News-editorial major talks about her hopes for CU
Alexis Smith says she did not always intend to lead the way for diversity.
“I didn’t always have this diversity track in mind,” said Smith, a junior news-editorial and ethnic studies major.
Smith is currently a counselor for the Center for Multi-Cultural Affairs.
“I represent the first generation scholars program (run through CMA),” Smith said. “I’m kind of the contact student.”
She said she also worked for the Cultural Events Board for several years.
Smith, who identifies as Latina and said that she is half Mexican and half Italian, was born in Denver. She moved to Littleton in elementary school and lived there until going to CU.
“I always knew I’d go to college in Colorado,” Smith said.
Smith said getting to CU was eye opening.
“I guess when I got into CU, I was upset that I had to go seek out people who look like me,” Smith said. “(CU) doesn’t even represent the state’s demographic.”
Smith said she hopes to see more under-privileged students brought to CU, a process that she refers to as “kind of like scouting.”
She said the First-Generation Scholars Program helps to do just that.
“The schools that don’t have such high success rates . . . receive very little scouting,” Smith said. “We need to go to East High School and we need to go to the west side of Denver just as much as we’re going to Highlands Ranch. I’d also just like to see more awareness in all levels on the campus.”
Smith said ethnic studies classes and “really intensive diversity training” can help.
“They kind of have to unlearn all the history that they’ve learned and re-learn it,” Smith said.
She said some of her greatest allies are student leaders Amie Ha, Chris Choe and David Chiu.
“They’ve been working with me on the recent initiatives on Max Karson’s article,” Smith said.
Smith said she disagreed with the way Karson went about writing his column.
“There are productive, progressive ways to start a conversation,” she said.
Smith said she sees some problems standing in the way of her efforts to promote more diversity on campus.
“We get caught up a lot of times with being a corporate institution, a business,” Smith said. “I think that there is a recognition right now that the institutional and systematic issues are what’s causing those problems.”
Smith, funding is another issue in terms of bringing diversity to campus.
“CU is one of the lowest in the country in how many state funds we receive,” Smith said. “If more tax dollars come in and more people are invested . . . I think there’s going to be a lot more of a pull from more communities and hopefully more diverse communities.”
Smith said she feels that student apathy is yet another obstacle. She said that she is reaching out to other students and finding students who are interested, but that “it’s kind of preaching to the choir.”
She said the more apathetic students on campus are the ones she wants to reach out to.
“Those are the students who need the education,” Smith said.
However, she said some groups of students are taking steps forward.
“We are successful,” Smith said. “We just wish that more people would join us.”
She also said she wants to get more students involved in talking about issues of white privilege and the privilege of being a journalist.
When she graduates, Smith said she would like to do public relations work for a non-profit organization.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Sam Dieter at firstname.lastname@example.org.