Learning about My PWI

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

by Eden Wolfer

Eden Wolfer is a rising junior from Wilmington, Delaware. She is majoring in sociology and minoring in education. This is her first summer working for the Race & Racism Project and she is excited to learn from this experience.

PWI is short for “Predominantly White Institution” and is used to describe both modern day higher education institutions in which white students make up 50% or more of the student population, and to reference institutions which have been historically white, in contrast to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). (More on PWIs can be found in the Encyclopedia of African-American Education, 1996).  

When I was starting to look at colleges, it was easy to look at the provided statistics about diversity and think that was enough. If there was a significant percentage of non-white students on campus that was all I could ask for from my school. My experience at college would not be affected by how people of color experienced campus, and obviously this is a very privileged position to be able to work from. Thinking about it now, two years into a sociology degree later, I am not sure why a 17 year old would think to look for information about the experience of students of color when we have been socialized into thinking a number of diverse students is enough to show a school is not racist.

If someone were to try and begin to look for the concealed racial history of the University of Richmond without knowing to look at the Race & Racism Project website, there are no easily found resources. The school website brushes over the history with integration and completely ignores the administration’s deep resistance. Overall, while attending this school little about its racially charged past has ever been brought to my attention outside of conversations with people involved in the Race & Racism Project at UR.

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Finding Another Piece of the Puzzle

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

by Mysia Perry

Mysia Perry is a rising sophomore from Richmond, VA with an intended major in Leadership Studies and minor in Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  She is a part of the WILL* program, Peer Advisors and Mentors,  Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and she is both an Oldham and Oliver Hill Scholar. This is her first summer working on the Race & Racism Project on Team Oral History, and she is very excited to begin working for more equitable environment here at the University of Richmond.

I knew what I was doing when I applied to the University of Richmond. I knew that I would be entering a new environment where there would be little to no people who look like me in my classrooms.  I have been in predominantly white spaces before and had some idea of what that could mean for me, but worried what differences  there would be when the space included, less of me, in other ways. The predominantly white spaces I had previously occupied had heavier similarities between us socially than our difference in race. With college, a space where I would be surrounded by people who had different outlooks on life, I had thoughts about what my future would be. I found that it was best to ignore that only half a century ago my ancestors were not seen on the campus I live on. I tried not to worry about what this meant for me as a black, queer, female student at the University of Richmond.

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Ring Dance: Gaining a New Perspective

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

by Catherine Franceski

Catherine Franceski is rising junior from Washington, D.C. majoring in Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law (PPEL) with concentration in politics and minoring in Rhetoric & Communication Studies. She is the president of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, and a member of the Westhampton College Honor Council. This is her second year working on the Race & Racism Project. Last summer, she focused on studying the lives and legacies of “hidden” black figures in Richmond, Virginia’s history.

When I came to the University of Richmond in the fall of 2016, I thought I knew the school very well. My mother had attended UR, my brother was a current student, and other family members had different connections to the school. I had grown up outside of D.C., coming to campus for reunions, family weekends, and other events. Although I knew a bit about the history of the school and the social culture of campus, I did not know anything about the history of the school’s interaction with the city of Richmond, the rocky road to integration, or the black student experience.

I worked on the Race & Racism Project last summer compiling hidden narratives about inspirational figures in the city of Richmond’s history and learning about the history of black students on campus. This included gaining a whole new insight into the isolation and exclusion black students have felt, and continue to feel, on campus. When I returned to school in the fall, I realized my work on the project last summer allowed be to become a more culturally competent and aware student, as well as a better ally for students of color on this campus.

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The Distinction Between Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Richmond

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

by Kristi Mukk

Kristi Mukk is a rising senior from Mililani, Hawaii. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Communications and minoring in English. She is a dancer and communications director for Ngoma African Dance Company. This is her first time working for the Race & Racism Project as a Summer Fellow, and she is excited to continue her work in the course Digital Memory & the Archive in Fall 2018.

When I first toured the campus before applying, I observed that the University of Richmond struggled with issues of diversity and inclusivity, and I found myself questioning how I would fit in. In being awed by the beautiful campus, it can be easy to overlook how predominantly white and affluent the student body is. I planned on declaring a business major, so when I came to visit campus, I explored the Robins School of Business and sat in on an economics class. I was immediately struck by the lack of students of color and faculty of color in comparison to other departments. During my two semesters as a Pre-Business freshman, I felt that the business school had an alienating atmosphere for students of color—the majority of students in my classes were a part of Greek life, had an affluent socioeconomic background, and already had connections in the business world. This is part of the reason that I decided to switch to liberal arts disciplines like English and Rhetoric and Communications where there are more diverse students and faculty. Not only is there more numerical diversity in these departments, but students and faculty make an effort to have conversations about race, equity, inclusivity, and justice. Furthermore, the diversity of the curriculum reflects an interest in a more inclusive history and beliefs and cultures outside of the Western world.

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Multicultural Recruitment as a Gesture of Goodwill

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

by Ayele d’Almeida

Ayele d’Almeida is a Political Science and Leadership double-major from Bloomington, Minnesota. Her work at Common Ground, the University of Richmond’s social justice initiative informed her decision to pursue the Race & Racism Project as a summer fellow. She hopes that through her fellowship and continued connection with the project, she will learn more about the University of Richmond. Ayele believes that the Race & Racism Project will also help later in life – as the project forces her to question institutions she may benefits from. She hoped to focus her research on black faculty and the presence of black students in white-dominated clubs and spaces.

My first introduction to the University of Richmond was in December of my Senior year – much later than the average applicant or attendee to the University. When I was accepted into the Richmond, I was flown out from Minnesota to visit campus through a multicultural accepted students program, entitled A Night To See and Experience Richmond (ANSWER). I would be on campus with a group of other multicultural-identified students and we would eventually transition into the larger accepted students’ day. It was during this first visit to campus that I learned that the University of Richmond is involved in an ongoing battle to recruit multicultural students. After one day of activities with other multicultural students, I was thrown into the larger admitted students day. I realized quickly that the number of multicultural students interested in and attending the University of Richmond was low. Although I was told multiple times about the rich, white, Southern reputation of the University, my expectations did not prepare me for the extent to which stereotypes were reinforced.

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We Like What You Do, But Don’t Care Who UR

[For the first blog post of the Summer 2018 A&S Research Fellowship, students were tasked with exploring the existing collection of the Race & Racism at UR Project at memory.richmond.edu and reflecting on the materials they encountered there.]

by Jacob Roberson

Jacob Roberson is a rising senior on the varsity football team from Richmond, VA double majoring in psychology and sociology. He is a co-vice president of UR Mentoring Network, he is a part of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and during the 2017-2018 academic year he was an appointed student representative of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response. Additionally, he has been inducted into numerous honor societies including Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board, Alpha Kappa Delta, and Psi Chi. He joined the Race & Racism Project in the summer of 2018 as a part of Team Oral History and hopes to remain an active contributor and collaborator into and through the 2018-2019 school year.

I have been able to call Richmond, Virginia home for all 21 years of my life and fortunately have had little to no trouble navigating about it; be it directionally, socially, athletically, racially, etc. Growing up as a multi-sport athlete, division one sports were something I always had on my mind for when I graduated high school and it was time for me to go to college. During my senior year, the University of Richmond, despite its high cost of attending, emerged as a viable option for me to choose to play division one football and be a student athlete. Though the campus is only a mere 15 minutes away from my home, I had only ever been to the campus for a few basketball games in the Robins Center when I was young, and to the intramural fields for a few recreation lacrosse games during high school. I never realized that there were only 3000 undergraduates, I did not know how the coordinate college system of Richmond College and Westhampton College functioned to make the “University of Richmond,” and I certainly did not know that the first black students were not admitted to the main campus until 1968.

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Lemon Project Symposium Presentation: George Modlin’s Segregated University of Richmond by Madeleine Jordan-Lord

On March 16, 2018, five undergraduate students who have worked with the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project had the opportunity to present at the Lemon Project Symposium at the College of William and Mary. The panel, entitled “Seeing the Unseen and Telling the Untold: Institutions, Individuals, and Desegregating the University of Richmond,” was moderated by Dr. Nicole Maurantonio and featured Dominique Harrington, Madeleine Jordan-Lord, Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart, Jennifer Munnings, & Destiny Riley. Below you will find the text and slide images of Madeleine Jordan-Lord’s presentation, focusing on the research she conducted while taking “Digital Memory & the Archive in the fall of 2016.” Click here to explore the exhibit she and her teammates created, “George Modlin’s Segregated University of Richmond.”

Madeleine Jordan-Lord is a 2018 gradaute who majored in American Studies and History at the University of Richmond. She has worked on digital history projects, including the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project, as well as the Abbitt Papers special collection at Boatwright Memorial Library. Over the course of her time at UR, Madeleine has held internships at several non-profits–Art180, Virginia Historical Society, and Tricycle Gardens–creating public curriculum and education-based workshops.

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