An important update to JAWS membership

President's Letters l

Dear members,

I’m proud to report that Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) has taken several major steps to address racist and offensive statements made during last year’s Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP) in Oregon.

Thanks to the guidance of Dr. Mary J. Wardell, our diversity and inclusion consultant who was just hired in December, our board has penned a new Code of Conduct that spells out how members should treat one another — and what might happen if these rules of engagement are broken.

The 2019 JAWS Code of Conduct comes as the result of insensitive and inappropriate statements made during CAMP in late October. Though we had hoped to respond more quickly to what transpired at CAMP, the board knew it was important to have an expert on race and inclusion guide us toward meaningful action, reconciliation and justice.

Over the holidays, President-elect Mira Lowe and Vice President Lindsey Anderson took the lead in drafting the Code, which has since been reviewed by the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board and the newly formed Presidents’ Circle.

Several prominent media, tech and professional organizations have adopted codes of conduct in recent years to foster inclusive, welcoming spaces and address harassment and other discriminatory behavior. JAWS is joining these ranks of forward-thinking organizations.

In addition, Dr. Wardell has spent part of her winter break helping me to conduct interviews with several of the people who either witnessed or made these offensive statements at CAMP.  She and I also met with members of the Diversity Committee, led by JAWS board member Lottie Joiner. These comments, along with the letters from the 2018 Fellows (linked here and here), are helping Dr. Wardell to compile a list of recommendations so JAWS can rectify what happened at CAMP and move our organization forward. Appropriate action will be taken based on Dr. Wardell’s recommendations.

To that end, Dr. Wardell and her assistant, Master’s Degree candidate Liz Lopez, are also designing a comprehensive organizational climate survey to capture the changing demographics of the membership and gauge the true feelings of our members on the issues including race, ethnicity, gender and inclusivity.

Once the survey is complete, we will need your help in getting as many people as possible to complete the survey. Our hope is to send a survey link in late February, if not sooner.

In the meantime, please take a look at our new Code of Conduct.

Sincerely,

Yumi Wilson

JAWS President