Student Voice Team Provides Safe Space for JMC Students

Sep 14, 2017

Story by Marissa Nichol

Kent State’s Student Voice Team is using unconventional tactics this semester to give students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication a platform to voice their concerns.

SVT officers are prioritizing bi-weekly meetings where students can share what they like, dislike, and what can be improved in the school.

“This year we’re really getting back to what we’re meant for, and that’s voice,” says Arkayla Tenney-Howard, a public relations major and SVT member. “We’re really getting back to the fact that we want to talk to students as much as possible, and we just want to keep that continuous communication throughout the entire School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It’s not event planning, it’s not running a social media page, it’s just focused on that student voice.”

The first meeting was Wednesday, September 13.

“It’s come and go if you have something that you want to talk about. You’re more than welcome to stop in and say hi and get it off your chest,” says Abigail Winternitz, a junior public relations major and SVT president.

Winternitz says SVT uses social media to keep students aware, and they don’t focus solely on marketing to gain members.

The officers look for people interested in what SVT does and problems the group needs to talk about, rather than just joining a club for resume-building purposes.

Officers send out bi-weekly newsletters on upcoming meetings, a recap on previous meetings and diversity events around campus.

“It’s a really unique opportunity to be a part of SVT in my opinion, because you get this one-on- one contact with the administration,” Tenney-Howard says. “I think it’ll definitely help us in the workforce and just in general in life being able to communicate with higher-ups and know how to communicate, what to communicate and build a real relationship with them.”

Students will also have the chance to communicate with guests who plan on attending their meetings, including Lamar Hylton, the dean of student affairs, and Alfreda Brown, the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Thor Wasbotten, the faculty adviser of SVT, solves student problems reported by officers or students themselves. Wasbotten has follow-up conversations with faculty, reports to the interim director and interacts with students at faculty advisory committee meetings.

Nakiyah Fears, a junior advertising major who joined SVT last semester, says she thinks of the organization as a resource when she doesn’t know who to turn to for problems.

Because the people in SVT are students as well, she says they have a better understanding.

“For them to be able to talk to faculty and actually make a change, and not just make a complaint, it’s really important,” she says. “I want to be a part of that. People’s voices are important to be heard, especially when issues arise.”