Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tell Us Your Story

Have you ever considered what it was like to be a black man attending Dartmouth in the 1950s? Or to be a Native American leaving home for the first time to attend Dartmouth in the 1970s? Or to be an international female faculty member whose first language is not English in the 1990s? Or to be a returning veteran working or teaching at Dartmouth in the 1960s? Or to be on a journey of discovery of your sexual identity while enrolled or teaching at Dartmouth in the 1980s?

Rauner Library is looking for narratives such as these. During this month in which we honor the life and work of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Rauner Library is launching a new oral history project. It's called "Dartmouth's Community and Dartmouth's World" and its goal is to document how the Dartmouth community has been transformed over the past sixty-eight years since the end of World War Two. The lens through which we will be examining this transformation is the concept of the insider and outsider and how those roles have been altered over the years by the increasing diversity of the student body, faculty and staff, as well as the alumni body.

Here are a few paragraphs from the stories we've collected thus far:
"At Dartmouth I always associated as the outsider of the group that I was aligned with. I think it was a way of me getting attention or being noticed. I was the most conservative member of the gay students that I would hang around. I don't know if I actually ever joined the Gay Students Association officially. When I was here at Dartmouth, there was an incident I recall where the Dartmouth Review published the names of the members of the Gay Students Association. And so that terrified me, and I did not want my name on a list. So that kept me from joining. But I did find people that would accept me, but then I always chose to sort of be the odd one out. I can think of a number of instances like that." (Class of 1986)

"You know, there were times when I wanted to reach out to people outside of my social group, and I felt like they were going to - They weren't going to give me the time of day because they thought I was, you know, a rich white kid in a fraternity who played lacrosse. [Laughter] And, you know, he's a jerk, so I don't really want to talk to him." (Class of 2012)

"And I can tell you that coming from a segregated school system in the Washington, DC, area, where we weren't even allowed to go into the theaters until late in the game and then had to sit in the balcony, I didn't know what to expect [when I arrived at Dartmouth]. This was my first venture into a, quote, "white," unquote, world. And so I went with all the prejudices that one would think about. I realized somewhere in the second half of my freshman year that I was my own worst enemy from that standpoint, because I went expecting people to be prejudiced against me, and so I looked for that. And if you look for prejudice and discrimination, you'll very easily find it. And then I woke up one morning and realized, You're your own worst enemy, so why not accept people for who they are and how they treat you, as opposed to what you expect or anticipate? From that point on, I was able to adapt to the environment much better and be much more responsive to what the school had to offer." (Class of 1959)

"I think when you're unaffiliated, you either find some sort of extracurricular thing that provides a community. Or your community is just your friends. And I feel like that's - I don't feel I have a community. I just feel like... I guess in a way... I think if I had to pick something as my community, I would say it's the Women╩╝s and Gender Studies department." (Class of 2012)
Come tell us your story.
Dartmouth Class of 1947
Visit the site to read completed transcripts or to contact Mary Donin who is managing the project.

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