“And like I said, there were times where, you know, I was really close to the people that were protesting and doing all these things, and, you know, really getting in the face of administration, and I wanted to be that person so bad. I think I’ve always wanted to be that person. But I think I had to recognize within my journey that as I said, to the analogy, you need people in different positions for it to really work. And that was just my role. So sometimes it sucked, because I couldn’t be on the front lines. But I understood that my position was just as important in the journey to try to get what we want on campus.”
“You know, and it’s weird kind of seeing the different dynamics where a lot of people hear what I did my freshman sophomore year, and it’s like, Wow, that’s amazing. But if you’re a person of color, you’re Black, like you understand like, yes, that’s when it starts. No, that’s what it starts with freshmen and sophomore year, so then you can compete with the people that don’t have to think about it until junior and senior year because their experiences are a lot different than ours. So for me when it meant to get mentored, and what it means to mentor people is that understanding how our identity kind of goes into the professional process, organizational process, and just understanding it starts really early.”
“But if you think about it, like there are protests every year, right, people are mad at something every year. So you got to think about what separates this protest from all the other protests? … So imagine if they were responsive to every protest every year, like, how much money it would cost them? … Like this movement started before started before I even got on campus… So it’s like, you have to really realize how long the movement was right? And how this was not going away anytime soon… So I think, above else, above all else, that’s the reason why I’m in work is because we have people year after year, putting people on to the next step, putting people on to the next.”
a. Provide an example(s) of possible critiques;
There were critiques of living and learning being “divorced from each other … and that the mission of the University was not being logically extended to the residence hall environment.” From there, I can glean that education at UIUC was not seen as intimate or particularly enlightening. Students did not feel connected to each other as part of a community nor did they find their coursework specifically meaningful. They did not feel as though their education connected to each other nor real life itself.
b. Identify at least 1 challenge the program faced from its inception and discuss why this was so;
A large challenge program was that it was born out of ambiguity and lacked structure. For that reason, its educational philosophy’s goals “were never made clear enough to serve as evaluative guidelines.” From there, it was hard to describe if it was effective or not, and this also came to a head between 1974 and 1980 as there was a lot of conflict due to its unique situation in the gap between the normal institutional process and the development of educational philosophy.
c. Consider: How does the evolution of Unit One/Allen Hall make visible the vulnerabilities of innovation? Where else have we seen vulnerability in innovation this semester?
Unit One/Allen Hall makes clear that innovation is not clear nor easy. There is inevitable pushback and an evolution in offerings, while the primary mission to connect and educate students in an interdisciplinary community remains. For years, the program was under scrutiny for its efficacy and value, and it was later deemed to be successful after increased funding and reform. At the same time, these processes can be slow. We have vulnerability in innovation this semester through the creation of the cultural houses on Nevada Street. They came after a lot of student activism regarding a lack of cultural safe spaces, but even in more recent years, there was a push for a new BNAACC house. There were definitely times, too, that there was uncertainty in funding and viability of supporting and increasing the number of Black students and professors.
What is articulated in this proposal is that past efforts have been lacking and falling short. There are pressures to perform and achieve at a high level, but students are feeling disconnected from their work and education. There is a grand push for interdisciplinary collaboration as well as acknowledgement that that may include the shifting of funding. The pressures an undergraduate education may be beginning to feel is that it is not as “useful” or worth the money and time as it used to be. Thus, there is a consolidated effort into improving the undergraduate educational experience.