Diversity, Graduation, Gender Issues and Politics: Student Press Views

Glenn Ricketts

1.      “Diversity” is never far from the radar screen of campus journalists, and the Utah Statesman recently featured this attempt to define it by a guest faculty columnist.  The Cornell Daily Sun also ran a guest entry by the school’s Associate Dean of Diversity, who described the urgency of increasing the percentage of female and minority degrees in STEM disciplines, in light of shifting demographics.  The same subject got space recently in Grinnell’s Scarlet and Black, where a science student complained about the lack of diversity in his program, coupled with a rejoinder from a faculty member.  Diversity and faculty/student proportions were not where they should be, according to a news writer for the Oklahoma Daily, while a staffer for the Arkansas Traveler explores how diversity might be increased at his own campus.  But the editors of the American University Eagle think that the existing system of fostering diversity at their school works just fine, and can’t understand why the administration thinks that it needs to be reorganized. 

2.      Various and sundry political issues always get lots of copy, and this op ed writer for the Loyola/Chicago Phoenix offers his readers some sure-fire predictions in the last issue until fall.  The editors of the Duke Chronicle  lament, but aren’t surprised by, North Carolina’s recent vote to ban same-sex marriage, and resolve to continue the fight against “intolerance.”  Their colleagues on the board of the Auburn Plainsman agree, and can’t see where “marriage equality” could do the slightest harm to anyone. On the same subject, a columnist for the Iowa State Daily applauds the nobility of President Obama’s public support for it, but several of his respondents think it was pure opportunism in quest of big campaign contributions.  Speaking of which, it doesn’t take much political savvy to see that the GOP’s funding comes predominantly from big-ticket corporate donors, says a political observer for the Oklahoma Daily.  Anyway, if we want better government, we’ve simply got to learn to dispense with ideological blinders and start thinking practically, in the view of this writer in the Daily Iowan.  A columnist for the Arkansas Traveler also writes about marriage, but in reference to the interracial variety, which he opines is still far from acceptable in most quarters.  Back to the Iowa State Daily, where another regular thinks the LA cops’ new policy of special treatment for transgendered folks is not a good idea, while a self-styled “progressive” at the University of Missouri/Columbia  Maneater feels that he’s been betrayed by the Democrats and calls for keeping them faithful to loyal supporters such as himself.  At the same time, a guest columnist for the MSU State News who’d repeatedly denounced Occupy Wall Street as a grand flop now touts a new movement that he actually likes.   And for the Memorial Day holiday, a political commentator for the Oklahoma Daily explains why he gets very mixed feelings in response. 

3.    Several interesting international stories: at the U/Alaska Fairbanks Sun Star, a correspondent describes a recent visit to Palestine and reflects on the historical background of present-day issues there;  for the UCal/Irvine New University, his counterpart takes the measure of Russia’s recent national elections.  At the Duke Chronicle, a staffer takes up the vexing question of appropriate international dress standards for female volleyball players.  

4.      Commentary on gender issues seems well nigh inexhaustible, and the pace continued even as the end of the academic year arrived.  Thus, a guest columnist for the MSU State News explains why she’s felt the strong urge to get proactive on behalf of women’s rights, and a self-designated Democrat does likewise in the pages of the Auburn Plainsman.  At Vassar College, the editors of the Miscellany News express the hope that, despite recent legal setbacks, the college will continue its efforts to devise an effective policy for dealing with sexual misconduct.  On the same subject, a writer for the UM Diamondback wonders why sexual assault is usually so casually accepted.  But while he holds no brief for sexual assault, a writer for  the Stanford Daily is deeply troubled by the mandatory new federal standards under which academic institutions are now required to process sexual misconduct case.  Elsewhere, a Dartmouth freshman the protests the manner in which she seems to be “objectified” by obnoxious frat house boys, a colleague at the WIU Western Courier complains that female media personalities don’t get the respect that the deserve, and a writer for the IU Student is really steamed over a recent Time cover photo.  Finally, a Smith College Sophian staffer thinks that the Vatican is way out of line in criticizing some American nuns who, as she sees it, are simply being true to their vocations. 

5.      As they prepare for graduation, departing seniors, especially among undergraduate journalists, often reminisce or look ahead.  That can also bring very mixed emotions, and the editors of the University of Idaho’s Argonaut offer some coping strategies.  A columnist for the Miami Student says surprise: she’s actually not griping for once, and thinks it’s time to show some appreciation for her college experience.  That’s the view of a Princeton senior, who takes to the pages of the Princetonian to explain why it was all well worth it.  Meanwhile, as graduates prepare to go home, at least for a brief spell, a Duke senior describes for Chronicle readers how uniquely different that experience will be for him.

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