Leslie Rossman


Leslie Rossman. Photo by Wayne Armstrong

HOMETOWN: Northbrook, Ill.

FIELD OF STUDY: PhD candidate in communication studies

ACTIVITIES: President and executive board member, Graduate Student Government


What are you studying? What type of career do you hope to have?

I am very interested in exploring how work experiences impact society, and my dissertation builds on that interest. In my dissertation, I’m taking a look at the economics of offshoring and outsourcing labor by researching how particular organizations and the economy rely on society’s normative values of work. In other words, I look at how service labor employees perform their work as communicated through expectations of the economy. Furthermore, I examine how these particular discourses are able to generate profit and revenue by studying narratives from the workplace. Ultimately, I hope to find a faculty position where I can continue to explore how power is infused in everyday life.


What diversity-related activities are you involved in — on and off campus? Why these groups?

In my role as president of Graduate Student Government, I work to represent the many marginalized voices in our student population. I do this in a couple of ways. First by asserting my own identity in decision-making processes. I’m committed to equity and inclusivity, and I try to articulate the importance of inclusive excellence through my access to campus decision makers. Second, I’ve spent a lot of time actively recruiting underrepresented students to participate in leadership positions. I think it is important to have a wide array of voices informing the discussion, so I work to include those voices in the governing process and to make decisions based upon the needs of students who feel silenced. In addition, I use my leadership role to support the funding of campuswide activities that are more inclusive and welcoming. That has been — and will continue to be — a priority for me.


What are the benefits of diversity in campus life?

You can’t really think critically or create knowledge in an environment that is short on inclusive and diverse ideas. I’m a big believer in the idea that students learn through dialogue and discussions, and you can’t have dialogue or productive discussions without respecting different narratives, opinions and experiences. In any classroom and on any campus, it’s important that students feel free to give voice to their interpretation of lived experiences. No one should feel that his or her worldview doesn’t matter. Hearing other perspectives and adding your voice to the conversation — that’s how we learn from one another. Every person moves through the world with different lenses, so, for me, it’s essential to encourage and emphasize open dialogue and respect — always, but especially when discussing issues of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and gender identity.

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