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What: Jared Polis speaks at diversity campaign launch

When: Noon Tuesday

Where: UMC terrace

The University of Colorado`s student-run online news publication, CU Independent, is launching a campaign to boost diversity and acceptance among students, two years after publishing a column declaring “war” on Asians.

Editor-in-chief Danielle Alberti said the “Speak Out” initiative was spurred by the controversy surrounding former CU student Max Karson`s piece, titled “If it`s war the Asians want … It`s war they`ll get.”

The February 2008 satirical column attracted national attention and forced changes at the student-run publication, including the creation of a Student Diversity Advisory Board that provides regular feedback to editors.

“It was a difficult experience for both student media and the campus as whole,” Alberti said of the controversy. “But so many good things came out of it like the advisory board and this new campaign.”

“Speak Out” will give students a spot online to discuss their opinions on provocative topics that are often taboo, Alberti said, rather than leaving the burden on student media. The site will be part of

Details of the campaign will be unveiled Tuesday, during a noon event on the University Memorial Center terrace. Speakers include U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.; Erin Yoshimura, a cultural intelligence trainer and owner of Empowerful Changes of Arvada; and Nadia Gedeon, a 9News assignment editor and president of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists.

Student journalists said they have been working for nearly a year with the local company TDA Advertising & Design on the movement to promote inclusivity and comprehensive coverage on the CU-Boulder campus.

CU Independent managing editor Cameron Naish said the various backgrounds and interests of CU students are not being adequately addressed by members of the student media, and “Speak Out” is intended to fill the gaps in their coverage.

“As student media our main responsibility is to represent all the students on campus, and we realize there is so much going on that is not equally represented,” Naish said.

The publication has also created nine new reporter beats under the “Speak Out” campaign, including racism, sexism, body image and substance abuse.

Sports editor Esteban Hernandez will take on the racism beat in addition to his duties as editor. Hernandez said he will use his knowledge in sports and his personal experiences to enhance coverage of minorities, including stories about athletes of color and racial tension within campus athletics.

CU senior Brad Gisclair said student media`s campus coverage has gaps that need to be filled, not just for the benefit of minority groups but to improve overall understanding among students.

“I imagine this (campaign) might give students who are often left out, a voice to speak up,” Gisclair said.

But other students are not so convinced.

Akiko Mitsui, a CU exchange student and journalism and mass communications major, said that while the improvements to student media may make the news more pertinent to her and other minorities on campus, it is the student`s responsibility to care about these controversial issues.

“It will depend on the student,” Mitsui said. “If a student cares enough to broaden their understanding of other cultures and issues, then the media coverage will improve their access to that information. But it will not ensure students will recognize these issues are present.”

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