Omeka - Digital History at Ursinus

Browse Exhibits (2 total)

"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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Major Growth, Minor Pains: The Development of the AAAS Program at Ursinus College

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The African American and Africana Studies (AAAS) program is a recent addition to Ursinus College, as new as 2004. The program offers a minor to students interested in exploring the African Diaspora in the U.S. and beyond. In this exhibit, we will explore the growth of one of the college's most interdisciplinary programs. This will include a full history of the AAAS program beginning with student intrigue and courses prior to 2004, past and current courses and professors of the program, and the impact of the program on the culture and student life at Ursinus including SPINT housing, and program oriented events and trips.

Before the African American and Africana Studies program was official at Ursinus; there were many demands for more educational courses about Black and African History included within Ursinus' curriculum. The most pregestious advocate was Byron Jackson who was a Black, male student at Ursinus College and led Ursinus' BSA/BSU. Aside from Byron, there were also other students from Ursinus' past who voiced their opinion on the lack of courses about Black studies. This portion will include articles from the Ursinus Weekly, now known as The Grizzly, that illustrate the concern and yearn for courses on Black and African History. These discussions highlight the need for Black Studies at Ursinus before the arrival of the AAAS program.

The AAAS program is compromised of courses from numerous different departments. Since its start, the AAAS minor has been 20 credits with 4 credits of introductory classes. Through the 15 years that the program has existed, classes have changed department or name, been eliminated, and new ones have been added. The diverse courses offered reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the program.

Viewers learn of how the Ursinus College African American and Africana Studies Program has impacted both culture and student life on campus. Since created, the program has provided students with the chance to learn of a diverse Africana history and culture by allowing students to enroll in program classes, complete research, and attend events and program trips. 

The AAAS program today consists of many professors who reside in different departments, which provides each of them unique knowledge to make the program as well as rounded and perceptive as it is today. Many of the professors contribute in their own way through various courses in their particular department that focus on the African experience. As shown in the Courses and Requirements page, some of these classes include a philosophy course, previously taught by Reverend Rice, about the African American Religious Experience, to an English course, taught by Dr. Lott, about the African American experience in colleges throughout the country. 

Cloake House History: The Cloake House is a residential alternative for students who are interested in AAAS or service roles in Sankofa Umoja NIA (S.U.N.) S.U.N. advocates for the needs of students at Ursinus while empowering, teaching, discussing and exploring the Black experience. The organization helps students strive for academic excellence, and promotes positive images of black people while also helping students become an integral part of the Ursinus College community. Cloake House began under Special Interest Housing (SPINT) which provides students with a unique opportunity to collaborate with faculty and their peers to create an affinity group. The affinity group should encourage students to come together for a common purpose while contributing to campus life. SPINT is an entirely student-run program, each house is assigned with an advisor who will support them in setting goals for the year to create and execute programs for the year. Students both interested in Africana and African American Studies and American History came together under SPINT housing. Now the Cloake House falls under affinity housing which allows students both interested in the AAAS program and S.U.N. to live in the house. Cloake House has had a rich history at Ursinus College. The events hosted at the house have ranged from socials such as hair mask-making to poster painting parties to discussions about the black experience at Ursinus College. While the house has faced criticisms for creating a space for those interested in AAAS and S.U.N., the house overall has proved to be a safe space for students at Ursinus College, specifically students of color. With the support and guidance of Dr. O the advisor for Cloake House, the residents of Cloake hope to accomplish more educational events in collaboration with the AAAS Department beginning semester 2020.

The AAAS program had little to no campus visibility prior to 2012-2013 academic school year when Dr. Nzadi Keita assumed the role of program coordinator. Early on, the program was budget-less and partnerships with Rev. Charles Rice and the Chaplain’s office, Mrs. Patton and Multicultural Services, and students from Sankofa Umoja Nia (S.U.N.) made these events possible. With the arrival of Dr. Edward Onaci, the program started hosting a Fall Social and Kwanza celebration in 2013. As the program began to grow, they were able to petition the Arts and Lecture Committee an eventually receive funding in 2015. The African American Africana Studies guest lecture series soon followed and was renamed the Rev. Charles Rice Speaker Series in 2017. It is crucial to note that the creation/hosting of programming is an additional responsibility that core members of the AAAS Program have taken on in addition to producing scholarship, teaching, advising and serving on committees. Faculty had to insist that these programs would count as part of their service to the college in order to meet the needs of students requesting such events, faculty, and staff who look like them.

We would like to thank Dr. Patricia Lott, Ms. Carolyn Weigel, and Mr. Andrew Prock for their continuous support and assistance.

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