Campus Beat Reporter
A group of students at UCSB is working on creating a new chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Fabi Esqueda, video editor for The Bottom Line and third-year sociology student, along with Writing Program lecturer Nomi Morris, are leading the creation of this new UCSB chapter of the organization.
NAHJ is a worldwide organization which was founded in April of 1984 and is dedicated to the advancement of Hispanic journalists in the news and entertainment industry. Its main goal is to promote accurate and fair treatment of Hispanics in the media and further understanding of their identity. As of now, it has approximately 2,000 members.
Esqueda is the president of the UCSB start-up chapter. In an interview with The Bottom Line, she explained what inspired her to want to create the chapter: “I took the class Writing 126 with Professor Nomi Morris. This writing class allowed students to create content for the Humanities and Fine Arts Department here at UCSB. During office hours, I just opened up to her and we were talking about how to make journalism seen here. I mentioned how as a Latinx, I felt really alone. I felt that not many students in journalism were Latinx.”
Esqueda unfortunately felt a lack of support or resources. Based on Esqueda’s perspective, students often feel alone or underrepresented and especially in a field like journalism, diversity is few and far between.
“I was usually the only Latinx person in the room in my journalism classes. I don’t want to call myself unlucky but it has been difficult,” said Esqueda.
Morris was surprised at Esqueda’s loneliness and recommended starting a NAHJ chapter at UCSB as a way of alleviating feelings of minority student loneliness and creating a new diverse society that students can benefit from.
Morris mentioned how nearly half of the students in her fall quarter Journalism Today course appeared to be Latinx students who were preparing to enter the field of journalism. Many students in her other classes had written about immigration, identity, and other stories affecting the Latinx community or expressed their experiences as part of the Hispanic minority in California.
Before working at UC Santa Barbara, Morris worked as an instructor at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. There is an active NAHJ chapter at the school.
Despite not being Hispanic, Morris learned Spanish in her undergraduate studies and found an interest in Latinx rights. “I wanted my students to tap into the larger Hispanic journalism community and benefit from the networking opportunities available,” Morris said. “This will lead to internships and employment opportunities, not to mention a sense of community.”
When asked if the organization would ever expand, Esqueda said, “We want to encourage new expansions for students. Even the word ‘Hispanic’ is not very inclusive.” Though they do not want to change the guidelines of a national organization, the chapter hopes to include other nationalities and majors in order to be inclusive as possible.
“Our main goal is to get the word out to interested students,” said Esqueda.
Membership in the organization is $25 and offers various internship and scholarship opportunities. If interested, you can reach out to either Fabi Esqueda (president), Nomi Morris (faculty advisor), Noey Padilla (vice president), or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.