As The Student Life works to serve the 7C community with integrity, the process of fostering accessibility needs to start within our own newsroom. That’s why we’re serving as TSL’s first-ever diversity & inclusion editors. Here, we’d like to introduce the work we’ve been doing and hope to continue, as well as model some transparency by showing where we are with our staff’s composition and the direction we’d like to go in.
This semester marks the first time TSL has conducted a demographic survey of its staff members. The collection of this data, as well as the creation of the diversity & inclusion desk, are the beginning of TSL’s commitment to creating a more diverse and accessible organizational culture.
Journalism is a field with egregious barriers to entry, ranging from racial to socioeconomic, which are often mirrored within student journalism organizations. TSL is committed to creating a workspace that is inclusive and accessible in all aspects, including the hiring process, which pieces are selected for publication and opportunities for growth within the organization. Collecting and publishing this data is a means of accountability, as well as a way to ensure transparency in the process.
Of TSL’s 111 staff members, 59 responded to a voluntary survey on demographics. Respondents’ racial composition was 46 percent white, 42 percent Asian, five percent Black, three percent Hispanic or Latino, three percent Middle Eastern and 1 percent American Indian or Alaskan Native. The racial composition of TSL’s senior staff shares largely the same statistics, with a slightly higher percentage of Black and Latino/Non-white Hispanic students. We also asked for details on staff members’ gender and sexual identities and economic background and experiences within the organization to get a better sense of how best we can build community within the newsroom.
The racial diversity at TSL is somewhat similar to that of the 5C student population, with white students comprising the majority. However, the proportion of Asian students at TSL is significantly higher than the number at each of the five undergraduate colleges, which stands at around or less than 20 percent.
The whiteness of TSL’s leadership and historical issues of workspace culture, as well as pieces published without sensitivity to students’ experiences, are barriers that have discouraged students from engaging with TSL. Our goal is to provide a platform for 7C students of all backgrounds to amplify their voices in the community. In order to remedy previous harms and more closely align our organizational culture with our values, over the past semester TSL has begun implementing the following measures:
- The creation of a Diversity & Inclusion desk with two editorial positions
- Editorial and writing training for D&I editors to ensure pathways to leadership positions within the organization
- Role in editorial process to help writers and editors contextualize sensitive topics
- Workshops before and during application season to increase accessibility in hiring
- Altered and clarified recruitment practices and descriptions to increase accessibility in hiring
- Curating lists of journalism opportunities and resources for BIPOC and low-income students
- Biannual publication of staff demographic data to provide greater transparency and help us target areas for improvement
- Streamlining the guest piece submission process to open space for marginalized voices
We are excited and grateful to continue strengthening what makes TSL accessible, and doing away with what doesn’t. One of our goals as D&I editors is to initiate conversations and increase transparency about our process of growing into a more inclusive organization, and we welcome input from the community in the process.
Anushe Engineer SC ’22 and Caelan Reeves CM ’24 are TSL’s diversity and inclusion editors.
Graphics created by Caelan Reeves. Statistics represent the respondents and do not account for selection bias.