Digital History at Ursinus

Browse Exhibits (4 total)

Bears Make GSA History

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About

Welcome to Bears Make GSA History! Our exhibit examines the history of the Gender Sexuality Alliance (formerly known as GALA) at Ursinus College, (located in southeastern Pennsylvania) from 1991 to 2000. Join us as we examine the discussions about, representations of, and controversies surrounding the formation and first ten years of the GSA, as seen in articles published in the school newspaper, The Grizzly.

Our project asks the question: "How did the GSA handle conflict and controversies in its first ten years of existence?" Our major subsections are as follows:

Genesis: GALA, 1991. Explore the formation and first semester of the Ursinus College GSA as it weathered visceral public defamation at the hands of a small but vocal group of students and professors. 

Conflict and Conversation: 1995. Examine continued debate about GALA, sexuality, and the LGBTQ+ community at Ursinus College. Several articles condemn the group, while many other voices advocate. 

LGBTQ+ Identities in Media, 2000: Explore representations of the LGBTQ+ community in popular culture in the New Millennium. 

Global: Connect the microhistory of local events with national trends. 

We would like to thank Ms. Carolyn Weigel, Mr. Andy Prock, Ms. Christine Ianicelli, and Drs. Throop and McShane for making this project possible. Ms. Weigel opened the Ursinusiana archives for our research, guiding our research processes by directing us to resources and contacts. Mr. Prock's expertise on scanning made the digitization of our project possible, while Ms. Ianicelli's technical knowledge gave us confidence in navigating Omeka.

 

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Reading Between the Letters: Inclusivity of Marginalized Groups in Ursinus College's Greek Life

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Reading Between the Letters is an Ursinus digital history project that records the inclusion of marginalized groups within Greek Life from the 1970s to present day. During this time frame, values of diversity and inclusion began to gain momentum on a national scale with the civil rights and feminist movements. Our research seeks to understand how Ursinus was affected by and responded to the national discourse on diversity and Greek life.

Our research question is: How inclusive has Greek life on campus been of marginalized groups, including women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community?

Our primary sources include Ursinus' newspaper articles, especially opinions and editorial pieces, to understand overall inter-fraternity and sorority policies and broader student body responses. We also use photos from the yearbooks of Greek organizations to complement our findings from the newspapers. Our exhibit presents and compares articles about greeks, faculty, and the student body as a whole to gage the way racial and gender inclusivity has played a role in Greek life. 

The sections of this project include:

The History of Ursinus' Greek Life: a timeline of the complete history of Greek organizations at Ursinus and overview of the past conflicts about pledging between administration and Greek life.

Gender Segregation and Inclusion in Greek Life: a discussion on critiques of Greek life's gender segregation and information about the four gender-inclusive Greek organizations in Ursinus' history.

Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Greek Life: Ursinus has had Greek organizations on campus for the past 110 years, but the campus only saw organizations focused on racial diversity and inclusion starting 25 years ago. This section will focus on why these racially diverse organizations were present and how Ursinus responded to this. 

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The Curtain Club's Closing Curtain

The Curtain Club was Ursinus' student theater organization that definitively originated in 1930, but it disappeared in 1968. During the same year, the club changed its name to "ProTheatre." By analyzing past articles from the Ursinus Weekly, Ruby yearbooks, diversity ratios among students, performances, and campus trends from the 1950s until 1968, we demonstrate that the name signifies Ursinus' focus on the transition into a more inclusive and democratic environment. Reorganizing the "Curtain Club" into "ProTheatre" signifies Ursinus' shift into being "pro-change."

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"Where They At?" Ursinus Recruitment and Retention of Students of Color

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“Simply adding bodies doesn’t actually address the systems of power and complex institutional issues.” - Dr. Patricia Lott

  • This exhibit focuses on Ursinus College efforts to recruit and retain students of color. The primary sources are taken from the Ursinusiana archives at Myrin Library on campus. These sources range from newspaper articles reporting on administrative discussions or decisions, the formulation of clubs or events targeted towards students of color, and sources directly documenting administrative communication regarding diversity on campus.

  • Readers should note that we have decided to use the terms “students of color” and “people of color” because it captures all the groups contained in the sources. We are mostly referring to students that identify with the African Diaspora along with people from the carribean and Latin America. However, many sources referring to these groups will use the phrase “minority”. We chose “people of color” / “students of color” instead of the term “minority” because our project does not include minorities of other kinds (women, LGBTQ, differently abled people, etc.), and we have good reason to believe each source using the term “minority” is referring to people of color and racial minorities, not other marginalized groups.

Our exhibit is organized into four parts:

1. Racial (rā-shəl) Realities (rē-ˈa-lə-tē): is the collection of articles in the Ursinus College newspaper The Grizzly describing how campus was before administration took note of the racial disparity and listing concerns and suggestions from students of color.

2. Recruitment (ri-ˈkrüt-mənt)the action of finding new people to join an organization or support a cause - this collection displays administrative efforts to recruit students of color, including primary sources which document administrative discussion, then establishment of the Bridge Program and Minority Affairs Committee as well as marketing efforts.

3. Retention (ri-ˈten(t)-shən): the ability to keep or continue having something - this collection displays continued efforts to create an environment at Ursinus College which is attractive to students of color, including investment in African-American studies, the establishment of a Minority Student Union, and efforts to hire increasing numbers of faculty and staff of color.

4. Reactions (rē-ˈak-shən)an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event - this collection documents post-1995 events and articles displaying continued efforts or ways that the College has adjusted in response to these diversity efforts.

In African America Africana Studies class we've reviewed, Black Campus Movement by Ibram Kendi. Which relates back to our main purpose behind the creation of this exhibit to educate the viewer on Ursinus College efforts in the Recruitment and Retention of students of color. Kendi states, “Generally, they demanded better credentialed black faculty, whereas also demanding faculty power and a clear system based on merit…for their hiring, firing, and tenure.” (I. Kendi, pg. 113) In our source, "Can a Black Man find Happiness?", Nate Dupree an Ursinus College student voiced some of the ways he would change the campus life academically and socially. Nate tells the interviewer, “I would add a Fine Arts Program and a black studies program. Of course you would need some black administrators and black professors.” This is one of the many ways that our sources relates back to the coursework. Our exhibit doesn't only relate back to the text we've read but to some of the Curriculum Enrichment events the students of AAAS-200 had to attend. The Race and University Roundtable talk, relates with our exhibit because the exhibit offers background on the climate of Ursinus Campus during the height of huge racial disparity on campus. At the talk Mayor Aidsand Wright-Riggins, the first African-American to be Mayor of Collegeville, he gave the audience his first hand experience with racial disparity at California State University, Fullerton. He described his time there as simply being a number to the institution and not feeling supported. Mayor Wright-Riggins is echoing sentiments of people throughout the country who attend Predominantly White Institutions and are feeling unsupported, just like the countless accounts of students at Ursinus College who shared those concerns.

This exhibit would like to Thank: Dr. Patricia Lott (Professor of African American and Africana Studies), Carolyn Weigel (Ursinus College Archivist), Mr. Andy Prock (Scholary Communications and Metadata Librarian), and Ms. Christine Iannicelli (Instructional Technology Librarian) for their help and service.

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