Week 08 – Lab + Reading Reflection

1b Scheduled Interview

Ron Lewis (Class of 2017, Finance) — former Student Body President at UIUC, #BeingBlackatIllinois movement. Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, October 21 at 4 pm.

1c Survey Questions

How would you rate your familiarity and participation with social justice-based student activism movements on campus?

Choices: Poor, Below Average, Average, Above Average, Excellent

How do you think UIUC compares to its peer institutions in terms of social justice-based student activism?

Choices: Poor, Below Average, Average, Above Average, Excellent

How receptive is the University (as a system) to student activism in terms of change?

Choices: Poor, Below Average, Average, Above Average, Excellent

What do you think should be changed or implemented?

Answer: long form

Estimate the number of Black students at UIUC.

Choices of 1%, 3%, 5% (correct answer), 7%, 9%, 11%, 13%, 15%

The I-Connect Diversity and Inclusion workshop is required of all incoming freshmen and transfer students. “I-Connect Diversity & Inclusion Workshop is an experiential training designed to help incoming students embrace differences and recognize shared experiences in order to build a welcoming and engaged campus community.” How effective would you rate the workshop in providing last change?

Answers: Very ineffective, Ineffective, Neutral, Effective, Very effective

Currently, all University students are required to take both a Non-Western Cultural Studies gen-ed as well as a US Minorities gen-ed. What are your opinions on this?

Answer: long form

Have you taken a U.S. Minorities gen-ed? How useful or interesting of a class was it for you?

Answer: long form

1d Expanded Survey Distribution Leads

EWeek Newsletter

Rebecca Xun – student activist

Reading Response

What question(s) is the author looking to answer? What sorts of data/evidence (primary sources) do they use to answer those questions (i.e. how do they analyze, criticize, interpret or summarize their data)? What key figures, events, or places within or beyond the campus might they build their story around? How do you plan to use this for your project?

Throughout Catching the Spark, the authors try to answer how systemic transformation of universities can be brought about by innovations set into motion through the work of student activists and data — as illustrated the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. First, they highlight the general atmosphere and state of college campuses across the country in reference to diversity and equity before delving into the specifics of programs at the University of Illinois. The authors build their story around the Pathways to Results (PTR) Initiative, as they themselves are part of that initiative. They do this by highlighting the initial challenges and how the PTR Initiative addressed or imbued each of them into their university proceedings. I plan to use the PTR Initiative to represent a genuine interest by the University to address the concerns of student activists in moving innovations for equity to scale.

Through Housing Is An Epicenter For Change, the authors are looking to answer how University facilities and services in the form of housing can work hand-in-hand with student activism to empower Black students and other students of color. They are quick to point out how Social Justice and Leadership Education is situated in Residential Life with three full-time staff as well as other staffed groups like the Men of Impact and the Queer Housing Coalition (84). #BeingBlackatIllinois began with a single email from a sBlack student leader to university administrators as part of the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin death and subsequent tense relations at UIUC. As well, the article points out specific departments in the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations — Diversity Education and BNAACC — responding to the student activism and call to action meeting. The authors also highlight support from a Latinx student as well as a similar hashtag trending at the University of Michigan (i.e. #BBUM: Being Black at the University of Michigan). This entire article goes into showing how student activism via protests, demonstrations, and clear demands have since translated into large scale strategic work that has been institutionalized across the university.

There were a wide array of points from the Harvard survey design guidelines that could be taken, but I will particularly highlight the ones that were less-covered in my survey questions. One of them was that survey questions should be tested on an audience beforehand in order to demonstrate viability and understanding by the general public. A lot of times, the way that a question would answered in one’s head is not how it is interpreted by others so minimizing that gap is key to surveys where respondents cannot ask follow-up questions of the survey designer. From there, the survey creator should iterate and adjust the questions accordingly. Even though surveys are typically seen as simple, they can still be improved upon for clarity and achieving its purpose. As well, survey questions should provide reference frames so that participants can understand the scope of a question and what they should be evaluating since it’s generally up to interpretation. Additionally, the order of responses can influence answer choices, so for that reason, randomizing answer choices can help — depending. Context is still key as answer choices that are on a scale would make sense to be ordinal, but other question types may work in a randomized format. Finally, questions should be straightforward and non-double-barreled as participants may not agree with both statements.

Week 07 – Lab + Reading Response


Since my topic primarily focuses on student activism in more recent years, I garnered several emails from different archive staff members directing me to other more recent, online sources. Some of those sources were secondary sources, but I have some of the primary sources listed here below.

This source covers the ideas proposed by students, faculty, and staff to address systemic racism within the Grainger College of Engineering, as spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement in mid 2020. The task force came together to better inform the dean with specific implementations and goals.

“Report by the Anti-Racism Task Force to Dean Rashid Bashir, Grainger College of Engineering.” The Anti-Racist Task Force of the IDEA Institute, 14 Aug 2020, https://ws.engr.illinois.edu/sitemanager/getfile.asp?id=1594. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.

The University of Illinois System will be creating a system-wide Chicago-based academic center focused on racism, as well as providing grants, funding, lecture series, and education to address racism.

Clotter, Haydee. “U of I to launch academic center focused on racism.” Fox Illinois, 24 July 2020, https://foxillinois.com/news/local/u-of-i-to-launch-academic-center-focused-on-racism. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.

In this meeting, the Board of Trustees acknowledged that addressing systemic racism and social injustice was a priority of the University with ideas to address it including supporting faculty research in those fields as well as a series of working groups.

“Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois July 23, 2020.” The Board of Trustees, 23 July 2020, http://www.trustees.uillinois.edu/trustees/minutes/2020/July-23-2020-BOT.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.

In this report, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion highlights the departmental and institutional efforts to be more diverse in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Report 2017-2018.” The Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, 15 Nov 2018, http://www.trustees.uillinois.edu/trustees/agenda/November-15-2018/r-nov-2017-2018-Diversity-Equity-and-Inclusion-Report.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.


Describe your background and history at the University.

While at the University, what have (or did) you observe in terms of student activism?

What issues or challenges do student activists face?

How does the University react to such demands?

How do you think UIUC compares to its peer institutions in terms of social justice-based activism?

How effective do you think those methods of activism were and why?

What do you think should be changed or implemented?

What is your view of the future in terms of meaningful change by the University?

1d Identify Interviewees & Survey Distribution Leads

Interview: Obiamaka Onwuta, former #BeingBlackatIllinois member

Ronald Bailey, professor in African American Studies

Kendall Hester, Blacks and African Americans in Computing member

Anisha Narain, student activist

Ross Wantland, director of diversity and social justice education at the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations

Dr. Yun Shi, director of International Education

Reading Response

PLATO was instrumental in distance learning applications as well as beyond as a two-communication system. Using PLATO in order to conduct research via survey distribution was very highly well-received with over 90% of survey respondents saying that they wanted to see more issues discussed on PLATO (Lamont 21). It was also outlined for usage as part of Delphi-like conferences or to develop strategies based on information from the community (Lamont 32). The Notes section of PLATO became message forums that anyone could post to, with its public, collaborative, group messaging environment that pathed the path for email later on (Dear). Communication-wise, PLATO had had emoticons since 1976, which was several years before ASCII emoticons were even developed (Dear). As well, PLATO was instrumental in pioneering education for blind students by acting as an instructor, tool for instructors, or tool to print instruction materials (Weber 20).

There a multitude of differences between PLATO and current distance-based learning platforms like Khan Academy, Coursera, and YouTube. For the former two, their value is prided on showing examples to users and letting users apply their skills to new problems. In that way, it also caters question sets and points to their user base so that they can focus their efforts on learning their weaker skills. This generally is a more recent invention I’d say due to the rise of technology and consolidated efforts into the user experience. As well, the hardware + software aspect of PLATO made it difficult to use and inaccessible for many. While arguably still inaccessible to the majority of the global population, online-based learning formats nowadays can be used by anyone with a phone, tablet, or computer with an internet connection, which now applies to vastly more people.

Week 06 – Lab + Reading Response

1b) Lab Assignment: Project Development

In order to explore the question of the effect of student activism on the University, I need to also cover the effect that activism had on non-University departments. This resource helps highlight the effect that it had on pressuring large entities like Facebook to take down hurtful pages.

In order to answer my question of the effect of student activism on the University, I need to learn more about what student activists have been doing. This resource helps explore the public pressures and demands of these student groups.

Housing Is An Epicenter For Change: A Narrative of Students and Staff Championing Campus Social Change Movements by Kimberly Otchere, Tekita Bankhead, Ayanna Williams.

In order to answer the question of the results of student activism in changing UIUC, I need to find out more about large-scale student activist efforts and their effects on specific aspects of the University. This resource helps explore the relationship between Black students on campus in the mid 2010s and the results of their activism on housing at UIUC.

Catching the Spark: Student Activism and Student Data as a Catalyst for Systemic Transformation by Debra Bragg, Heather McCambly, Brian Durham.

In order to answer the question of the results of student activism in changing UIUC, I need to find out more about student activism and its relationships with other entities. This resource helps explore the role of student activism and data as catalysts for change.

In one more paragraph, begin to sketch out what other resources, documents, or interviews with
living or past individuals would help you to flesh out the research you hope to complete.
Consider the “so what” question: why would your research findings be relevant to campus or
community leaders today?

I want to look into other resources covering the anti-Black rhetoric and backlash online and in person, perhaps in response to their protests and demands. There seems to be an increase in the usage of technology, so I think that could be an interesting aspect to consider. As well, I would want to talk to individuals involved with these efforts (e.g. townhalls, protests) and talk to them about how successful they believe these efforts are. In terms of interviewing or surveying current University students, I would be curious to find out if current students know about these movements or even acknowledge its effects which have since changed their University experience. These findings would be relevant to campus leaders today, because some of the changes that were brought about due to student activism can still be adjusted, reformed, or improved — especially if they are not accomplishing their intended purpose.

1c) Drafting Interview & Survey Questions

What percentage of undergrad students at UIUC do you think are Black?

Do you remember I-Connect? What’s your opinion on it?

All University students are required to take both a Non-Western Cultural Studies gen-ed as well as a US Minorities gen-ed. What are your opinions on this? Why do you think they are both required?

Have you taken a U.S. Minorities gen-ed? How useful or interesting of a class was it for you?

Reading Response

In order to develop cybernetics practice, Heinz von Foerster and other members of the Biological Computing Lab got talented at accruing military funding for their research; however, that ultimate backfired on them during the anti-war movement of the ’70s. As part of cybernetics heuristics, von Foerster also emphasized the drastic need for looking at things from the eyes of the organism, not the observer. This went hand-in-hand with the idea of cybernetics being a more alternative take to view biological systems with the acknowledgement of the system of the system. Another strategy that von Foerster used was to teach several LAS 199 interdisciplinary seminars. Through classes such as these, von Foerster was able to to establish cybernetics as a field in many student’s minds as opportunities to explore.

Though the female-sounding name of Valerie Lamont was mentioned, what percentage of those affiliated with BCL at the student and then the staff/faculty levels were there (Prutzer)?

Since the BCL was quite influential yet largely lacks recognition nowadays, in terms of scope and impact on undergraduate students, what’s the modern equivalent to BCL today (Hutchinson)?

As a German/non-American, did Heinz von Foerster ever face any tension or difficulty as a researcher/director of the BCL due to his background (Anderson)?

Though funding for cybernetics eventually dissolved and got funneled into fields like Computer Science, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence, would there be modern-day value in investing back into cybernetics (Anderson)?

Week 05 – Lab + Reading Reflection


Are there any modern/more recent archives or resources that cover student activism at the University of Illinois?

How might I go about finding more recent information about student activism?

I would want to look at any sections covering the history of student life, especially as it pertains to “political,” “social,” “activism,” “police,” “anti-Black,” and “civil unrest.” For a topic like mine which covers modern student activism, the terminology of “defund the police” may be more recent, but the idea of discontent with an authority like the police has been around for decades. It just may be more difficult to find records covering it.


Chronology of Campus Protests is useful in understanding the campus and community events from 1948 through 1972 in a wide array of student activism causes such as free speech, political protests, civil rights and anti Vietnam war demonstrations, and community, union, and voting initiatives. 

Looking at a document like this highlights the anti-Black backlash by fellow students on campus in more recent years.

Along with the last example, a Facebook group such as this is targeted against Blacks, Muslims, and Mexicans in an inflammatory way.

Discourse about the university and their values in a progressive and critical manner, as targeted to people of color, showcases the activism and higher philosophy of students in regard to race, class accessibility, and transformation.

Reading Response

In Andrew Yang’s book, The War on Normal People, he illustrates the dichotomy between the privileges of the many well-educated and affluent individuals who may be reading his book and the “normal people,” or statistically-typical person of the United States. He does this to highlight the conclusion that many statistics out there do little to cover the massive effect that automation is and will be bringing to the job economy, and while many Americans will be affected by it, it will especially affect the less-skilled and less-educated masses. 

Throughout the few chapters we read, Yang used data and statistics to back up his arguments concerning the dichotomy between those would likely be reading his book and the actual normal American. He points out that “what feels normal to each of us is based on our context,” and he further illuminates that if you had five best friends, “The odds of them all being college graduates if you took a random sampling of Americans would be about one-third of 1 percent, or 0.0036.” Through a very strong and illuminating statistic such as this, he showcases to his likely college-educated population that going to college and being surrounded by only those who have gone to college is a very atypical experience in the grand scheme of America. However, this data is likely manipulated in that those who have gone to college, which he states is about a third of Americans, are likely to be surrounded mostly be those who have gone to college — thus, choosing a random American and then giving them five random Americans to be their best friends skews in showing how atypical that experience is.

Another thing that Yang does throughout his book is bring up common rhetoric and rebuttals to the idea that automation is negatively affecting jobs. He responds to this one op-ed that highlights alternatives for those who have had their job displaced by saying that the options highlighted — Etsy and Upwork — largely are unsustainable for those who have those jobs and may not cater to the skills of the displaced workers. He points out that for platforms such as Etsy, it on average “contributes only 13 percent to household income and is intended as a supplement to traditional work” (Yang Chapter 4). This statistic is not specifically rigorous in showcasing how many Etsy sellers do it full-time — or would want to do it full-time but can’t due to its low profits — and the income that generates, and instead it disregards the relatively low statistic of 13% to be indicative of its unsustainability as a career. In this case as well, his point is likely valid, but he intentionally skews his data to more strongly favor his idea.

Additionally, Yang is careful to point out flaws in current statistics or common measures of success. For example, he brings up how the unemployment metric “does not consider people who drop out of the workforce for any reason, including disability or simply giving up trying to find a job” (Yang Chapter 8). In doing so, he can showcase how metrics and statistics, such as his own, can be deceiving. There needs to be more rigorous surveying and compartmentalization when it comes to making statistics more useful.

Week 04 – Lab + Reading Response

  1. The Latinx Resilience Network is a mental health support and educational network for Latinx students at the University of Illinois. It educates students and faculty about mental health awareness and resources, trains students to be peer coordinators and listeners, and fosters Latinx success on campus. This happens through a Latinx Resilience Certificate Workshops or through taking LLS 396: Latinx Mental Health Topics. The network itself officially began in Spring 2014 after more than a year of discussions, and it was created with the support of Veronica M. Kann (Assistant Director of La Casa Cultural Latina) and Alicia P. Rodriguez (Associate Director of the Department of Latina/Latino Studies), along with support from a Strategic Initiative Grant from Student Affairs.
  2. In order to get institutional support, the program founders had to prove that there was a pressing need for Latinx students specifically to receive and give mental health support through a program such as this and that students would likely support it if it were to exist. It rose through the identification, likely through interviews and surveys, that many Latinx students face additional challenges and stress before and when going to college through the increased pressure of more responsibilities, such as translation and paying the bills, or of coming from cultures that stigmatized mental health and underserved schools that could not support them. Through historical documents, it can be seen that UIUC remains a predominantly white institution, and many URM feel pressure that they were only accepted out of “affirmative action,” while remaining perfectly capable as is. 
  3. Research: 
    1. Archives: Document that shows that Latinx historically have tended to come from underserved schools that did not have the resources to teach them how to identify such challenges and that their cultures tend to stigmatize it. Document that shows the relationship between mental health resources and the affluence of a school. 
    2. Interviews: Talk to Latinx students about mental health and its position or disregard in Latinx culture. Talk about the struggles and familial pressures they had growing up and in culture and how they tried to address them.
      1. What is your experience with mental health challenges?
      2. How do your family and culture view mental health?
      3. Who do you go to for help?
    3. Survey Design:
      1. What percentage of students at the University of Illinois identify as Latinx?
        1. 2.4%
        2. 4.5%
        3. 6.3%
        4. 8.1%
        5. 9.3%
        6. 11.5%
        7. 13.2%
      2. Do you receive mental health services from a campus resource?
        1. Yes, I receive help from The Counseling Center.
        2. Yes, I receive help from McKinley Health Center.
        3. Yes, I receive help from DRES.
        4. Yes, I receive help from some combination of the above.
        5. No, I used to receive help from one of those resources, but I no longer continue to do so.
        6. No, I receive off-campus help.
        7. No, I do not receive mental health services.
      3. Do you think the University of Illinois should support a mental health support and educational network for Latinx students at the University of Illinois?
        1. Strongly disagree
        2. Partially disagree
        3. Slightly disagree
        4. Neutral
        5. Slightly favor
        6. Partially favor
        7. Strongly favor
  4. This program has likely faced challenges in funding, because naturally many mental health resources and programs for minority students lack funding. They would also have to prove that this program warrants a unique enough cause and situation so that it would not be a part of a broader university effort rather than be Latinx focused. It does not indicate anyone being opposed to it, but definitely student and faculty support and awareness throughout the years is necessary so that it remains warranted and funded. It also tip-toes around other on-campus mental health resources, so faculty and students had to prove that those were not enough to address mental health among Latinx students.
  5. The other needs that are unaddressed is that the program innately puts a lot of pressure onto Latinx students to seek out and become the peer mental health facilitators and listeners for their friends. This may be favorable, because a lot of times, people choose to turn to their friends at odd hours of the day or simply trust their friends more. However, this largely ignores the fact that the University generally does not support any of their students enough, Latinx or not, through current mental health resources, and the program seems to be the impetus on students to be the change when a lot of times, their peers even through certificate workshops and taking a class may not know enough as a trained and devoted mental health professional. Especially on Latinx students, the program may be used as justification that Latinx students are receiving enough help when it also puts the burden on students to take their workshops and classes even if they may not have time to do so. In general, providing grander mental health resources and support for all of campus through trained and full-time professionals would probably do the most help, though that takes a lot of funding that the University is not ready to address.

Reading Response

Throughout the 1960s and especially in its latter half, there were a series of social movements occurring throughout the United States and world. At UIUC itself, a lot of student activism support was present in The Daily Illini publications, as it sought to popularize and normalize such movements. The formation of key clubs such as the Dubois Club, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee all trumpeted and pressed for reform and change. As well, the campus president at the time, while initially dismissive, would meet with the faculty senate in order to finally recognize the DuBois Club (Metz 78). Internationally, men and women independently tried to overcome the barrier of societal’s norms for gender expression as it relates to power. While many men challenged patriarchal power, women challenged the patriarchy and gender hierarchy itself (Evans 338). Politically, many Americans were scared of the threat of communism and socialism, which is why they were ardently opposed to the W.E.B. DuBois Club as its namesake was well-known as a Stalinist communist (Metz 39). Finally, barriers concerning free speech at UIUC, especially as it related to the Clabaugh Act which prevented UIUC officials rom extending university facilities to organizations deemed subversive or un-American, proved to be major contesting points for students.

  1. How do you feel the University of Illinois compares to other campuses in terms of student activism in the 1960s and also now?
  2. By learning more about the history of a time you lived through, how does that change or validate how you felt during those events?
  3. To what extent do you think these movements were intersectional and inclusive of various backgrounds and identities?
  4. Do you think the student movements were successful at UIUC? How do you think they could have been more successful?
  5. What do you think was the most successful or influential student group at UIUC and why?

Week 03 – Lab + Reading Response


Over the course of over 70 years, the history of the University of Illinois has been marked by many “firsts” in the field of education and accommodations for those with disabilities. Originally, disability accommodations at the University were formed to serve those with physical disabilities due to war injuries, but they have since grown to include those with congenital physical disabilities as well as psychiatric disabilities and everything in between. Today, it is evident through the physical building of the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) division that it was built with the needs of those with physical mobility issues in mind; the DRES building is one story tall and has elevators with touch-pads to motion up or down located just above the ground. Even though the University and State of Illinois were initially against the public funding of DRES, having a physical building for their division has since created a safe environment for students with disabilities to access needed resources. Additionally, students with disabilities needed more accessible housing and around-the-clock care, and Beckwith Hall opened in 1981 as part of DRES. In 2010, Beckwith Residential Support Services relocated to the newly constructed Nugent Hall, as a part of housing now–thus increasing visibility to the rest of campus and access to the Ikenberry housing resources as well.

Students with wheelchairs in front of Beckwith Hall, 1982.

Nowadays, DRES offers a wide array of services, which we learned about from Maureen Gilbert, DRES’ Campus Life Coordinator. DRES Students have access to exclusive social workers, psychologists, career services, note-taking services, and proctored testing facilities in order to ensure they can get the support to succeed inside of the classroom and beyond it. As Maureen said, for example, it is especially crucial nowadays for DRES students to get note-taking services, because the virtual format of most classes nowadays has caused added stress to education for many students. At the same time, the building itself highlights the accomplishments and stories of many current and former DRES students from their student life experiences studying abroad or having romantic relationships to their career achievements after college. These experiences do not come easy, but accommodations, such as having the first wheelchair power lifts on buses, have helped DRES students experience UIUC campus life to its fullest. As Maureen pointed out, the MTD does indeed have wheelchair accessibility, but DRES continuing to have charter busses for their students is beneficial to help them get around during busy times between classes. It can be hard enough for any student in general to get a spot on a crowded bus, but for DRES students, it is naturally even harder. Maureen also highlighted the story of a former student with autism majoring in CS + Linguistics whose dream was to work for Microsoft, and eventually with the help of DRES career services and a corporate partnership with Microsoft, he was able to do so. Additionally, with Microsoft and other tech companies, DRES is working to help pioneer the field of web content accessibility for those with disabilities.

Wheelchair power-lift on bus, date unknown.

In terms of athletics, DRES supports dozens of paralympic and international athletes, especially in the sports of wheelchair racing and wheelchair basketball. Partnerships with the athletic department, for example, let athletes race and practice in the same spaces and alongside non-wheelchair athletes. This increased visibility and normalization was also seen in the Olympics in the 1990s where wheelchair racing was featured as a sport in order to increase popularity and awareness of wheelchair sports in the international arena. At the same time, members of DRES work alongside researchers and athletic companies to innovate technologies and tools to make athletes faster — including 3D printing for wheelchair racing gloves. Not only do these gloves go toward their students but they also go toward young athletes interested in participating in sports like their peers.

Timeline from 1988-2008 of highlighted UIUC Paralympic-medalling athletes.

As DRES grows in reach and magnitude at the University of Illinois, it meets challenges in funding and general accessibility practices. DRES itself hopes to expand its sports facilities, but their proposed new athletic facility will cost an estimated $245 million and has no current funding pipeline. While the University has publicly acknowledged said development, it remains a pipe dream for now. As well, while the ADA is celebrating its 30th anniversary, there are still a lot of architectural advancements, such as the elevator button that DRES features, that would make the lives of those with physical disabilities easier, but they are yet to be mandated across the board. Additionally, web content accessibility remains a large pain point but many websites remain not fully accessible to those with vision impairments or screen readers. In challenges such as these, DRES’ partnerships with policy-makers, donors, and corporate sponsors proves crucial in making changes benefitting accessibility beyond just the UIUC campus.

Reading Response

In general, I think that these authors would agree that these innovations furthered inclusion and diversity on campuses. Through the creation of cultural houses on Nevada Street, the University leaned into the demands of various ethnic groups’ need to have visibility and learn about their culture (Hoxie and Hughes 219). These buildings provided safe spaces and personalized programming for minority groups, and in doing so, generations of minority students have felt supported while on campus — as merely accepting is not enough to do justice. For Black students specifically, the advent of the Afro-American Cultural Center in 1969 provided workshops on writing, dance, and gender roles among other topics (Williamson 82). By being able to participate in African American culture and heritage, Black students specifically could feel supported and have a sense of community with their Black peers. Through the creation of the Special Educational Opportunities Program, the University sought to aggressively increase enrollment of disadvantaged students, especially Blacks, to the ballpark of 500 students (Williamson 57). This program ultimately resulted in an increased socioeconomically and racially diverse student body, but there were many hurdles including acceptance and retention. All in all, the effects of these strategies lives on today, but there is still a long way to go in terms of racial justice on campus. The University under-accepts Black students, relative to the population of Illinois, across the board but especially in the high-paying fields of engineering. As well, departments and divisions supporting minority students are not funded at the same levels of certain colleges, such as Engineering or Business.

Week 02 – Lab + Reading Response

Question: What do students do for fun outside of school and how has that changed over time?

Line of Inquiry: I would need to learn about the different types of extracurricular activities at the University of Illinois and what they each entail. As well, I would need to understand how previous definitions of these activities may compare or contrast from how they are now. If possible, learning the origins of each activity would be relevant as well. In the end, this could showcase the evolution of interests over time or reveal commonalities despite the changing times.

According to the video “Star Course | Music in the Air,” Star Course was a student organization formed to be a “speaker series styled after the ‘Star Course’ literary circuit of Boston” (0:22-0:27). Then, “by the mid-20th century, the organization was an active force in bringing the heat of its generation to student audiences” (1:22-1:28) and is now the “oldest student-run organization at Illinois” (0:29-0:32). I chose to highlight this, because it showcases how despite changes in taste and preference, the Star Course student-run music production continues in popularity. Video: https://youtu.be/eXCP1CR5tfA

According to the video “1868-1919 | How Do Students Live Here?”, the University officially embraced the Greek System starting in 1891 and “Greek houses began appearing on campus in the early 1900s, providing living quarters and instant companionship for students seeking new friends in a new environment” (1:46-2:03). This reveals that the origin of Greek Life was to meet the basic needs of housing and companionship for its members. Video: https://youtu.be/jQZAqPJJhk0

According to the video “1941-1966 | How Do Students Live Here?”, “One student could offer wisdom beyond her years: ‘Pretty much everyone will say that the dorm they lived in their freshman year is the best one on campus!’” (2:07-2:16). This perspective reveals that many people at the time based their identity and social life on their dormitory, and thus, they felt a lot of pride attached to their chosen residence hall. Video: https://youtu.be/AY879GDcptk

According to the “Fraternity and Sorority Tour: 1912-1913,” many former fraternity and sorority houses encompassed space along Green Street. This is a lot different from nowadays, because those houses no longer occupy Green Street, and the area nowadays is largely seen as a commercial area for recreation, food, and drink.


From the tour and data, I learned that student life at the University was largely attributed to and dictated by housing choice. This can be inferred from the rise of the Greek System as one of the reliable sources of housing before public housing (for males) was offered by the University, as well as the general feeling of pride for one’s residence hall. Nowadays, such pride for one’s dorm is not as prevalent—likely due to the rise of technology making communication and coordination among students living in different places more seamless. A few texts and a bus ride later, people could be having lunch with their friends all across campus. The identity and social circles of a student is not bound by their dorm and its physical confines but rather the course schedules and bus timesheets. Additionally, the Greek System has likely risen in popularity in terms of a student’s identity with a series of traditions and standards one must meet in order to get a bid, which is a far cry from its original goal of meeting housing and companionship needs. The identity and social life of a person can indeed be outlined by their fraternity or sorority in today’s time. At the same time, student organizations like Star Course, which itself hosts music productions, have remained largely the same in mission despite the decades since but its execution in terms of music genre of course differs from reggae to rap to rock depending on the time. 

My analysis is definitely incomplete, and my perhaps deficient analysis is largely influenced by the finite source material of the digital exhibits and historic maps. At the same time, I have to consider how the objective of the videos I used as evidence was to highlight the change in housing over time in an energetic manner, and I largely had to extrapolate my findings and apply my current perception of student life in order to deduce social change on campus. Whether I myself am that comprehensive of a source on student life remains to be considered, but it definitely leads to a weak answer to my question. There is a lot of further research I could do involving Greek Life specifically, the evolution of Green Street, the growth of RSOs, and the effects of technology on social life—even then, these are only a few ideas. There are a lot of additional questions I have as well: how did the balances of certain student persona types’ average daily time spent doing activities (e.g. studying, RSOs, Greek Life) change over the decades? How was this influenced by race and gender? What was the perception among students of other students (e.g. stereotyping)? The intersection of these topics surrounding social life is where a lot of my questions rest.

Reading Response

In order to demonstrate the ability and worth of the DRES community, Tim Nugent relied on several uncommon strategies in order to prove to an audience that believed them to be incompetent and worthless to the University community. At the start of 1949, the initial 14 paraplegics admitted to the University were explained in The Daily Illini “individually, by name, age, major, and reason for the paralysis that ‘forced [them] to use wheelchairs'” (Reagan 52). It’s clear then, that this dehumanization and objectification was not being cast on others but merely students with disabilities as it was viewed acceptable to openly discuss their bodies rather than afford them privacy. Nugent continued to lobby against these injustices–including how the change to wheelchair-accessible sidewalk curb cuts was not being done quickly enough so “Nugent and a group of students then went out late one night and broke curbs with sledgehammers, forcing the university to ‘repair’ them with curb cuts” (Reagan 54). This sort of renegade thinking and action allowed for the increased accessibility of sidewalks as the University did not feel compelled to update them for wheelchair access unless they already had to update them due to a general need for repair. At the same time, Nugent’s standard for new buildings to be built with wheelchair users in mind in 1953 was already 15 years before the federal Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and was the first of its kind on college campuses (Brown 173). While the University may seem somewhat slow and unprogressive in addressing the needs of students with disabilities, it was in reality lightyears ahead of its peers and competitors in doing so. Nugent’s work a long way in dismantling the current status quo of the time where those with disabilities were not expected to go to University, nonetheless participate in recreational activities like sports (“Expanding Horizons” 3). In that light, his work did a lot to illuminate DRES students in their own terms and allow them to do a lot of things that they previously could not, such as participate in education at a large university and do sports.

Annotated Bibliography

Brown, Steven E. “Breaking Barriers: The Pioneering Disability Students Services Program at the University of Illinois: 1948-1960.” Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Author Steven E. Brown demonstrates and explains the disability programs of the University that have made the University of Illinois one of the initial universities that was largely accessible for those with disabilities. The text is definitely lengthy and intended for academics to cite for their scholarly works. While this chapter is only one that focuses on the University of Illinois, other chapters likely did not focus on the U of I and instead focus on other topics.

Commemorative Book Preparation and Publication Committee. “Expanding Horizons: A History of the First 50 Years of the Division of Rehabilitation-Education Services at the University of Illinois.” Roxford DT Pub., 1998.

This source covers the history and milestones of the first 50 years of the influential Division of Rehabilitation-Education Services (DRES) at the University of Illinois. Its intended audience is likely the University’s academics, DRES community, and the public, because its lighthearted language and wide usage of photos would be generally appealing and digestible for wide audiences. There is bias in this piece as it was put out by DRES itself and likely wanted to portray everything the University did as fair and favorable toward the disability community.

Evans, Sara M. “Sons, Daughters, and Patriarchy: Gender and the 1968 Generation.” American Historical Review, 2009.

Evans highlights the history of the gender movement in regards to the patriarchy as a dichotomy between men and women, especially as it related to and was seen in 1968. Her audience is likely academic as it includes extensive citations and footnotes. Her work is unique in that it focuses predominantly on gender in terms of the 1968 generation, rather than other social movements, and in its international sense.

Geiger, Roger. “The History of American Higher Education.” Princeton University Press, 2015.

Through his book, the author Roger Geiger attempts to summarize a wide array of history involving American higher education, including the effects and interpretations of the Morrill Land Grant of 1862. His extensive documentation and survey of the landscape is definitely fit for a scholar necessitating adequate citations, and this comes across in his verbose tone and comprehensive descriptions. All in all, he seeks to demonstrate how the Morrill Land Grant meant a wide range of things for private to public to midwestern to eastern universities, but nonetheless, it pushed forward the popularity of education in the United States, even if that meant succumbing to external pressures and not quite meeting its mark of an education for the masses.

Henry, David, and Springer, William. “University of Illinois Centennial.” Congressional Record, 1968.

In a speech he delivered as the President of the University of Illinois, David Henry outlines the immense scholastic and societal achievement of the university and other land-grant universities as well as its students over the past century since its founding. From there, he thanks the innovations of his predecessors while looking toward the future, emphasizing the ongoing importance of a university education, and pushing toward growth of the University in order for it to sustain these goals and promises of career preparation and democracy for Illinois and the rest of the country.

Hoxie, Frederick E., and Hughes, Michael. “Nevada Street: A Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

As Hoxie and Hughes highlight in their short article, the cultural houses on Nevada Street are living evidence of the dedication since the 1960s of student activists and faculty on the University of Illinois campus to have safe spaces and support for students of varying ethnic backgrounds. While the authors conclude that the creation of these cultural houses and their resultant programs are testimony to the power of activism and protests, there should be more research and metrics about the success and popularity of these programs in order to successfully justify if the original demands of student activists have been met.

Metz, Michael. “Radicals in the Heartland: The 1960s Student Protest Movement at the University of Illinois.” University of Illinois Press, 2019.

This source discusses the student protest and activism movements the University of Illinois during the 1960s. Michael Metz was a UIUC student during that time period, and thus, his perspective and recanting likely has influences from having lived through it as a student. His audience is likely other U of I alumni who also lived through that time period as well as academics and non-academics who are simply curious about the history of student activism at the University.

Schroeder, Paul. “Why?” The Daily Illini, 15 Mar 1968.

Paul Schroeder is a self-proclaimed disappointed student who has spent his last four years at the University of Illinois and had been chosen to deliver a speech at the Centennial Convocation. He feels that the University has failed him and his fellow students, because the education does not meet the demands of the students to push critical modern thought and support retrospection and its outlined changes. Schroeder’s call to action is one to his fellow students as well as university faculty and administrators: join together and rebuild education so that it can prepare the next generation of leaders.

Reagan, Leslie J. “Timothy Nugent: ‘Wheelchair Students’ and the Creation of the Most Accessible Campus in the World.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

This source provides an overview of the initial years of DRES and Timothy Nugent’s influential effects on the University and its disability community in making large progress toward wide-spread accessibility. At the same time, this piece likely shows bias in favor of Tim Nugent as he is largely revered by the University nowadays and this piece was printed by the University of Illinois press. Regardless, the author justifies his rationale and is able to showcase that some of Nugent’s work was met with initial criticism by those with disabilities too.

Williamson, Joy Ann. “Black Power on Campus: The University of Illinois, 1965-75.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

Through this chapter in a scholarly book, Williamson explains the history of the Special Educational Opportunities Program (SEOP), which was the University of Illinois’ proposed solution to take affirmative action in order to recruit more disadvantaged students, especially Blacks. The author highlights issues with recruitment, acceptance, and retention of these students — showcasing how it was multi-faceted challenge that required the help and acceptance of many departments and staff within the University.

Williamson, Joy Ann. “The Campaign to Diversify the University.” University of Illinois Press, 2017.

Through this look into the history of Black students at the University of Illinois, the author explains the history of Black students and student life since the early 1900s through the 1970s, while also highlighting a few modern events as well. The author does this in order to explain how Black students specifically in the 1960s and 1970s demanded changes and how that ultimately resulted in policies and initiatives that have benefited Black students and faculty since. At the same time, the author highlights certain opposition and vitriol that these groups faced in gaining acceptance.

Yang, Andrew. The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs. Hachette Books, 2018.

Throughout his book, Andrew Yang highlights the role of automation on the disappearance of jobs and the need for Americans to adapt to this. Andrew Yang is known for being a candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries and for being an executive at a test prep company as well as Venture for America, a program that gives two-year fellowships for those seeking a start-up experience. This book became the basis for his Democratic campaign and the agenda he ran on, which highlighted the need for Americans to adapt to automation, and thus, it can be said that it may be less rigorous in statistics but strong in convincing rhetoric for the general public — though likely well-educated — that may be reading it.

Week 01 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Why is the idea of Land Grant important to President Henry and the comments he
makes in his 1968 speech? What was innovative about Land Grant – what did it change?

The idea of the Morrill Land Grant of 1862 is fundamentally necessary to understand the monumental history of the University of Illinois and to see where it may grow from there. During the centennial anniversary of the Land Grant, the University of Illinois President Henry clearly illustrates how far the University has gone in increasing access and admission to higher education, contributing to academic research across a variety of disciplines, and preparing thousands of students for careers. However, he does not stop there and is quick to point out the areas and fields that the University needs work on. While the initial vision of the Land Grant was static in its emphasis on education for the agricultural laborer, its interpretation and propagation in society remains dynamic and ever-changing to the needs of the institution and its people.

Innately, the Morrill Land Grant set aside the means for the University of Illinois—Illinois Industrial University originally—to grow and to educate Illinoisans on agriculture and best labor practices. Outside of Davenport Hall even, we can read: “Industrial education prepares the way for a millennium of labor.” The ever reaches of such an act sought out to “institutionalize  practical  fields  of study, meld them with liberal education, open them to a new class of students, and charge the states with finding the means to accomplish it all” (Geiger 281). The Land Grant opened up publicly-funded institutions of higher education in a plethora of states and transformed the access to education and innovation from then on. From there, we can see how each state and people had their own autonomy to determine what this meant, but for many land-grant universities such as the University of Illinois, this meant hopefully lowering the socioeconomic barrier to access of universities and increasing its growth in order to meet demand—although there was still a long way to go (Henry 2). In this, we can see that President Henry outlines Illinois as the next beacon into the future, but in order to be that, the University necessitates growth and visionaries such as him to guide the University into the next century. Regardless, the principle remains that the Morrill Land Grant’s rationale of preparation for the common man remains but has grown to be far more than that.

By extrapolating the Land Grant’s original idea of education for the masses as a means to better equip citizens to participate in society, we can then understand its criticisms. At the same time of President Henry’s speech, there was backlash by students against the university for failing to push forth critical thought and listen to the qualms of the next generation of change-makers. Students felt simply unprepared, and as though a university education no longer had merit—it was no longer enough to simply educate students on agriculture and industry as originally poised but to equip them with the intellectual and critical thinking to solve whatever problems came toward them.  Thus, the Morrill Land Grant and its effects prove dynamic and open to interpretation. As the student Centennial Convocation speaker Paul Schroeder said, “Let us all work together not so much to liberalize the present order, as to gain our liberation from it” (1968). It is not enough for the students to be educated but for faculty and students alike to pioneer the vision of the future, be it through industry or academia.

Innovation + Space Lab

8/28/20 10:15 pm

During quarantine, I have designated this space as a location to separate myself from my home life and enter my academic and professional life. In order to fully put myself in my working mindset, there are several key elements that make up this space. First and foremost, the object that I believe best represents this space is the post-it on the entryway. I prefer to work in this space because it is relatively secluded from the rest of the house which puts a buffer between me and my family, who will often talk to me or ask favors of me, in order to make sure I can attend meetings and online classes without interruptions. I have taken to placing a post-it note on the wall to indicate to others who are sharing space with me that I cannot be interrupted at the moment. Instead of a door, this room is connected to the rest of my house via an open archway, which I did not initially register as an innovation, but it has proven to be the perfect boundary to mediate between myself and the rest of my household when I am working at home. Unlike a closed door, my family members feel like they are able to enter the space and talk to me, however in combination with the post-it note, they are able to tell when I am working on something that cannot be interrupted. 

One of the key issues during quarantine has been establishing boundaries. This includes boundaries between myself and my family and also boundaries between my workday and my downtime. This area is not particularly well lit during the evening and night time which at first I found an inconvenience, because it made it more frustrating to work late into the night. But over time I’ve started to register the change in daylight as an indication of the end of my workday and been more mindful of setting a clear end time to my workday.  The change in daylight in a way also represents a change in ownership of this space. During the day I use this space, specifically the desktop computer, to attend virtual meetings and do schoolwork, however later at night, my brother uses the desktop computer to play video games and video call with his friends.

Simply speaking, the innovations in the space are uncountable. We could simply be talking about the double-walled glass acting as insulator to the cold outdoors to the Mac desktop computer that communicates to anywhere in the world to the fluorescent lightbulb that brighten the room with a flick of a switch. While the room may seem cluttered and not specifically “modern,” the innovations it relies on are definitely modern. Even looking at something so simple as the curtains that block out light, each function and item of the room could be dissected as having had hundreds to thousands of years of science and thought put into it.

8/31/20 11:00 am

The latter post covered my home-life due to a quick visit back home, but this post will cover my new bedroom/apartment in Champaign. I have since settled in somewhat to Champaign, but the boxes and open luggage on the ground do not clearly illustrate that fact. I have had all the time in the world, and even as I spend the vast majority of the day in my room, I somehow find myself content with its clutter. The fact being that no one ever has to interface with my room except for myself, so I do not feel specifically inclined to make it presentable. Hey, if it works for me, it works, right? I sleep, work, shower, eat, etc. here.

What most annoys me though and why this space is noted alongside my quarantine home is this hole in the wall I have above my toilet. It was here when I moved in, and due to my room still remaining a mess, I have yet to call up maintenance to address it, even though the fact it exists rather bothers me. To be fair, a “hole” is not an object in a traditional sense, but its existence best represents my outlook in life, depending on how you frame it. It could be said that I am immensely lazy for allowing it to continue bother me and haunt my mind (e.g. what if the pipes burst? What if I’m breathing in asbestos? What if a spider comes out?), or it could be said that I do not shy away from adversity and am unhindered by first-world expectations. This is still a world away from the home-life and cleanliness that I observe when I visit my family in Vietnam.

What’s clear in my photos is that I let boxes and luggage pile up in my room. To be fair, I was trying to fold up those boxes, but I could find no adequate space for them. Either way, we can remark on the innovation of the modern microwave and instant pot. The microwave likely came through from research in academia on the effects of different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation–luckily, do to the Faraday cage of microwaves, we are largely unhindered by the exposure to radiation to cook our food. Likewise, the innovation and popularity of the Instant Pot pressurized cooker is quite recent, and I can recall that it was started by an engineer who invested his life’s savings into its creation. Since then, it has been the beloved household cooker of many meals. Each of these innovations ultimately save time in the kitchen. No longer does one have to wait for dozens of minutes to reheat a frozen meal or for hours to create delicious bone broth. As well, they save space and are efficient somewhat as they can be reused thousands of times.