DIG brings light to diversity issues at AU’s communication and journalism school

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All things Auburn

By Ariel Cochran, SPJ Region 3 intern and president, SPJ Auburn University student chapter

Fairley1

Nan Fairley, founder and adviser for Auburn Diversity Interest Group (DIG)

Nan Fairley, associate professor of the School of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University, has made it her mission to make journalism more accessible for everyone. Working with diverse communities has been a passion for Fairley for the past two decades.

“I have been involved in many diversity-related committees and outreach efforts during my 25 years at Auburn for no other reason than it is the right thing to do,” said Fairley.

In 2017 with more than 1,000 students in the Auburn University School of Communication and Journalism (CMJN), Fairley and members of the CMJN Diversity Committee wanted to hear more from students about diversity and inclusion issues. With the creation of the Diversity Interest Group (DIG), founder and adviser Fairley is providing an opportunity for a dinner table conversation between students and the CMJN community.

The group includes a standing cabinet and members who show leadership skills and dedication to improving diversity within the CMJN department. The students are selected by faculty.

DIG will provide what I think has been a missing piece, hearing directly from students about their concerns about diversity and inclusion,” said Fairley.

“The Diversity Interest Group started last spring,” said Fairley. “[It] is being established to help get students from all four majors in the school (journalism, media studies, public relations and communications) to share their concerns and ideas about how we can build an even more inclusive environment.”

Monique

Monique Cowan says that sometimes she is the only black student or female black student in her CMJN classes at Auburn University. 

Monique Cowan, 2017-2018 DIG president, took the position in response to the current climate that called her to action. She said she was concerned about lack of diversity on campus especially in the College of Liberal Arts and CMJN. 

“I think there is an even greater need for diversity outreach. There have been several classes that I’ve taken over the course of my almost five years here where I am the only black student or the only black female student in attendance,” said Cowan.

She said for its first official year, DIG has set goals to have “kitchen table” discussion to help make CMJN:

  • More inclusive and “comfortable” for diverse groups
  • More accessible with opportunities to interact across four majors
  • Supportive in promoting and assisting with programs focused on diversity
  • More family-oriented by providing opportunities for students to familiarize themselves with one another and form connections
  • More prepared for the future with career and skill building opportunities such as LinkedIn workshops and mentoring programs

DIG LOGO copy“DIG will provide what I think has been a missing piece, hearing directly from students about their concerns about diversity and inclusion,” said Fairley.

“The best results come from one-on-one, face-to-face conversations. I hope DIG gets firmly established in the coming year to make those sometimes difficult conversations happen more often,” she said.

Growing up I did not see a lot of people who looked like me on television, so as soon as I had the ability to do something about it, I spoke up for more diversity in casting.” – Marianne McCarley

Instructor Marianne McCarley, co-adviser for DIG, said she was drawn to the round-table organization out of her own passion of increasing diversity and inclusion on campus and in future work areas.

“Representation of minorities in advertising and film world has always been a very important focus in my career,” says McCarley. “Growing up I did not see a lot of people who looked like me on television, so as soon as I had the ability to do something about it, I spoke up for more diversity in casting. Since my return to Auburn I would like to continue that role in reminding people of the importance of diversity, and I found like-minded people in DIG.”

Marianne McCarley

Marianne McCarley

Presenting opportunities for people to meet others with different perspectives beyond themselves is also something that McCarley said she would like to see.

“I hope that in spreading the importance of diversity and inclusion, people will think of representation with an open mind and appreciate that we are all not that different,” she said.

Auburn’s DIG meets twice a month throughout the school year with its goal to sponsor events and activities that build unity in the community. 

For more information about Auburn DIG, contact:

Nan Fairley, Founder and Adviser
fairlln@auburn.edu
(334) 844-4593

Marianne McCarley, Co-Adviser
mem0175@auburn.edu

Monique Cowan, DIG President
mtc0025@tigermail.auburn.edu

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