by Tegan Helms
Tegan Helms is a senior from Wilton, Connecticut. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and minoring in Visual and Media Arts Practices. This project has been an eye-opening experience, exposing the way the University of Richmond has handled the development of race relations throughout the years. In addition, this project has instilled in her the rhetorical importance of research and records in shaping our history and memory on certain subjects. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
This entry in The Collegian was the first of a series of editorials examining “The University Spirit” at the University of Richmond in 1968. The article published on February 16, 1968, titled “The University Spirit: Cloud of Gloom,” addresses the prevailing attitude among the student body of unhappiness with the school. This week’s article features the mutual distrust and disrespect between students and the upper echelons of the administration. According to the article, this distrust stemmed from poor communication, rigid rules, and a lack of progressiveness on part of certain university administration. “While it is understandable that their roots are in another generation–a generation very far removed from ours in many ways because of our current fast moving society–college educators should lead the way in keeping abreast of modern trends within society,” the article says.
by Erin Tyra
Erin Tyra is a senior from Santa Fe, New Mexico, double majoring in Psychology and Rhetoric and Communication Studies. For Erin, this project has shed light on how the racial history of the University has directly impacted its present culture. Additionally, Erin feels the connections between the University and the city of Richmond provide an even more interesting perspective on how racial tensions have evolved over time. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
On March 19, 1971, The Collegian published an article titled “Black Students Day Planned” on the first page of the 58th issue. The article outlines the details of the upcoming “black student day” that students from the University of Richmond organized. Their goal for the event was to “familiarize the blacks with the University of Richmond and make them realize that Richmond has something to offer them.” One student who helped plan and execute the event was the Richmond Student Government Association president Steve Knock, who specifically noted that his goal for the event was to help “end the white, Southern reputation Richmond has developed over the years.” One hundred students from Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico were scheduled to spend the entire day on UR’s campus where they would attend classes, eat lunch, attend the raft debate, and socialize with Richmond College and Westhampton College students. The article mentions that during this time, the University only had 12 black students attending (6 in each college), and that since this event brings high school students to the campus, black students day is also used as a recruitment tool, alluding to how the University was responding to the city’s struggle with school integration and diversification.
During the Fall 2017 semester, 15 students took RHCS 412 Digital Memory & the Archive, a course exploring the intersections of history, memory, and archival research into UR history. The final project for this course was a team effort to use archival materials and other resources to craft a narrative related to the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project. Using archival materials, Collin Kavanaugh, Julia Marcellino, and Destiny Riley created a digital exhibit exploring the reactions of University of Richmond students and administration to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They asked difficult questions about what compliance with federal legislation looked like, how the University reacted to integration, and how modern day issues around diversity and inclusion play out at the university today. In their own words:
Even today, through looking at the outreach that the University distributes to their prospective students, it seems as though they are projecting an image that does not necessarily reflect the current student body. In an article boasting that the incoming class of 2021 is the most diverse class yet, the University uses a photo that depicts four students, although the two minority students are not students of the class of 2021, but are actually part of the class of 2019. It would seem as though the University is continuing to have a strong disconnect between the projection of their student body and the actual make-up of the student body.
Collin Kavanaugh is a senior from East Hampton, New York, majoring in Leadership Studies at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies. Julia Marcellino is a senior from Berwyn, Pennsylvania, majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and Dance, and minoring in Business Administration. Destiny Riley is a junior from Maumelle, Arkansas, majoring in Rhetoric & Communication Studies and double minoring in Sociology and American Studies.
Click here to check out their exhibit “Resistance & Complaince” on memory.richmond.edu
by Destiny Riley
Destiny Riley is a junior from Maumelle, Arkansas, majoring in Rhetoric & Communication Studies and double minoring in Sociology and American Studies. The most interesting part of this project for her was making connections between the ways that the University viewed race in the early to mid-20th century and how the University views race in the modern day. Destiny first contributed to the Race & Racism at UR Project during an independent study course in the Spring of 2017. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
In 1965, Betty Jean Seymour, the director of religious activities for Westhampton College, conducted a study of Richmond and surrounding areas. She concluded that many Black, high-school age students in the area had low skills or were illiterate. Some had even forgotten basic skills such as how to hold a pencil for writing. This was because for a long time, specifically during the years of 1959-1964, Black students did not have the same access to privately-funded schools as white students. As I studied this article from the Collegian, I wanted to know more about why Black, high-school age students were so behind in skills and education during this time. Aside from the obvious segregation of public schools up until the 1950s, I felt as if there had to be more of a reason for this gap of education levels between Black and white students. As I delved deeper into the racial climate of this time, the blatant cause of this gap became very clear.
by Collin Kavanaugh
Collin Kavanaugh is a senior from East Hampton, New York, majoring in Leadership Studies at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies. Collin has enjoyed finding connections between the Race and Racism Project and Michel Foucault’s theories of history making. This project has inspired him to continue researching forgotten history at the University of Richmond. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
“Tour of the Penal System Reveals Much to be Done”, written in The Collegian by Jim Winders in December of 1970, expresses significant surprise and discontent with the information he has researched in regards to the prison penal system of the 20th century. Winders chose to write the piece following a tour of the Virginia State Penitentiary sponsored by the Department of Psychology and reading Philip Hirschkop and M. A. Milleman’s article in the Virginia Law Review entitled “Unconstitutionality of Prison Life”. The article’s presentation of these prison rights abuses as essentially “new information” is indicative of the lack of understanding many University of Richmond students had in regards to the historically common trend of human rights violations in United States prisons.
by Julia Marcellino
Julia Marcellino is a senior from Berwyn, Pennsylvania, majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and Dance, and minoring in Business Administration. She believes that this project has been a great opportunity for her to to further her analysis and research skills while looking into a history that is still very relevant today. The most interesting part of this project for her was how some of the sentiments and viewpoints of certain people in the 1960’s still resonate with situations that we are dealing with today. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
On March 17, 1972, the University of Richmond sent out a notice in the Collegian, informing their students about one of several racial awareness sessions that they were holding along with the Virginia Union University. Through further investigation, it seems as though racial awareness sessions were a common occurrence at that time period, in an effort to address and ultimately attempt to squash racism within different organizations (Twine & Blee, Feminism and Antiracism: Inernational Struggles for Justice, 2001, 125). The Collegian’s post interviewed Betty Hamlet, head of the University of Richmond committee, who described the sessions’ purpose as “[trying] to understand where the others are coming from…you try to imagine what it’s like to be a black woman or a black guy.” Trying to put themselves into someone else’s shoes, instead of recognizing that their shoes are the same. While at the surface this seems like something that would promote equality and trust, it seems like something that promotes tolerance, but not necessarily equality.