presumably behind us, marginalized populations continue to take the brunt of the resulting financial, social and health-related disparities in the United States. Amid the pandemic, an all-too-familiar pattern of violence revealed itself – one that we can no longer let fester by means of our own silence.

Following the murder of George Floyd in summer 2020, the 2020-21 the Monitor editorial staff released a statement in support of Black lives, pledging to devote our organization’s time and resources to covering issues surrounding diversity, inclusion and injustice within our community. Reflecting on our progress, now with two semesters completed, we realize that we still have a lot of room to grow for fall 2021. 

Most urgently, we are extending this commitment to include Asian American and Pacific Islander students and members of our local and national community. With the pandemic promoting violent, targeted attacks against AAPI demographics, we recognize the importance of committing our time and resources towards their perspectives. 

In fall 2021, we plan to further recognize the experiences of both BIPOC and AAPI communities through extensive news reporting, efforts in diversifying staff and offering specific roles to BIPOC and AAPI students. We also hope to devote some staff-writer positions to report on issues specific to diversity, inclusion and injustice on a local and national scale.

We condemn any form of violence toward BIPOC and AAPI communities. The changes made to our structure and news-reporting prerogatives, explained in further detail below, will not change the world; however, we hope to give BIPOC and AAPI people within our community more confidence and security in their identities so that they may be empowered to tell their stories and further inspire others vicariously. 

In this review, we will identify the areas of our 2020-21 Commitment in which we met our goals, did not meet our goals and specific ways we aim to eventually meet such goals. 2020-21 Editor-in-Chief Christina Kirk reviewed our progress for fall 2020 earlier this year.

Thank you,

Krista Halstead | Co-Editor-in-Chief, Chief Copy Editor

Liz Payton | Co-Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor

Trent Brink | Sports Editor 

Zach Dube | Perspectives Editor

Alaina Flory | Arts & Culture Editor

Teresa Mainzer| Lifestyle Editor


Links for resources and donations:


Undertake journalistic investigations into instances of racism and discrimination within the Jewell community, publishing a minimum of two to three full investigative pieces per semester.

The Hilltop Monitor met our first goal in exposing instances of racism and discrimination within the Jewell community through investigative pieces. As new information about the college’s historical relationship to slavery and the new “Slavery, Memory, and Justice” course was released, The Hilltop Monitor published four investigative updates. The publication also took a look into the college’s Diversity and Inclusion curriculum and how it may evolve alongside Jewell’s Radical Inclusivity work.

This fall, we plan to continue with updates on the “Slavery, Memory, and Justice” course as well as the research into Jewell’s past. We will also be emphasizing a focus on accountability and promoting change with our investigations; although our articles remain unbiased and factually centered, we recognize our role in cultivating change through access to information and alternative perspectives.

Status: Met

Articles:


Provide more accessible avenues by which all members of our community can bring to our attention leads, tips and story ideas relating to diversity and inclusivity in order to expand our coverage, including but not limited to a Google form accessible on all of our social media.

The Hilltop Monitor continues to provide more ways for Jewell’s community to bring up topics relating to diversity, inclusion and more through Google forms and social media. This allows us to expand coverage over relative and impactful stories. As mentioned in later goal updates, we will be attempting to reach out to the community further via more specific Google Forms and opportunities for authoring content for our website.

Status: Met

Forms:


Place an increased focus on reporting on racial disparities as they present themselves within Liberty, the Kansas City metro and the U.S., by publishing at minimum five of these news pieces per semester and designating a beat specifically concerning these issues, so that staff members are always ready to cover these issues the moment they present themselves

The Hilltop Monitor met this goal by publishing five articles that reported on newsworthy topics impacting BIPOC. From local talk about police reform to vaccine availability to vaccine deserts, these articles provided insights on some of the difficulties BIPOC are currently facing. 

For fall 2021, we plan to increase the number of beat reporters working with us and dedicate at least two of those positions to BIPOC and AAPI issues specifically. Additionally, we are increasing this goal from five news pieces to seven, with the hope of publishing even more as we grow our staff.

Status: Met

Articles:


Incorporate themes of advocacy, inclusion and dignity into articles on all pages, not just Features and News, including but not limited to publishing more artist and sports features on BIPOC and more reviews of art/work/content created by BIPOC


Although we recognize several articles outside of Features and News that touch on advocacy, inclusion and dignity, we believe that we have not yet reached our goal. We aim to highlight the talents and voices of more BIPOC and AAPI students by reinstating our “Humans of Jewell” series. 

With an emphasis on reporting issues specific to BIPOC and AAPI students, we also hope to foster an environment where students can feel more comfortable reviewing media that holds importance and relevance to BIPOC and AAPI communities.

Status: More work to be done

Articles:


Recruit more BIPOC staff members by reaching out to organizations like BSA, Mi Gente, INSA – not only asking them to join our staff but also asking them if there are ways we can make our reporting more inclusive


As of spring 2021, The Hilltop Monitor staff remains predominantly white; however, as fall promises us more opportunity to meet in larger gatherings and host events, we hope to recruit more BIPOC and AAPI students. Due to restrictions and general stress from COVID-19, many organizations at Jewell had problems with sustained interest from students throughout the 2020-21 year. We hope that as organizations like BSA, Mi Gente, INSA and others gain more influence and interest on campus, we can partner with them in more structured ways and work towards inclusive recruitment.

Status: Unmet


Use our platform to highlight and amplify BIPOC voices, including, but not limited to, regularly commissioning opinion pieces and letters to the editor from BIPOC, seeking out interviews from more BIPOC and featuring more BIPOC-led initiatives in our news reporting

In our news and feature coverage, we highlighted many initiatives that Jewell took this semester regarding Radical Inclusivity and diversifying campus. Though we reported on these topics, we did not seek out BIPOC voices to provide their perspectives on the changes. We plan to start featuring the voices of those directly or indirectly impacted by such initiatives moving forward.

Over the spring semester, very few opinions or submitted pieces were published, let alone from BIPOC. To remove some of the barriers in submitting content, we plan to offer a more easily available platform for BIPOC and AAPI artists, content creators and critics, so that they may submit their reviews, artwork, media creations, etc. via a Google Form. Though this opportunity will not be exclusive to BIPOC and AAPI students, we will focus on publicizing this Form among Jewell organizations that serve marginalized populations in hope to feature their voices among other artists and content-creators who would not have the opportunity otherwise. The Hilltop staff looks forward to sharing the opinions and perspectives of BIPOC and AAPI students by regularly commissioning content.

Status: Unmet

Articles:


Establish direct lines of communication with the leadership of campus multicultural organizations in order to increase coverage on them, especially those representing BIPOC, including publishing dedicated features explaining the missions of each of these organizations as well as publishing content throughout the year reporting these organizations’ initiatives 


As mentioned, general campus culture took a hit this past year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Once multicultural organizations are allowed to hold more gatherings and events, we hope to cover them extensively. This will also open up more communication between the Monitor and such organizations so we can continue to encourage organization members to submit content or feature specific individuals within the organization.

Status: Unmet


Carefully question and probe the validity of data and statistics from law enforcement agencies for misrepresentative or racially biased information

The Hilltop Monitor met this goal for spring 2021. With four investigative stories on Jewell’s historical ties to slavery, publishing unbiased, factually accurate information was imperative. Though we have four checkpoints in place to catch potentially biased or incorrect information, the Monitor staff took extra caution with these investigative pieces, ensuring that every detail was suitable to be published under our standards. In fall 2021, we plan to further include staff writers in informative workshops on biased versus unbiased writing and the importance of credible sources.

Status: Met


Explicitly ask cabinets and senators running for Student Senate both at the annual Senate debates and within interviews how they intend to oppose racism and promote diversity and inclusivity on campus, particularly with regards to recruitment and retention, enrollment, housing and representation on campus

Hosting the Student Senate debate last fall, we asked each candidate a few questions regarding topics like campus safety, Title IX and diversity on campus. We intend to emphasize the same topics, with more detail, at the next debate and within individual interviews.

Status: More work to be done

Articles:


The Hilltop Monitor encourages feedback from our audience. If you have any questions, constructive criticisms, or suggestions for how we can better reach our goals, please contact us at monitor@william.jewell.edu, or send it anonymously to The Hilltop Monitor Suggestion Box.

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