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'It is time for a change': Hussman students react to school's accreditation status

The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media on June 22nd, 2022.

After a journalism program evaluation agency granted provisional accreditation status to the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, The Daily Tar Heel spoke with current and former Hussman students about their experiences in the school and their thoughts on its demotion in accreditation status. 

The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications voted to downgrade the Hussman school this status. According to the ACEJMC accrediting site team's report, the school was out of compliance with its diversity and inclusion standard.

Hussman will be re-evaluated after a two-year period, and the site team said the school must follow through on its diversity plan and initiatives to improve student and faculty retention and recruitment. If not, the school’s accreditation could be denied. 

Christian Ciocoiu is a rising junior in the Hussman School. He said that in his experience, professors in the school did a good job offering a wide array of viewpoints and perspectives for students to consider. 

Jaylen Harrell is also a rising junior in the journalism school. 

"There's a lot more that the school can and should be doing if this accreditation thing really is very important, which it should be," Harrell said. "It needs to become more vocalized and needs to be more publicized."

Harrell said he has had no professors of color while in the Hussman school so far. 

“We want this accreditation to be back and to make Hussman look good, but it should be truly to cater to the students who need it, and students who are struggling and not knowing that there are resources for them and having issues either fitting in or understanding how this whole college thing works out as a minority student at a PWI,” Harrell said.

Zirui “Jerry” Yan graduated from the Hussman school in 2020. 

“I feel like representation is so important when it comes to especially media and basically what we do at Hussman, and I feel like that's definitely something we need to improve upon," Yan said. 

Yan said he only had a few professors of color during his time at the Hussman school. 

While taking classes at Hussman, Yan said he had to ask himself how to navigate the space as a student of color.

Katie Ruth Bowes graduated from Hussman in the spring and said she was surprised the school received provisional accreditation. 

"But then getting into it, it's because they didn't execute the goals of the diversity and inclusion plan, and I was like 'Okay, I guess that makes sense,'" Bowes said.

Bowes also said that during her time at Hussman, she had mostly white professors and only a few professors of color.

She said based on that, she thinks the school has not done a good job of meeting its diversity goals.

“I think a lot of people at the Hussman are so aware that we need more diversity and we need to be including different voices, that they bring in other people," Bowes said. "So, I did have that a few times my professors would bring in guest speakers or people of color."

The first goal of Hussman's 2016 Diversity plan states that the school aims to “clearly define and publicize the school's commitment to diversity and inclusion."

Bowes believes this has not been followed. 

She said that Hussman's downgrade to provisional status was disappointing, but ultimately an effective way to bring the school's diversity and inclusion issues to the forefront.

“It took something that's going to affect not only your money, but your status to kind of be a wake-up call, and I hate that it had to get to this point," Harrell said. "But it was definitely needed because it's time for a change.

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Editor's note: Ciocoiu previously worked at The Daily Tar Heel from August 2021 through February 2022.