Creating Change and Community: Histories of Activism at OSU

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“Creating Change and Community: Histories of Activism at OSU” is a pop up exhibit that highlights historical moments of student activism at Oregon State University. Each panel includes background information, an overview of strategies used, and the impact and result of the student activism. The exhibit is intended to celebrate student speech activity and activism at OSU. Celebrating every moment would be impossible; this exhibit features specific moments and is intended to represent diversity across time, strategies, and issues. We hope to expand the exhibit with additional examples of activism.

The exhibit “popped up” by the SEC and MU plazas during weeks 1 and of fall term 2018…

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The stories featured include:

  • The Black Student Union Walk Out ~ As a local embodiment of the national Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s, in October of 1968, fifty-five OSU students established the Black Student Union (BSU) with the mission to give Black students a united voice regarding their educational experiences and needs. Just a few months later, a conflict between the head football coach and a player named Fred Milton, a black student athlete, sparked the newly formed organization into action. As a result, the BSU walk out of 1969 forever changed race relations on OSU’s campus.
  • African Students’ Association Anti-Apartheid Movement ~ Apartheid in South Africa, from 1948-1994, was the legalized policy of segregation and political, economic, and social discrimination based on race. In the 1970s, the United Nations condemned apartheid as a violation of human rights, and various organizations in the international and United States sports community barred South Africa from athletic competition. In the early 1980s OSU’s African Students’ Association voiced its opposition to the OSU wrestling team’s connections, specifically the head coach’s relationship, to the South African Wrestling Federation. Those in favor of the relationship argued that sports and politics should remain separate, while those in opposition argued that the OSU wrestling team’s actions were indirectly condoning apartheid.
  • Declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Corvallis ~ For many years Indigenous communities have condemned the celebration of the federally recognized holiday “Columbus Day” to commemorate Christopher Columbus, a man who, along with his contemporaries, launched an era of genocide and slavery. Instead, Indigenous communities have called for the recognition and celebration of the Indigenous peoples thriving in the Americas prior to Columbus’ arrival, as well as in the present day. On Monday, October 12, 2015 the City of Corvallis celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time and became a part of the larger national movement to honor the history and living legacies of the first peoples of the Americas.
  • Students of Color Speak Out ~ Inspired by the students at the University of Missouri, on November 16, 2015, members of OSU’s students of color bravely shared experiences of racism endured throughout their lives and as part of their educational experiences at OSU. The “Students of Color Speak Out” in Gill Coliseum was the result of a petition to President Ed Ray to address the students’ need for the university to prioritize their safety and well-being. The “Speak Out” concluded with a call to action for the administration to make institutional changes to move OSU toward being a more socially just and inclusive campus.

To access the exhibit PDFs, be sure to download the file when prompted.

The exhibit is a part of OSU’s “We Have Work to Do” campaign, #wehaveworktodo

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We Have Work To Do encourages all Oregon State community members to find their roles as essential contributors to the creation of an inclusive and equitable university.

The exhibit was curated by members of the Coalition for Supporting Activism & Protected Speech at OSU. Members include representatives from ASOSU; Office of Student Life; Office of Institutional Diversity; School of History, Philosophy, and Religion; OSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center; Diversity & Cultural Engagement; Advancing Academic Equity for Student Success; Educational Opportunities Program; the Center for Civic Engagement; Student Experiences & Engagement; and the Ethnic Studies Program.

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OSQA at the Corvallis Pride Festival 2018

Pride Festival 2018 logo

The OSU Queer Archives (OSQA) had a booth at this year’s Corvallis PRIDE Festival! This was our first time at PRIDE as an organization and it was an incredible opportunity to connect to the LGBTQ+ community in the area.

Our booth was all about sparkles, colors, and fun on the cloudy September day. We had a “spinner wheel” game courtesy of the Valley Library and while the fun colors and spinner wheel drew people into the booth they stayed for the conversation and information. We talked to people across age ranges, identities, and experiences. One of the more striking similarities between the dozens of conversations we had was the excitement attendees showed for our organization and mission. Largely, people had never heard of OSQA and when they walked up the booth could not name the acronym! However, once we had a chance to chat and explain who we were every single visitor was excited about our work. Repeatedly we heard comments such as “That is really important work” and “I’m so glad you exist! We need a history of our community!” Particularly older community members were glad to see that an official archive of LGBT life and activism is being created. Such a thing had not existed when they were students and young people themselves and they were glad to see we were undertaking such a project.

Students were also excited to see themselves reflected in the archives. One student expressed surprise and gratitude that the Queer Archives had its own title and staff. Students showed interest in our upcoming Glitter in the Archives event and liked the idea of crafting among fellow LGBT community members in a physical space that placed their history centrally.

One of the best parts of the event was the opportunity to share some of our physical pieces from our collection! Dozens of people flipped through comic collections and picture books about gay characters and by queer authors. “Wow!” one local high school student exclaimed. “They’re showing gay people like regular people! I love it!” Another OSU student stayed to read an entire collection for over half an hour. Particularly younger visitors had no idea that such resources existed, nor that they could be accessed in the OSQA. It was a joy to be able to share our collection with the community.

The attitude and energy of the entire event was overwhelmingly positive. The Corvallis Pride Festival is “dedicated to connecting the LGBTQ+ Community in Linn/Benton counties.” The Oregon State Queer Archives was overjoyed to be a part of that mission and to connect the current LGBTQ+ community to a shared history of life, activism, and literature here in Corvallis, OR.

~ Devon Graham, OSQA Archives Student Worker and OSU Graduate Student in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

Devon at the OSQA booth!

Devon at the OSQA booth!

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The OMA at JCLC

jclc-logoThe OMA was at JCLC this year – and presented! The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color is a conference sponsored by five associations of ethnic librarians, including the American Indian Library Association (AILA), Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA). JCLC brings together a diverse group of librarians, library staff, library supporters, and community participants to explore issues of diversity in libraries and how they affect the ethnic communities who use our services. The previous JCLC conference took place 6 year ago and the OMA was in attendance – OMA JCLC 2012. And, the OMA was featured in library-world news via American Libraries!

“Campus Connections to White Supremacy: Reconciliation through Community Engagement and Historical Research”

Building and place names play an important role in how community members interact with, remember, and revere their histories. In recent years, more and more communities, including colleges and universities, across the United States are challenging the existence of memorials associated with the confederacy and white supremacy. These memorials, whether they are statues, building namesakes, or place names, are symbolic of the long historical threads of racism, institutionalized discrimination, and the use of public spaces to perpetuate dominant narratives. These issues must be addressed as part of the efforts of inclusivity and equity that increasingly characterize the culture of college campuses. In this environment, archivists and special collections librarians are often called upon to provide historical context. We also have the opportunity to engage our communities in productive and transformative discourses. In addition to an overview of campuses across the United States engaging their communities in efforts to reconcile current values of inclusion and diversity with their racist histories, as a case study, attendees will learn about the Building and Places Names Evaluation process at Oregon State University (OSU). When OSU names a building, it speaks to its values and efforts towards creating an institution that respects and affirms the dignity of all individuals and communities. Therefore, OSU community members who raised concerns regarding campus buildings whose namesakes may have held or espoused racist or otherwise exclusionary views, posed an important question: “What does it mean for OSU to value equity and inclusion if individuals after whom its buildings are named did not?” Beginning in 2016, OSU began a process to answer this question by developing evaluation criteria, working with community stakeholders, responding to a student protest, providing a team of scholars historical research assistance, designing and implementing a community engagement plan, and planning for permanent education accessible to community members. Attendees will be able to adapt the information learned to plan for collaboration within their own communities, articulate the significance of building and place names with community inclusivity efforts, and advocate for the role of archivists and research librarians to help inform urgent, often fraught public debate.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify and reference a variety of campuses across the United States that have engaged their communities in efforts to reconcile current values of inclusion and diversity with their racist histories.
  • Adapt the information learned from the Oregon State University case study to develop, design, and implement historical research plans, community engagement initiatives, and permanent education proposals for local communities.
  • Articulate the significance of building and place names for community inclusivity efforts and advocate for the role of archivists and research librarians to help inform urgent, often fraught public debate.

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The OMA Featured in C&RL News

ona-c&rl-newsThe OMA was featured in “Internet Reviews” within College & Research Libraries News!

Below is the text of the post, and here is the link to Vol 79 No 8 (2018) Internet Reviews

Oregon Multicultural Archives

The Oregon Multicultural Archives (OMA) web portal gathers the Oregon State University (OSU) Special Collections and Archives Researcher Center and OSU Library’s archival and digital collections on African American, Asian American, Latino/a, and Native American communities. OMA was established in 2005 to highlight its multicultural collections as well as provide a link out to other institutions and organizations with multicultural archives. Since then it has grown through collaborations with multicultural educators and archivists, museums, other academic library special collections, and organizations such as the Oregon Tribal Archives Institute and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. OMA, over the past 13 years, has developed into a rich, engaging resource of multicultural history in the Pacific Northwest for students and researchers alike.

Readers can browse guides on general information or specific peoples and cultures. The guides feature special projects, manuscript collections, special topics, a community’s history in Oregon, Oregon Multicultural Communities Research Collection files, and their connection within the OSU community.

The African American People and Culture guide, for example, gathers descriptions and links to records of organizations like the Urban League of Portland and St. Philip the Deacon Parish. It also provides finding aids for manuscript collections such as the Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection, Harold C. Williams Papers documenting community activism and civic leadership, and the Corvallis branch of the NAACP. Histories of OSU campus organizations such as Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center and Black Student Union (BSU), and student activism like the BSU walkout of 1969 and the 1996 student boycott are included.

The Latinos en Oregon Oral History Interviews is a project between Yamhill County Cultural Coalition, Yamhill County Historical Society and Museum, Oregon Multicultural Archives, and Unidos Bridging Community. It has more than 30 interviews featuring diverse stories from Latino communities in Yamhill County, Madras, The Gorge, Hood River, and The Dalles, Oregon. The collection has audio, video, and interview summaries in Spanish and some English.

The guide illustrates a vibrant and diverse picture of Oregon’s communities. This engaging site highlights the integral part these communities’ histories play in contributing to Oregon’s identity, and the overall history of the region.

—Hilary Robbeloth, University of Puget Sound

“Internet Reviews” by Joni R. Roberts and Carol A. Drost

Joni R. Roberts is associate university librarian for public services and collection development at Willamette University, and Carol A. Drost is associate university librarian for technical services at Willamette University

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The Urban League of Portland’s 2018 Equal Opportunity Day Awards Dinner

ulpdx-2018-04The Urban League of Portland hosted its 2018 Equal Opportunity Dinner (EOD) on September 11, 2018 at the Oregon Convention Center, an Extraordinary Extravaganza! It was also the 50th year commemorating the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and an opportunity to revisit his message that he delivered to the Portland Community in November 1961 about “Eliminating the Barriers to Equal Opportunity.” And the OMA was in attendance to showcase archival materials from the ULPDX archival collection.

Each year, the Urban League of Portland holds the EOD to showcase its programs and services which it has directed to help build financial stability, promote self-care and awareness, and provide access to employment, affordable housing, quality schools, or even the basic opportunities to succeed like food and health care. Also, it was a time to honor extraordinary people that have helped empower and change lives in Oregon. This year the keynote address was given by Sadiqa Reynolds, President and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, and the EOD Honoree was Honorable Ancer L. Haggerty, (Ret.), an inactive Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon.

ulpdx-2018-01The event comprised of traditional African drumming, music from local artists, and presentations from local leaders. It was also opportunity for the community to provide financial sponsorship at this important occasion to support the continuous efforts of the Urban League to help empower African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, health, housing, and economic stability.

ulpdx-2018-02It was a wonderful evening and the OMA looks forward to the 2019 EOD!

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The OMA and OSQA at SAA 2018

 

2018-conference-logo-2This summer the OMA and OSQA presented at the annual conference of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) held in Washington DC!

Panel: From Best Practices to “Next Practices”: Documenting Underrepresented Communities through Oral Histories

Panel Description: Panelists present information on a wide range of projects, from the Densho Project, a large community-based oral history project about Japanese American experience, to Oregon State University’s collaborative efforts to document Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities, to the Inland Northwest Black History Collection. The discussion that follows covers methods used for collection development and access, factors promoting collaboration, and ethical challenges involved in approaching and curating projects documenting underrepresented communities.

Presenters

  • Steven Bingo and Qing Meade: That’s So 20th Century: Introducing the Challenges of Legacy Oral History Projects through the Inland Northwest Black History Collection
  • Natalia Fernández: Community-Based Oral History Projects: Stories of Oregon’s LGBTQ+ and Latinx Communities
  • Geoff Froh and Caitlin Oiye Coon: Densho Oral History Collections: A Community-based Collection for the Japanese American Community

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OMA and OSQA Presentation

Community-Based Oral History Projects: Stories of Oregon’s LGBTQ+ and Latinx Communities

The Oregon State University Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives is currently engaged in two oral history projects that enable – in one case, university students and in another, community members – the opportunity to engage with their local communities through oral history projects with groups that are traditionally underrepresented within the archival record, specifically, members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as members within Oregon’s Latinx communities. The presentation describes the two projects – OSQA’s local LGBTQ+ community oral histories and the OMA’s Latinos en Oregón oral history project – and addresses the methods for collection development and promoting collaboration (including collaborating with community liaison(s), training interviewers to conduct oral history interviews, as well as celebrating the interviewees and the stories shared), providing access to the stories gathered, and the ethical challenges involved in approaching and curating projects documenting underrepresented communities.

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The Emporia State University Graduation Ceremony

 

20180812_CommencementOn Sunday August 12, 2018 the 17th Oregon MLS cohort of Emporia State University’s School of Library & Information Management (SLIM) celebrated its graduation! The graduation ceremony took place in the auditorium of Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland. Over two dozen students graduated this year, and Perri Parise, the Director of the Oregon MLS Program, could not have been prouder.

The commencement speaker was Natalia Fernandez, the Curator and Archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives at Oregon State University. Her reflections on the ceremony are on the SCARC Speaking of History blog. The student representative speaker was Lynne Stahl. Additionally, Oregon’s Interim State Librarian, Caren Agata, and OLA President, Buzzy Nielson, were also featured speakers, and SLIM’s dean, Dr. Wooseob Jeong, was the ceremony’s MC.

Fernandez spoke about how the graduates exemplify the Emporia State professional values of service, leadership, integrity, and mentorship. She expressed that as we advocate for equity and value diversity, we always have to remember it is not about our intentions, it is about the impact that we have; she encouraged graduates to always reach with one hand forward, while holding one hand back to lift others up; and she encouraged the students to remember that in their commitment to being leaders in our profession and our communities, our job is to use our positions of power to be advocates for those who lack power.

She asked the graduates to consider the question: what the values of service, mentorship, and leadership have in common? Action. Fernandez then shared her journey of activism and social justice throughout her career thus far, and reflected on words of wisdom expressed in a 2010 lecture by the archivist Randall Jimerson entitled “Archivists and the Call of Justice.” She stated that in the journey toward social justice, as information professionals, we each have a role to play as part of the work that we do. One of the many beautiful aspects of our profession is that activism can take many forms.

She closed by stating that it is incumbent upon all of us as information professionals to reflect upon our role and ask ourselves how we can be more pro-active to the cause of social justice as we serve, lead, and mentor others. When we fully commit ourselves to our professional values is when we can truly say that we are employing our power as information professionals, our expertise, and the love we have for our communities as we strive to promote a better society for all.

Excitingly, the 17th Oregon MLS cohort of Emporia State University’s School of Library & Information Management (SLIM) graduates are ready to take action – to serve, lead, and mentor – they are fellow activists!

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LGBTQ+ History in OSU’s The Barometer

April 4, 1991 Letter to the Editor in the OSU Daily Barometer

April 4, 1991 Letter to the Editor in the OSU Daily Barometer

Pride Month is a time to celebrate who we are and the people we love, but it is also a time to reflect on where we have been and where we want to go. Remembering our histories is one of the most important parts of building the future we imagine for ourselves and our loved ones. Here at the Oregon State University Queer Archives (OSQA), we have been working to document the histories of queerness at OSU, in Corvallis, and throughout all of Oregon in relation to the university. In the last few academic years, OSQA has grown into a wonderful resource for anyone looking to build their knowledge about queer history, and we invite you to come visit us.

Our most recent project involved scouring The Daily Barometer for anything related to queer history throughout the 1990s. The 1990s were a difficult time for queer folks in Oregon. The Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA) fought to pass several homophobic, queerphobic, and transphobic ballot measures. They won some battles, especially in the rural parts of Oregon, but thanks to the efforts of dedicated community members, such as the people involved in the organization After 8, the OCA was unable to accomplish many of their hateful goals. However, even as Oregonians successfully repelled the OCA, homophobia and queerphobia raged on in our communities and on our campus. The letters section of The Daily Barometer became a well-worn battleground where proponents of equality faced off against their adversaries. For example, one letter writer went so far as to suggest that OSU needed to abandon Benny the Beaver because he was attracting attention from the Lesbian Avengers, an activist group working against hatred and discrimination. But there were others who were incredibly brave and wrote to the editor in defense and support of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Daily Barometer reported on these and a variety of topics, and in the spring of 2018, OSQA’s student worker reviewed the 1990s Barometer articles and selected the ones most relevant for the creation of the LGBTQ+ History in OSU’s The Barometer collection. Below are PDFs of the articles, organized by year, with a table of contents for each set of articles. If you desire to see a physical copy, the newspaper is available in printed and bound copies, as well as on microfilm.

LGBTQ+ History, 1990

LGBTQ+ History, 1991

LGBTQ+ History, 1992

LGBTQ+ History, 1993

LGBTQ+ History, 1994

LGBTQ+ History, 1995

LGBTQ+ History, 1996

LGBTQ+ History, 1997

LGBTQ+ History, 1998

LGBTQ+ History, 1999

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DPD Program 25th Anniversary Celebration

 

DPD-anniversaryThe OMA was honored to participate as part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination (DPD) Program.

The DPD Program works with faculty across all fields and disciplines at Oregon State University to develop inclusive curricula that address institutionalized systems of power, privilege, and inequity in the United States. And the DPD archival collection is a part of the OMA! Difference, Power, and Discrimination Program Records, 1970-2011

At the anniversary event, the DPD was celebrated, awardees were honored, and acclaimed researcher/author Tricia Rose gave a riveting speech.

event-programThe awards included two teaching for change awards for Professors Quo-Li Driskill and Professor Steven Shay, as well as a legacy award for Annie Popking, the first DPD director, 1992-1994. In addition, all of the directors present at the celebration were honored.

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The OMA’s role was to give remarks about the Coalition of Student Leaders, as well as give a brief history on OSU’s student activism and its significance. And, to give a legacy award to the Coalition of Student Leaders. Below are the remarks:

“The second 25th Anniversary Legacy Award goes to the Coalition of Concerned Student Leaders. I am so honored that Nana invited me here this evening to talk about the Coalition of Concerned Student Leaders, as well as the historical significance and impact of student activism here at Oregon State University.

The opening line to the 1990 Letter from Concerned Student Leaders: (A) Proposal to Confront Campus-Wide Discrimination was “As increased reports of discrimination and harassment begin to surface within our campus community, we a group of concerned student leaders, have assembled and developed a plan of action.” The proposal, which the students addressed directly to the university president, specifically called out the need to educate students and faculty on the value of culture and diversity. It is thanks to their voices that the Faculty Senate created the “Affirming Diversity Committee” so that today we celebrate the 25th year since the establishment of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination program.

The efforts of the Concerned Student Leaders were not the first, nor would they be the last time that OSU students used their collective voice to demand change. It is in large part due to the power of student activism that OSU continues making strides in its journey towards becoming a socially just institution and community.

Students, especially students of color, working with the support of allies, have a long history of recognizing their power and wielding it to shed light on invisible injustices and to create change benefitting the entire OSU community.

For example, in early 1969, the OSU Black Student Union called on the administration to increase the university’s efforts to support black student recruitment, retention, and success. Due to what the BSU deemed an insufficient administrative response, not only to their proposal but also to the way in which the rights of a black student athlete were violated, over the next few months, the BSU led boycotts, protests, and printed an underground newspaper to call attention to and gain support for their cause. The power of the BSU’s efforts led directly to the establishment of the Educational Opportunities Program that same year, as well as sparked the activism that led to the establishment of a number of cultural centers during the 1970s.

Since the 1970s, there have been a number of student led movements including, but by no means limited to, anti-apartheid protests in the early 1980s, a mass boycott and march in 1996 due to multiple racist acts, a mid-2000s initiative to give honorary degrees to the Japanese American students forced to leave their studies during World War II, a Solidarity March in 2014, as well as community dialogues inspired by the national Black Lives Matter movement.

More recently, almost 25 years to the date of the 1990 Concerned Student Leaders proposal, students organized and led the “Students of Color Speak Out” in 2015. At the “Speak Out” members of OSU’s students of color communities again called on the university to prioritize their safety and well-being, as well as the need for OSU community members to engage in identity and social justice trainings. Yet again, we see the demand and necessity of community education as part of the march towards social justice.

There are these and many more stories to share. As an archivist, I have the privilege to preserve and make these stories accessible to the public so that others can learn from them and be inspired by them. While on the one hand, it is discouraging to see that for almost 50 years students have had to protest the same issues, fight the same injustices, and call to action for the same causes, it also gives me hope. Each new generation of students challenges OSU, as an institution and as a community, to reflect and grow and be held accountable when it fails to live up to its professed mission and values. Each new generation of students find their voices, speak their truths, and make sacrifices now to cause ripple effects into the future positively impacting the next generation of students.

The Concerned of Student Leaders concluded their 1990 proposal with the statement, “We have taken valuable time away from our studies to address an issue that should have been addressed some time ago…this is a serious matter; literally lives depend upon it.” I believe that those students would be proud that we are gathered here today to celebrate such an incredible program that has enriched the lives of so many faculty, staff, and students. The students who wrote the 1990 proposal did not sign their names; instead, it was a united group that spoke on behalf of the many who perhaps felt voiceless and powerless. But while they are nameless, they are by no means forgotten. Their impact has been and will continue to be profound. This award will sit in the DPD office as a reminder of the role that students played in creating the program and the power of student activism. As we recognize these student leaders today, let their efforts serve as a reminder, inspiration, and celebration of the way in which our students challenge us to be better and do better as individuals and as an institution. Thank you to the Coalition of Concerned Student Leaders, as well as all of our amazing student activists – past, present, and future.”

~ Natalia Fernández

For more information about the history of student activism at OSU, be sure to check out the “Untold Stories” campus tour guidebook website

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student-awardBelow is the 4 page proposal the Coalition of Concerned Student Leaders wrote:

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The OMA at NWA 2018

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The OMA attended, and presented, at this year’s Northwest Archivists conference in Warm Springs, Oregon. The presentation “Campus Connections to White Supremacy: The Role of Archivists in Reconciliation through Community Engagement and Historical Research” focused on the Fall 2017 OSU Building and Place Names Evaluation Process.

Presentation Abstract: In recent years, more and more communities, including colleges and universities, across the United States are challenging the existence of memorials and place names associated with the confederacy and white supremacy. Archivists and special collections librarians are often called upon to provide historical context, and have the opportunity to engage their communities in productive and transformative discourses. In addition to an overview of campuses across the United States engaging their communities in efforts to reconcile current values of inclusion and diversity with their racist histories, as a case study, attendees will learn about the Building and Places Names Evaluation process at Oregon State University. Attendees will be able to adapt the information learned, including elements of the process such as developing evaluation criteria, providing historical research assistance, designing and implementing a community engagement plan, and planning for permanent education accessible to community members, to achieve successful collaborations within their own communities.

Link to the Presentation: “Campus Connections to White Supremacy: The Role of Archivists in Reconciliation through Community Engagement and Historical Research”

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