The overall experience of creating this tour has been difficult at times but ultimately very rewarding. At first, this class was intimidating since it was not a traditional lecture style class but instead made each student dig into the history of black life at Kean. I ran into a few obstacles in my portion of the project, which was dorm life. My idea for the tour was to interview a former student of color about their experience at Kean, this turned out to be harder than expected. I began by going through yearbooks and identifying people of interest that I could reach out to and hopefully speak with. This then led me to the alumni office to contact these former students, which were collected from the yearbooks of 1965 through 1975. Although none of the people I identified in the yearbook and reached out to responded to my emails, I eventually got to interview a former student through the help of my classmate. The interview I did with the former student went well and gave me what i needed to make the dorm life section of the tour compelling. As stated before this class at first seemed intimidating, but it really gave me a look into the research historians often have to do and ultimately gave me a better outlook on black life at Kean Universtiy.
So far the research I have done has been somewhat discouraging. My group is in charge of finding the history about the dorms and student government. As stated by my other classmates my group as well has delegated responsibilities for each section, mine being the dorms. The first thing that came to my mind was going through the yearbooks provided to us through the archive and Kean website to see if I could find any information about the dorms through those resources, but I have yet to go through them to the extent that is needed. I started by going to the dorms and speaking with Jennifer Van Dyk who runs the dorms at Kean. I originally went to her to see if there was any sort of record of who might have been an RA or RD over the years to, which I was disappointed to find that there is no such record. The meeting was not a total disappointment as she was able to give me a list of people around campus that might be able to further help me in my research. The second person I spoke with was Stella Maher who is in charge of Alumni relations. This meeting went a little bit better as she informed me that she could put me in direct contact with former students that are apart of the Alumni Association, which gave me a brighter outlook on how this project will unfold. The next step in finding out a broader history of how the dorms were throughout the years is to dig through the yearbooks and try to get in contact with former students which I look forward to doing in the upcoming weeks.
As a class, this project will be a challenge but from this challenge will come a much needed narrative on how student life has been for Blacks throughout the history of the university we all attend. The reward at the end of this project will be showing current students and other people who are interested that Black students have and always will be a big contributing factor to life at Kean. With help from the archives this project will show the impact Black students have made at the university and continue to make.
Dorm life is one of the areas that my group will be focusing on, through research I hope to get into contact with some former students that lived on campus, possibly some Resident Advisors, to get their take on how race relations were during their time at Kean. This also goes for current students to give a broad picture of how things have changed over the years. Along with dorm life, community and social cohesion is another topic that will be explored possibly showing how the university effected the surrounding areas through the years. Lastly, student government is yet another topic for research and should be interesting to see how involved Black students were throughout the history of Kean in terms of issues addressed by the student leaders. Through research and talking with people I am excited to learn about the student aspects throughout the history of Kean, and how it relates to the Black experience at the university.