Podcast seeks to raise the voices of underrepresented students at Xavier
By Will Pembroke | Staff Writer
Underrepresented cultures on campus have taken center stage in the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI)-sponsored podcast titled Smooth Topics, hosted by students Samiya Jackson and Antoine Hudson.
The idea of this digital media feature originated out of a need for a larger forum to discuss questions and concerns that were being raised in Smooth Transitions.
Smooth Transitions is an orientation and year-long mentorship initiative for first-year students of underrepresented populations making the transition to college. The orientation portion happens prior to Manresa, but each participant is assigned a mentor who helps further connect them to the Xavier community during their first year.
As the podcast’s programming director, Sierra Stennis recalled certain questions like, “Do you feel protected by authority?” were raised in meetings. These questions prompted important conversations that leaders of Smooth Transitions felt required more awareness.
“(We) needed a platform for underrepresented students to discuss these issues, how we feel at our heart,” Stennis said. “We need a place to shine a light on our issues for those who don’t relate to them as well.”
Adriana Smith, the treasurer of the podcast, also weighed in, explaining that another purpose of Smooth Topics is to build a community of underrepresented students at Xavier.
“It’s not just Black issues that are a thing. We are trying to give a voice to all students who feel that their ideas and experiences aren’t a part of life here,” she said.
Robert Young, a first-year Smooth Transitions mentee, explained that the program helped participants like himself build connections with other minority students, thus contributing to his sense of community at Xavier.
Smooth Topics seeks to build upon and expand this community.
Cameron Lakes, the president of Smooth Topics, further explained that the primary objective for this podcast is, “making sure that people understand that underrepresented groups on campus aren’t just solely us (but rather) … anybody who just doesn’t fit that normal identity of what a college student is at least on this campus.”
As such, representatives from LGBTQ+, Latinx, first generation, international and African American communities are on the wish list for the podcast as potential guests for the show.
Additionally, the members of the executive board expressed interest in securing faculty guests to provide a wider variety of opinions on Xavier’s current climate for underrepresented groups on campus.
The team’s first and only podcast so far was released on Oct. 14, and it can be found on Soundcloud. In the episode, the two hosts talk about the origins and importance of Smooth Topics. Future episodes are currently in the process of being recorded.
The pilot episode spans about 20 minutes, but the crew hopes that future podcasts will hover around the 45-minute mark.
Students can keep up with news about the podcast and its team by following them on Instagram @smoothtopics. Podcast episodes can be listened to at soundcloud.com/smooth-topics.