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Annie Gladchuk

Analytical Essay

Documenting UVa’s Future

September 19, 2012

What does this course mean to me? What a loaded question. Of course, it means earning a grade. It means learning a new skill, how to interview. It means meeting some great people with interests similar to mine. Achieving general goals like these was one of my expectations when I first came here; these are all small parts of why I picked UVa’s out of that pile of acceptance letters on decision day. I knew this environment would best foster my academic, as well as my social, life. I’ve always known this was the place for me.
In fact, after my very first month here my first year, I could already tell that I would become a superfan of the University; my room was soon covered in blue and orange, my wardrobe was covered in V-sabers, and I was encouraging all of my younger siblings’ high school friends to apply.
Similarly, after spending only one meeting with this class, I could already tell that my deep love for UVa would only grow deeper by “taking on the challenges” of gathering this oral history.

As a member of the UVa Spirit Program’s Virginia Dance Team, I’ve been surrounded by the people who would die for UVa athletics since my first year. Now, with this class, I feel like I’m truly surrounding myself with the people who would die for its academics and administration. So many participants in this class were lucky enough to be in Charlottesville during those days between the resignation and the reinstatement, and many of us were willing and able to take part in a lot of the media and events surrounding the situation. I admire so many of these participants for the roles they’ve assumed in the UVa community, and although we’re not a huge group, together we encompass so many different aspects and areas of the University.

Now, back to my area of UVa expertise, the Virginia Dance Team.   In our seven hours of practice each week, we not only dance; we spend a lot of time discussing personal conduct and how to handle uncomfortable situations in a manner that will not reflect poorly on the whole UVa program. If an opposing team’s fan yells out vulgar comments, continue to dance and keep smiling.   If our quarterback gets sacked and we know we’re going to lose, continue to cheer and keep smiling.  So, what did I do this summer when a customer in my dad’s restaurant said, “Oh you go to UVa? I’m sorry.”   I continued to pour his water and kept smiling.   I immediately felt, though, that this exchange was much harder to let go of than a bad play in a game or some drunken idiot on the hill.  I had been studying abroad in Spain for the whole month of June, so I wasn’t quite caught up with this crazy firing and reinstatement issue.   I had read the confusing emails and I had seen the varied emotional internet posts of my fellow wahoos, but this situation in the restaurant is where it first hit me that the Sullivan drama transcended the UVa community; everybody’s feelings toward our esteemed institution had changed, not just ours. Where I was used to receiving impressed “wow, good for you”s at the mention of my going to UVa, would I forever have to cover up my embarrassment with a smile? And what did I even have to be embarrassed about? I still hadn’t even developed my own feelings toward the situation.

With the discovery of this new course, I could breathe a sigh of relief; help was on the way.   By delving into the subject from all angles and perspectives, like the course description entailed, I would be able to learn what really happened and how it affected the UVa community deeper than shallow embarrassment. In our class, we have media buffs, chemistry students, athletes, club leaders, and active community members who all share a passion for UVa and, as it seems, the just treatment of our president’s position. I am starting to catch on to what each individual cares about regarding this issue, whether it’s student rights or the honor code or unity around grounds, and everyone else’s thoughts and opinions are truly helping me form and supplement my own.

This diversity will certainly continue to come in handy as we work together this semester. We’ve had two guest speakers so far, Coy Barefoot and Phyllis Leffler. What amazing individuals! Coy is so undeniably cool, with his confident demeanor and his interesting credentials (a book about our beloved Corner? He’s in). And Phyllis, while also so strong and experienced in her profession, was very endearing, expressing appreciation for the fact that I took on the challenge of this course because I’m no good at conducting interviews (yet!) . Both are individuals I am considering contacting when interviewing time is closer, because they have so much to offer a student learning how to “do” oral history.

A defining moment for me in this course was the day they came to speak to us.   I am still nervous to conduct my interviews, but as I took notes from Coy and Phyllis, I could feel my tension easing.   There was so much I didn’t know before (I hadn’t even thought about how to properly handle the tape recorder), as well as a lot that I had thought of but needed clarification on.   I actually became excited to interview as I listened to Coy and Phyllis speak.   I started to envision myself starting a casual conversation with my interviewee, creating an imaginary dialogue between us, and that is what learning is all about. I cannot express enough how exemplary this course is of my style of learning.   I am using multiple types of media to get up close to the topic at hand, and it’s calling me to action.   Not only am I intrigued by what I’m learning, I’m itching to utilize it.

Aside from the interviewing skills I’ve learned from the Ritchie readings and our guest speakers, I’m also inspired by our more analytical readings. Mills explains in detail the creation of a society and the effects a society has on its people, and vice versa.   He claims, “the very shaping of history now outpaces the ability of men to orient themselves in accordance with cherished values.” This major event in UVa history will, I believe, prove to be a huge testament to this very quote; the ouster was so sudden, as was the reinstatement, that the majority of the community didn’t even have time to figure out how they felt. By the time they were finished reading and re-reading all the literature on the ouster trying to figure out what would happen next, Sullivan was back in office. Now, immediately after the fact, it is our job in this class to record these “cherished values,” perhaps even helping others find their personal cherished values in the process. I’m excited to brainstorm interviewees and questions that will help us uncover some of the mysteries of the Teresa Sullivan ouster and reinstatement. This situation alone has already helped us discover the concepts of strength in numbers, power and responsibility, and using media outlets to call people to action. We’ve watched the community gather on the lawn in protest, and we’ve watched Greg report it all through the Cav Daily. We’ve been to the panels and lectures, we’ve heard Sullivan speak, and we’ve outlined the hard facts chronologically. Now, we will amplify the collection of media surrounding these “17 days in June” and beyond with our first-hand accounts of a variety of society members. The oral history we will collect in this class will not only get our community’s voice out there, it will help give others an understanding of the whole situation and in turn restore some of the order that was lost in the Sullivan fiasco. If I had to state it officially, I would say that is what this course means to me.  

DMU Timestamp: September 14, 2012 19:31

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