2-Pane Combined
Full Summaries Sorted


As I sit down to write this 'mega-blog' in Alderman Library, I cannot help but feel a sense of gratitude and satisfaction for the work that has already been accomplished in two short weeks. There are so many things that stand out to me from the readings, lectures, and discussions that I could write an entire essay on that alone. To keep the blog relatively short, and readable, however, here is my short list of things that truly stood out to me over the past few weeks.

First, it is safe to say that the first night of class as a whole was the most euphoric I had ever felt about a class. To state bluntly, I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for this class. As a first year, I was rearranging my schedule, trying my hardest to find the right balance between rigorous classes and an ample amount of down-time. It just so happens that this class met only once a week, the title of the course intrigued me, and, well... it was a media studies course. With all of that being said, the first class was kind of a shocker for me. When I saw 'The History of Uva,' I had thoughts of learning about and seeing archaic interviews, old speeches and lectures, and entertaining stories that had been kept in the basement of the University for generations. Call me naive, but that is what I went into the class thinking. When I finally deciphered through my initial thoughts and came to the realization that this was NOT what the class was going to be about, but rather, it was a class designed to analyze the history (and, in essence, be the ones making history) of Sullivan's resignation and reinstatement, Professor Heinecke's comments truly resonated with me: "This is a once in a decade, maybe even a once in a lifetime class, and you are a part of it." From that point on, I knew that I would be staying put in this class. Who could pass up on such an opportunity anyway? I felt as though I was in the 60's, as though I was an integral part of the civil rights movement. Maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, but still, I could not help but feel that I was and am part of a revolution. In addition, when discussing the first night, the length of the class must also be discussed. Certainly, two and a half hours is a very, very long time. If I was in a normal lecture-style class for that long of a duration, 'euphoric' would be the last word on my mind. Yes, the class can get a bit boring and repetitive. However, this class is different. It is a seminar, meaning everyone is involved, everyone works together, and everyone is a community. No matter how young, old, or experienced we are, all of us in this class realize the impact that we can have and work together and share ideas to further our understanding of 'The Crisis', in hopes of one day surfacing the truth of this mess composed of ambiguity and vagueness.

Just because I was excited about the class did not mean that I was up to date with the events surrounding ‘The Crisis.’ In a utopia, first years at UVa would have been greatly troubled by Sullivan’s ousting, so much so that they might even be inspired to participate and lead protests and rallies. However, I speak for myself when I say that I truly did not care. I read the email from Mr. Nash, wrote it off as another instance in which capitalism and greed got the best of the natural world, and went back to my daily schedule of playing soccer, working out, and soaking up the best summer of my life. The point I am trying to evoke is that it did not matter to me; it did not keep me up; it didn’t even make me that upset. You know how in Government class when they talk about ‘rational ignorance’? Well, I was ignorant of the surrounding events, and I was in a state of bliss, as the cliché goes. With all of that being said, I sincerely think that if I was an incoming 2 nd , 3 rd , or 4 th year at UVa, and this event occurred, my participation in ‘The Crisis’ would have been much different. As a graduating high school senior, I honestly did not feel like a part of the UVa community; I had spent one day visiting the campus and visiting classes, and other than that, that was it. Add that onto the fact that I grew up a die-hard Hokie fan, and the equation was clear: I had no fibers of Wahoo spirit within me. Now, three weeks later, I feel completely different in that respect. I feel as though I am part of a community that cares for, respects, and loves one another. Thus, when something happens to MY university, and if something like ‘The Crisis’ ever happens again at UVa, I will surely perceive the situation as my obligation to act and be proactive.

However, there are drawbacks and critiques I have to such a class as this. Writing three or four blog posts per week can just be annoying. In addition, meeting once a week is an extreme hassle for me. If the time slot were up to me, I go to this class twice a week. Certainly, much of the work can be done on your own, but in a class that stresses collaboration so greatly, one class per week simply does not seem sufficient, even if it is two and a half hours. Last, I have to question the idea of reading a book in order to learn how to properly interview/go about doing oral history. On one side, yes it is important to know and understand what you are going to do instead of walking in the room blindly; I get that. However, as Coy stated more than once, experience counts in this profession. I believe it would be much more effective if we used the book as a reference; say, for instance, we didn’t have a great first interview, or we had a question with the interview process. Then, and only then, it is our job to fix the problem, find the answer, and get better. I do not believe that reading such a book can make you a good interviewer; interviews are all about reaction, and unless you have recited the book as if it is the Quran, the knowledge will not be helpful. However, if individuals find value in the book, power be to them. I guess I am just the kind of person who feeds off the energy of individuals, class time, and presentations such as Coy… not a textbook about oral history.

Moving on to discussions/readings that have truly stood out for me, the first thing that comes to mind is the discussion/lecture with Coy. Before Coy, I was so caught up in doing my job and my job only: asking questions as an interviewer, gathering the facts, and moving on to the next interviewee. There would be no wasted time; in other words, no long and elaborate stories about personal perspectives. After we discussed in class that it is not our job or place to be storytellers, but rather, historians, this thought was reinforced. However, after reading text from Goodson and Mills, my perspective changed just a tad. They explained that oral history is so important in the larger scheme of things because it provides us with the 'how' and 'why' of an event/occurrence. Thus, the more interviews we have, the more we can find overlaps of these hows and whys, and the more we can surface the truth. Although the idea of stories and getting individuals to recount their personal accounts made more sense after reading this, I still was not convinced. My perspective changed completely, however, when Coy talked with the class about his tips, tricks, and personal experience. He reiterated to us that what we are doing is so, so important, because without us, how would future generations know how individuals felt at the time of 'The Crisis'? Boom. There it was. Without personal stories, the future generations cannot, in any way, understand the perspectives, points of view, or accounts of individuals who were participating, acting, and/or leading in the events leading up to and including 'The Crisis.' Thus, not only is it our job to be historians, put together the pieces, and fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Even more important than that, our obligation/job is to interview, as Coy would say, "as many people as possible," in order to provide future generations with inside perspectives as to the inner perspectives and opinions of individuals, who, without us, would not have a voice. That, in a nutshell, is our job: to not only provide future generations with truth and transparency, but also to provide them with perspectives of what it what like right then and there, through interviewing individuals who seemingly would not have had a voice beforehand. If we accomplish that, our goal will undoubtedly be accomplished.

Moving on, after hearing, reading, and listening to various perspectives on higher education, my hopes and fears of education, on a university level, has certainly been changed. Specifically, after reading from various perspectives and writers of UVa Magazine, I came to a pluralistic conclusion with regards to the modern idea of a Board of Visitors. This idea, albeit a complicated one, seems to still be one in which we are searching for the right answer, the right combination. In modern times, a Board of Visitors has been exemplified as a largely isolated, businesslike group of individuals who are deeply passionate about the University, but at the same time, have no face to face interaction (on a daily basis, that is) with the students who are influenced by their very decisions. Now, this is a mixed blessing. Without prior knowledge, I thought this was ridiculous; how can the hierarchy be so insulated as not to interact with students, and still think that they know what is best for the students? In addition, do they truly care for the students and University, or is that just a facade? However, after reading about seven articles from UVa Magazine, I realized that this was not as obvious as perceived. Certainly, the Board of Visitors is somewhat isolated, but what would happen if faculty made up a large portion of the Board? Would that mean that they would try to provide funding for their department, but discriminate against others? How would they mesh and coexist with each other in the first place? Do faculty even have the background necessary to run a group of leadership so important as the Board of Visitors? These are all questions to consider. The most important question, however, is asking when enough is enough. In other words, what is the boundary line for the Board of Visitors? The Board of Visitors considers it their obligation to do everything in their power to positively influence the reputation of the school, and is legally responsible for occurrences on Grounds. In addition, they are responsible for new degree programs, the tenure of professors, and new policies. With respect to curriculum and research, the Board typically gives the power to the appropriate individuals/groups affiliated with those issues. However, the issue is that the Board is becoming ever so active in these issues. Why is that? Attracting money, attaining students, and keeping consistent the reputation with which universities are maintained on involves things such as course selection and the role of technology. Like a liberal arts curriculum, the Board and separate spheres not directly affiliated with them are crossing spheres, thus causing a power struggle. Out of all the questions faced and confronted during 'The Crisis' this might be the most important one: How can universities find a right balance, or equilibrium, so to speak, between the Board of Visitors and other spheres of the university, in order to solve monetary issues, research issues, and the maintenance of a consistent and powerful reputation? More than the makeup of the Board of Visitors, this question is more vital and more noteworthy than any other. As I read more and more documents, it becomes evident that no one has the answer to these questions as of yet. However, that does not simply stop the flow of opinion or discussion. After all, the only way to alter, or seemingly fix an old, antiquated idea is to act on it, not philosophize on it.

Finally, through all of the questions, supporting works of evidence, and euphoric class discussions, I would like to briefly mention my personal hopes and aspirations for this revolution of a class. First and foremost, like all of you, I hope to uncover and discover the truth of 'The Crisis,' or at least uncover and reveal more transparency. Almost as important, though, I want this process to be engaging, and as cliché and dumb as this might sound, I want it to be fun. I want to enjoy myself every day, to discover truth as well as depth, and to discover and learn as much about myself as I do about 'The Crisis.' In addition, I would say that I am a rookie at this; certainly, I have done some interviews in high school with my journalism class, but for the most part, this type of work is virgin to me. Discussing the duality of this, I would also say that the newness of this class is also why it is so amazing and euphoric in the first place. Never have I encountered a class that so directly involves life. Not the quadratic equation, not theories and 'what if' questions. No, this class is life itself. It analyzes the workings of a revolution here at the University, plans to uncover more truth about it, all the while providing future generations and ages with various personal perspectives and stories on the issue. That is why I am so thrilled about the class. Not only is this class life in itself, but it will also directly influence the life around us, from now to twenty years in the future. What we are doing in this class has the potential to change and influence the way this school is run at this very instant. How the BOV convenes, what they discuss, how they go about ‘undisclosed business,’ and how they communicate and achieve transparency (Whether it be within the sphere of the BOV or communication between community and BOV). Simply put, the more we discover, uncover, reveal, and read as a class, the more likely the University is going to change as a result, from now until the University has run its course. The simple notion of making an impact and influencing the present, yet also generations, is what I am looking most forward to. Although other classes at this University might have to wait for their work to be reveled and significant, this class; this once-in-a-generation, revolutionary class about the future of UVa, will have repercussions from now until the end of time.

DMU Timestamp: September 14, 2012 19:31

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