WILL Pressroom

New Uni High documentary focuses on diversity and inclusion at the University of Illinois


Beyond Opening the Gates: Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Illinois is the latest public radio documentary to be produced from a long-standing partnership between Illinois Public Media and the University of Illinois Laboratory High School (Uni High). Both organizations are located in Urbana, IL.

Affirmative action in college and university admissions is the practice of actively finding and identifying, recruiting and retaining individuals from underrepresented groups. The documentary explores the history of affirmative action in higher education, along with where and how considerations of race enter into decision-making about access to educational opportunities today, in both Urbana-Champaign and surrounding communities. Beyond Opening the Gates: Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Illinois explores how people in central Illinois have advocated for and practiced affirmative action, how it has been implemented in local educational institutions, and the effects it has had on the community.

The documentary airs/streams on WILL-AM580 (stream at will.illinois.edu) on Friday, February 22, at 7 PM Central. It will re-air/stream Sunday, February 24 on WILL-AM at 1 PM Central.

“This project allowed Uni students to better understand the challenges the University of Illinois has faced and currently faces to create a diverse and inclusive campus welcoming to all students,” said Uni High social studies teacher Melissa Schoeplein, who guides the students in their research. “It opened their eyes to the complexities of this issue and the need for sustained, intentional policies and programming.”

For more than 20 years, students at Uni High have worked with Illinois Public Media professionals to create radio documentaries and short series on topics ranging from equality in athletics and gender, integration and disability barriers, the Holocaust, and many others. One of these students, Jeremy Hobson, currently co-hosts NPR’s Here & Now.

“The work the students create for WILL increases our commitment to the telling of local history and how that history connects to what’s happening in the country today,” said Kimberlie Kranich, director of engagement and educational outreach at Illinois Public Media. “We are grateful for the partnership.”

The next round of produced documentary work from Illinois Public Media and Uni High is tentatively planned for fall 2019.

To listen to Beyond Opening the Gates: Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Illinois, click here.

To read Poynter’s 2015 piece about WILL’s collaborative history with Uni High, click here