Cole Richard is a junior from Orlando, Florida double majoring in English and Italian Studies and minoring in Linguistics. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism project. He is also a resident assistant, DJ at the campus radio station, and student worker at the music library.
When I was assigned my interview subject, Professor Raymond Slaughter, I began my research through the two avenues I thought would be most fruitful: The Race & Racism Project website and the Collegian archives. Unfortunately, relevant search results were rather paltry: One photograph from the project website and a handful of mentions in the Collegian. Although I was thankful to find anything at all, it seemed I had little to write interview questions from. Most of all, I was missing biographical information similar to what Team Oral History had been provided in preparation for our mock interview; I had no idea where Professor Slaughter had grown up or gone to school before coming to work at UR in 1977. Simply searching on Google (using terms such as “Raymond Slaughter,” “Ray Slaughter,” “Professor Slaughter,” “Dr. Slaughter,” and “Richmond,” or “University of Richmond,” etc.) was not especially helpful either. Although my searches yielded over two million results, only a few pertained to the Raymond Slaughter I would be interviewing, and these consisted mostly of outdated UR course catalogs or Whitepages search results that contained nothing more than a matching name. Lacking a profile of biographical information, I decided to put a pin in this and instead focus on considering the ways a faculty experience differs from that of a student, and how the interview and questions asked must differ to accommodate this.
Jenifer Yi is a sophomore from Santa Clarita, California majoring in Biochemistry with a concentration in Neuroscience and a minor in Healthcare Studies. She has been involved with the Race & Racism Project since 2018 and hopes to diversify the conversation and inclusion of all students of color at the University of Richmond. Through her contributions to the project, she wants to push for campus-wide racial awareness. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine while continuing to advocate and raise awareness for healthcare access for minorities.
With formal interviews a week ahead, I slowly began to realize that I was dealing with real people with real emotions and memories. I was nervous about how to handle sensitive topics but at the same time excited to delve into the personal stories of alumni who once roamed the grounds as young, bristling students. I realized that as the interviewer, I had the power to shine a spotlight on specifics of an interviewee’s story while also being a vector for making University history known to others. In preparation for interviewing Professor Raymond Slaughter, Dominic Finney, and Robin Mundle, I decided to begin my research by looking at the University of Richmond Collegian archives for articles including these individuals. I believed that I would be able to find actual quotations from these individuals or what activities and clubs they were involved in on campus. Rather than trying to create a profile or impression of someone through the writing of a third party, I was particularly interested in forming an impression through the words of the interviewee themselves if I could. While searching, I wondered whether or not these interviewees were outspoken about racial issues and how they fit into the campus community.
Shira Greer is a rising sophomore from Fairfax, Virginia majoring in Political Science and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus she is also a Richmond Scholar, an Oliver Hill Scholar, a Peer Advisor and Mentor, and a member of the Executive Council for a Multicultural Space at the University.
Once the excitement of being assigned my first interview subject wore off, I realized I now had the somewhat daunting task of starting to research my subject, 1999 alum Dominic Finney. I was hoping that there would be multiple hits once I searched his name on The Collegian and on the UR Scholarship Repository, but unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck. Each website only pulled up a couple of results, and gave me little insight into how Dominic Finney spent his four years at UR, aside from some of the organizations he was involved in on campus and what he majored in. A Google search returned his LinkedIn page, which gave me a bit more information about what he had been up to since his time as an undergraduate, which included returning UR for both a master’s degree as well as a certificate from the School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Still, I was left with many questions about what Dominic’s life as an undergraduate at the University of Richmond was like. Clearly, I was going to have to shift my focus from being solely on Dominic and instead to different sources that would point to the more general atmosphere on campus.
Meghna Melkote is a rising sophomore from Scranton, Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and Philosophy and minoring in Music. This is her first summer working with the Race & Racism Project as a member of Team Archive. She is involved with the Mock Trial and Debate teams, performs in chamber music ensembles, is a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, and is a content curator for public history platform bunkhistory.org.
This week was spent determining our research topics and looking at how to approach our research questions. These questions centered around the experiences of marginalized students, and support use of the archive as a source of inquiry. I decided to examine the curriculum at the University of Richmond. There are several areas to look at here – I intend to focus on the now defunct Core curriculum/current First Year Seminar classes/required reading, as well as course offerings, course content, and faculty specialties. I intend to examine whether or not the curriculum is Western focused and Eurocentric, and, if it is, to what extent. I will also look at the extent of minority representation in required reading and examine whether or not faculty members have specialties in their disciplines to equip them to teach non-Western centric content.