Opinion: NYU’s publishing program needs to diversify
Representation matters in all avenues — including the professors and guest lecturers in the classroom.
April 14, 2022
I am sure that all NYU students feel this way, but I honestly believe that I am in the best program offered by the university. NYU’s Masters in Publishing program lets us learn from top industry professionals, through guest lectures by media giants from major publishing brands.
In each of my classes, every professor has hosted one or two guest lecturers. But as I excitedly took down notes and absorbed all that I could from these executives, something nagged in my mind. None of these guest speakers were people of color. This is incredibly discouraging for a brown girl who is passionate about storytelling and getting into the publishing industry.
As a young South African, I went through much of my life without really “seeing color.” In a country where Black and brown people make up the majority, it’s more likely to see them in top positions. Yes, South Africa has a past of segregation — but 28 years after the Apartheid regime was dismantled, things are getting better. I never worried that my skin color would mean the difference between me getting and not getting a job that I was qualified for. However, when I moved to the United States, I could not help but notice the inequalities between people of color and white people.
So as I continue to enjoy everything I learn from these industry giants, I cannot help but wonder if I will ever get to hold those same positions. Our professors always speak about how the publishing industry needs to diversify and change, and how we as the next generation are meant to be the pioneers of that change. But should change not begin from the top? None of my current professors are people of color, nor were any of the speakers they invited.
Sometimes, it is easy to forget how impactful teachers and guest speakers are. I came into the program with a love for storytelling and no idea how to turn that passion into a career. But after one class, I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to dedicate my life to doing. This is why NYU must hire more diverse professors, and those professors should invite more diverse guest speakers. Listening to someone who looks like you, who understands your struggles and has overcome them, is crucial for encouraging young minds. It makes your dream seem a little bit more attainable. The publishing industry is a small, tightly knit group that is not very diverse to begin with. However, to encourage diversity in the industry, NYU has to lead by example, starting with diversifying the guest lecturers and faculty. The program takes diversity seriously for the student body, and it needs to reflect the same mentality when it comes to the faculty and guest lecturers.
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