by Meghna Melkote
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.
Throughout my research, I’ve found a lot of Collegian articles over whether or not to require Western Civilizations as a course. This article, written by staff editorialist Scott Shepard, is a response to a piece written by student Jennifer Rabold. Shepard’s main argument is that “history is not restricted by race or gender,” and that Western Civilization is everyone’s history. I’ve been doing research on the history of an integrated curriculum, and I’ve generally stayed away from inserting a strong opinion into what I find. However, it was this article that allowed me to form an argument as to why we need to engage different, non-Western perspectives in our academics. Rather than simply discuss what he says, I would like to take some time to directly refute Shepard’s argument in a manner relevant to my research project.
by Gabby Kiser
Gabby Kiser is a junior from Williamsburg, Virginia majoring in English and minoring in History. This is her first summer with the Race & Racism Project. She is also the general manager of WDCE 90.1 FM, a design editor for The Messenger, and a Bunk content wrangler.
Over the years, the Messenger literary magazine has had its ups and downs on campus. Not only has it encountered numerous periods of disinterest from students; it’s regularly been the target of a great amount of criticism. A lot of this criticism has condemned the magazine’s lack of humor and, as one 1957 Collegian article put it, “nebulous stories and poetry.” In 1960, for example, Collegian columnist Edie Graves called the average Messenger “a total loss” and begged for a change. Still, when the magazine became the satirical Messenger Lampoon in 1977, a number of students were incensed that the campus would be without a literary magazine, even for just a year. One Collegian article from 1955, though, takes the cake as the strangest statement I’ve discovered of what the Messenger is and should be.
“Now You Know: Messenger Voices Thoughts” by Harold Gibson is framed as an explanation of a vague description of the Messenger found in Student Handbooks. Said description mentions the magazine’s “editorial policy of literary quality” as its defining characteristic. Gibson takes it upon himself, then, to explain what “literary quality” means by delving into an argument of what counts as literary realism and attacking work that “approaches the vulgar just for the sake of the vulgar.” The Messenger, he alleges, accepts none of this “pornographic trash.” And though he assures readers that the Messenger isn’t “high brow” and urges student participation, his article comes off as aggressive rather than welcoming.
by Nathan Burns
Nathan Burns is a junior from Newtown, Pennsylvania double-majoring in French and Leadership Studies and minoring in English. This summer of 2019 marks Nathan’s first time working with the Race & Racism Project. On campus, Nathan is also a writing consultant and a member of the dining services student advisory committee.
In my research this summer documenting racism and segregation in dining services on campus, I wish I had the opportunity to focus more on racial dynamics between Food Service employees, administrators, and students. I find this subtopic of my larger research project and exhibit “Dining Discrimination at the University of Richmond” especially important since a majority of Food Service employees are Black and because the University of Richmond has been known to hire employees of color for these jobs as long as there have been dining halls on campus. Unfortunately, I was unable to include many items relating to Food Service employees in my final project exhibit because the exhibit focused instead on narratives of student experiences with segregation and their relationships with dining services. That said, I would like to dedicate this blog post to a few of the articles and correspondences I found in my research that indicate Food Service employees’ fight to be considered as professionals in their line of work. The dining hall workers deserve a place in this narrative of racism in dining services, and their voices should not go unheard in this discussion of dining hall discrimination.
by Destiny Riley
Destiny Riley is a Class of 2019 graduate from Maumelle, Arkansas, majoring in Rhetoric & Communication Studies and double minoring in Sociology and American Studies. Destiny first contributed to the Race & Racism at UR Project during an independent study course in the Spring of 2017, and then joined the team again via Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017. This post was written as part of a Spring 2019 independent study with the Race & Racism Project.
From the late 1980s to the late 2000s, the Collegian published a feature series titled “That’s What You Think.” The series, consisting of the responses from five people to a posed question also included a picture of each respondent most of the time. The respondents ranged from students to professors. While many of the questions prompted lighthearted responses, such as ones discussing Vanilla Ice, others prompted much more complex, and often problematic, responses. These features provided insight into people’s thinking throughout various years and decades. Not only did the features shed light on the University community’s critiques of the University, but also illuminated people’s problematic views on topics such as homosexuality and gender stereotypes. One of the articles that caught my attention in this series posed the following question: What do you think about race relations at UR?
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.
“The co-ed shrieks as the panting wild eyed men, feverish with desire, grope for her panties…. The scene does not seem nearly as sordid when one realizes that the girl in question, along with the other members of her hall, are carrying on this ceremony from the second floor of their dorm, safely out of reach of their assailants, and armed with an arsenal of trash cans filled with water. Having thus prepared themselves after discerning the tell-tale pre-Panty Raid ritualistic eries from across the lake, the girls are more than equal to the task of cooling their male counterpart’s ardor.”
by Tucker Shelley
Tucker Shelley is a rising senior at UR from Burlington, Vermont. He is a member of the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. In his free time, Tucker prefers staying active and listening to good music. This is his first summer working on the Race & Racism Project and will continue similar work next semester for Dr. Maurantonio in the “Digital Memory and the Archive” course.
Throughout my journey through old Collegian articles, I’ve seen all kinds of articles. Some leave me scratching my head, while others just get my blood boiling. The article I am expressing my opinion on falls under the latter group. The article in question is titled “MSU’s name change misdirected.” It was written by a white Richmond college student and Collegian contributing editor by the name of Scott Shepard in the year 1993.
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.
The following blog post contains some contentious language. Please consider the intent of its use as you read on.
Archival work sometimes requires you to act like a detective by following a series of artifacts and connecting all the dots in order to uncover a story. My first archival detective journey started with a full-page photo of a black man I found in The Web 1971 yearbook. During this time, it was quite rare to find minorities represented in the yearbooks, let alone have a dedicated full-page photograph. The speaker’s name was not mentioned in the caption of the photo, so I emailed our Project Archivist, Irina Rogova, to see if she could identify the man. She informed me that he was Dick Gregory, a black comedian, author, actor, activist, and civil rights leader who came to speak on campus in December 1970 as part of a lecture series. This sparked my interest, so I decided to look through the Collegian newspaper archives to find more background and context.
by Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart
Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is a sophomore at the University of Richmond who is double-majoring in Economics and Mathematics. Elizabeth is a Boatwright and Oliver Hill Scholar, who tutors at the Academic Skill Center. She has been involved with the Race and Racism Project since the summer of 2017, as an A&S Summer Fellow. She is excited to discover more about the University of Richmond’s past as she believes it is linked to the city of Richmond’s interesting history. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
In Alley’s University of Richmond, the author emphasizes the institution’s first integration of black students to the main campus by mentioning the admission of Barry Greene in 1968. (p. 98) However, I want to dig deeper into the effect and success of the integration of black people at the university, especially black women. In an article of the Collegian from September, 1971, Thomas N. Pollard Jr., Director of Admissions of Richmond College at the time reported that “definite but slow” progress was being made in the recruitment of blacks to the University of Richmond. (Tatum, 1971, p. 4) Linda Tatum, the author of the article reported the opinion of multiple black students at the time, and two main concerns arise: the lack of social life for black students and the disproportional amount of black women living on campus. Immediately after reading this article I start wondering: Why does it take longer to integrate black females than black males?
On December 7, 1978, multiple articles in the Collegian guided me to the answer to this question. The first one, titled “Recruiting Troubles Cited by Students” reported that “recruitment of blacks at the University of Richmond is concentrated in the athletic department”. The article emphasizes that a majority of black males were attracted to the university by the athletic scholarship programs; otherwise, they would not be able to afford it. Indeed, this lack of effort in recruiting black students outside of athletics was one of the main reasons why out of 45 black undergraduates at the time, only six were women. The financial burden as a cause for this imbalance is further emphasized by Valerie Collins, a black junior enrolled at the time. She states that “most of the black females are from middle-class families, who have grown up around predominately white neighborhoods”. She admitted growing up in an all-white neighborhood, as her father was a Baptist minister.
by Anna Lowenthal
Anna Lowenthal is a junior from Larchmont, New York, double majoring in Political Science and Rhetoric and Communication Studies. The most interesting part of the project to her has been the process of making connections between past and present and learning more about the history of the University. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
“Collegian Forum: The Dixie Resolution” written for The Collegian at the University of Richmond on November 5th, 1971 gives a direct insight into campus culture as the University of Richmond slowly became a more tolerant and inclusive place. While it may be hard to grasp what the campus rhetoric was by reading most articles or looking at pictures, this direct letter from a member of the Student Government Association (SGA)–Gaston Williams–provides a unique perspective. The fact that this is a letter stuck out to me because it is someone’s thoughts unedited; I can get an honest idea of how some people on campus felt.