Censorship on College Campuses: The Mystery of The Collegian Sex Survey

Over ten weeks this summer, 10 A&S Summer Fellows, 1 Spider Intern, 5 faculty mentors, and 1 community partner (Untold RVA) collaborated on The Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project. Final projects focused on the Race & Racism Project included exhibits, podcasts, and digital stories. Over the next few weeks, we will feature these works.

Karissa Lim is a senior at the University of Richmond double majoring in Psychology and Rhetoric & Communication Studies. She first worked with the Race & Racism at UR Project during the Fall 2016 semester in the class Digital Memory & the Archive. Her final project in Fall 2016 was a timeline outlining the history of Race and Education between 1946 and 1971 with team member Damian Hondares. She returned to the project as a 2017 A&S Summer Research Fellow, working with the project remotely from her hometown of Franklinville, New Jersey and traveling to neighboring Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to conduct site visits.

Karissa’s final project was a digital story entitled “Censorship on College Campuses: The Mystery of The Collegian Sex Survey.” A bit about the topic in her own words:

While creating metadata for the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project, Summer Research Fellow Karissa Lim (’18) stumbled upon a series of letters from 1968 that referenced a Collegian sex survey that had been censored. As a social science and humanities student, Karissa was curious about the content of the survey and set out to find the questions and results, hoping that these would provide more context and answers. Unfortunately, Karissa could not find the questions or results of the second half of the survey. This mystery raised more questions about freedom of speech and religious reputation on the University of Richmond’s campus.

View Karissa’s digital story and other projects via our digital collection at memory.richmond.edu

No John Trumbull

BlogPost3.Photo1_Lim_062217By Karissa Lim

The title for this piece is sourced from the song “No John Trumbull” from the Hamilton MixtapeWatch if performed here.

Located near Chinatown in Old City, the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is the first institution built by a major US city to preserve, interpret, and exhibit African American culture. Across from the museum are two federal buildings: the Federal Detention Center and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The museum consists of four galleries; currently, they have two art exhibits and two history exhibits. On display on the first floor of the museum is “Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia: 1776-1876.” This exhibit attempts to tell the history of African Americans in Philadelphia through photos, light projections, a timeline, and audio. It answers questions museumgoers may have about African American culture in Philadelphia and the contributions they made to not only the abolitionist movement but also the city’s history. Read more

Saved?: Preserving Society Hill and Old Philadelphia

BlogPost3.Photo1_Lim_062217By Karissa Lim

The Philadelphia History Museum is a two-level city history museum, claiming to be “your gateway into Philadelphia’s past!”. It has a daunting task before it: telling the history of the city of Philadelphia. The museum uses its exhibits to proudly show us where the city has been and question where it will go. Though its story was one of Philadelphian pride, the museum did not shy away from acknowledging tensions, such as those between races and citizens and government. The exhibit on preserving historic sites in Philadelphia, “Saved! Preserving Old Philadelphia: 85 Years of The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks,” used unique storytelling and interactive methods to describe the challenges in preserving Philadelphia’s history.

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Monumental Research

By Karissa Lim

Though I had ventured into Philadelphia countless times before, I had no idea where I was going. I walked up and down 19th Street, trying to find Logan Square Park and the two war memorials I wanted to see. Logan Square Park is located in Center City Philadelphia; it is a circular park surrounded by various historic sites such as the Franklin Institute and Central Library. One of Philadelphia’s major roads, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, turns into a roundabout with Logan Square Park at its center. Flags from different countries line the sides of the parkway. Figuring that the park was a well-known site, I asked a police officer for help; however, he sent me in the wrong direction. After a moment of panic, I looked at my phone and realized my mistake. Once I turned around and walked a few blocks, the crowds thinned out and I finally found the park. My next challenge was to find two memorials: the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and the All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors. I walked around the large, circular fountain in the park, desperately searching for these two monuments. A few homeless people were laid out on park benches and a small group teens were walking around the fountain. Finally, in the distance, I spotted the white stone of the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. With cars whizzing past on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, I began running towards it and hoped that I would not get hit.

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Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memorial with a view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway

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Frustration, Archiving, and Reimagining Histories

By Karissa Lim

When I worked on the Race and Racism at UR Project in the class, Digital Memory & the Archive, I gained experience with creating metadata, examining documents in archives, and developing a timeline. I learned that during George Modlin’s presidency, the university struggled with racial integration; there was pressure from the government and student body to integrate while the board of trustees and administration attempted to appease them without taking significant strides towards full integration. Eventually, the university enrolled its first full-time black students. However, their experiences and the experiences of other people of color on campus are not well-known. My class attempted to uncover these silenced stories by searching through the university’s archives. We went through alumni bulletins, The Collegian, yearbooks, and more. Though we gained a better understanding of these students’ experiences, there is still so much more to learn and uncover.

What we learned through our work clashed with the image the University of Richmond currently promotes, which was frustrating to me not only as a current student but also as a student of color. The university boasts a diverse student body, but it is still a predominantly white institution where students of color experience some discrimination. In addition, Richmond students do not fully know about the racial struggles throughout the university’s history. Richmond students may believe that the school is progressive, yet may not know about the racial tensions and harsh realities that students of color experienced, which may have carried over to experiences today. They do not know that some of the buildings on campus, such as Freeman Hall and Gray Court, are named after people who were racists. The university’s history is complex, and we cannot ignore it or forget it. The voices of students of color past and present matter. This is why this project is so important. This is why archives are important. We must make sure that we find and preserve the voices of students of color so that we can challenge the current narrative and change the current campus culture.

Michelle Caswell would call this “strategic essentialism.” She writes in her chapter “Inventing New Archival Imaginaries” published in the edited volume Identity Palimpsests, “Through strategic essentialism, we can both acknowledge that identity categories are often socially constructed by the powerful in order to marginalize those who are perceived to fit within those categories, and at the same time, leverage those constructed categories to organize for common goals” (p. 41). Furthermore, Caswell introduces the concepts of memoryscapes and imaginaries. Through digital archiving, archivists create a digital memoryscape which creates an “opportunity for individuals to communicate memories, for communities to forge collective memories, and for individuals and communities to contest those collective memories once forged” (p.45). Furthermore, through digitization, these memories can be accessed more easily by more people, which allows for greater communication and contestation. Digital archiving not only preserves the past but can also help us imagine new possibilities. Caswell writes, “archivists are not just memory activists, but visionaries whose work reconceives imagined worlds through space and time” (p.49). Therefore, digital archiving—as my fellow researchers and I will be doing in the coming weeks—not only uncovers lost memories but also creates a space in which we can discuss, challenge, and reimagine these memories.

I am excited to work with the Race and Racism at UR Project again and to continue the work I started last fall in Digital Memory and the Archive. The frustration I felt while completing work for the class has not ceased; I want to give a voice to silenced minorities throughout the university’s history so that we as a campus can begin to understand and challenge our collective memory of our school.

Karissa Lim is a rising senior at the University of Richmond double majoring in Psychology and Rhetoric & Communication Studies. She worked with the Race and Racism at UR Project during the Fall 2016 semester in the class Digital Memory and the Archive. She is working on the project again during Summer 2017 as a correspondent in Philadelphia, PA. 

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