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Friday, February 8, 2019

Diversity Through Photoshop

The new billboard for York College of Pennsylvania features a typical headline for admissions marketing: "Envision the Possibilities at York College." Eight students smile. One is African American, one is Asian American and one woman (with her hair covered) appears to be Muslim.
But in the last week, the billboard turned from a source of pride to one of controversy. The original photograph shot for the billboard (above on left, with the billboard on right) featured two white students who were replaced with two students who reflected diversity. The original photo and the doctored one circulated on social media (with arrows noting the changes), and one of the students in the original photo shoot reached the photographer. She reported to a local news station what he said: “He was, like, yeah, they just wanted a more diverse billboard, so we had to get two other students, and we put them in there. When they went to show the person that had to approve the photo, it wasn’t approved, so they had to rush to fix the problem."
A spokeswoman for York offered this defense of the photograph via email: "This photo reflects the diversity of students who live and learn at York College. All those included are York College students. In an effort to reinforce inclusivity, we attempt to ensure that all students are represented and welcome. "