WMU News

Loy Norrix journalists report on realities of integration

Nov. 6, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Future journalists at Kalamazoo's Loy Norrix High School have partnered with journalism educators at Western Michigan University to research and report on race relations, both in the school and in the Kalamazoo community.

Working with a $2,000 Teaching Tolerance Grant from the Southern Poverty Law Center, students will publish a series of newspaper articles that will examine the realities of school integration.

"We're looking at integration from a historical standpoint and at how students have become re-segregated within their social groups and in the classes they take," says Tisha Pankop, newspaper advisor for Knight Life, the student newspaper at Loy Norrix. She notes the project, which was chosen by the students at the start of the school year, already has challenged the staff.

"They're finding out when they ask about race, people can become very uncomfortable," she says. "What I've seen of their research is that they're seeing the hard facts. Although we're an integrated school, the opportunities are different for some people, due to their ethnicity."

The partnership between WMU and Loy Norrix developed last year when Sue Ellen Christian, assistant professor of journalism, and Pankop advised the students on a series of articles dealing with Muslims living in Kalamazoo and their experiences after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Our project is part of the national effort, 'Communicating Common Ground,' organized by the National Communication Association and aimed at reducing hate speech and encouraging understanding among diverse groups," says Christian. She reports the grant will be used to pay for printing costs and for color pages for the project.

"Normally the students have to sell ads to pay for the entire cost of the newspaper, but this grant will allow them to focus on reporting and research for the project," Christian says.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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