by Joy Lim
Joy Lim is a Sophomore from Dallas, Texas majoring in Rhetoric/Communication Studies + Sociology and minoring in Anthropology. She is involved in the Westhampton College Government Association (WCGA), Alpha Phi Omega (APO), Delta Gamma (DG), Korean American Student Association (KASA), YouthLife, and is a mentor in the Peer Advisors and Mentors program (PAM). This is her first year working with the Race & Racism Project but she is interested in continuing this work in the future. She hopes to explore social justice issues not just on the University of Richmond campus but around the world as she continues her studies.
Since I already knew I wanted to research the topic of Greek Life, I continued further reading about race and racism within UR fraternities in hopes of finding more connections within Greek Life. In addition to re-exploring the exhibit on Racism in UR fraternities, I recently gained access to the University of Richmond’s online yearbooks. Historically white sororities started at the University of Richmond in 1987; knowing this date allows me to start my research in that time period. I plan to look through each yearbook starting from 1987 in order to find out what role race and racism played in the founding of sororities and their histories. I also will read through articles in The Collegian from the 1980s and 1990s in order to find more information on sorority history.
When finishing up metadata entries this week, I found myself browsing through The Collegian and happened upon an article describing the details of what fraternities called a “little sister”. Broadening my research to include problematic gender roles or relationships within Greek Life could further unearth racial tensions in the social climate on campus as well. Although the only resources I have immediately accessible are The Collegian and the yearbooks, I am relentlessly searching for more resources. My only concern with researching Greek Life is reflected in my example above. I am worried that once I delve into the connections within Greek Life as a whole, my research may stray from the issue of race and racism to instead confront issues such as gender roles, gender norms, and rape culture.
Incorporating the lessons that I learned from our team meeting with Untold RVA founder Free Egunfemi, I can recognize the systemic inequities rooted within the articles and images that I interact with in my research. I understand the work that needs to be done to expose the white privilege ingrained within the institution of the university and to acknowledge the voices of those facing oppression. While looking through The Collegian archives I was able to spot a variety of topics related to racism due to the conversation that we had with Free Egunfemi. Reading about the University Players in one article and then Governor L. Douglas Wilder in another article really opened my eyes as to how intersectional this issue of racial inequity is. I quite enjoyed reading through The Collegian articles in the archive due to the connection that I felt with the student editors. The opinion pieces were particularly engaging because of the emotion with which the writers conveyed their message.
While conducting research, I am most looking forward to uncovering the parts of history that the university, and a lot of its affiliates such as the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, has worked to keep hidden. Whether intentional or not, this institution has been successful in silencing the voices of the oppressed while glorifying non-existent progress in terms of the social climate on campus. Free Egunfemi has encouraged me to become a voice for those in the past who have been pushed aside and forgotten. The racial tensions, racial issues, and racist acts of the past are still extremely prevalent on our campus today, and it’s crucial that we shed light on this history in order to create an anti-racist future.