Interning at Special Collections & Archives: Project STAND and processing the Cross Cultural Center records

Submitted by quezadad on Mon, 12/10/2018 - 09:29

My name is Kasey, I am a fourth year undergraduate with my major in History and a minor in Medical Humanities. I was eager to intern at UCI’s Special Collections and Archives to gain a more comprehensive perspective of UCI’s history and insight into the daily life of an archivist. Over fall quarter, I poured over 15 boxes of previously unprocessed Cross Cultural Center records to create an inventory and help contribute to a finding aid. In addition, I met with Cross Cultural Center staff, cultivated material to recommend for the Cross Cultural Center’s 45th anniversary, and submitted archival collection data on student activism to Project STAND on behalf of UCI.

For the uninitiated, Project STAND is an “online clearinghouse where academic institutions can provide researchers a centralized access point to historical and archival documentation on the development and on-going occurrences of student dissent” (Project STAND). UC Irvine has a large population of student advocates for underrepresented groups and was eager to provide information from our abundant archival collections about our history of activism.

The first place I started looking was the Cross Cultural Center records within Special Collections. The Cross Cultural Center has been a refuge for ethnic minority students for the past 44 years, providing a safe space for students and faculty to learn and connect. With the establishment of a strong sense of community, The Cross has five umbrella organizations, housing over 50 clubs on campus.

In anticipation for the upcoming 45th anniversary of the Cross, part of my internship involved creating a folder-level inventory for two large unprocessed additions to Cross Cultural Center records. Many of the archived materials in the folders were club meeting flyers, photographs spanning from the genesis of the Cross Cultural Center to more current pictures of the Community Roots Festival. There was even a whole box filled with micro cassettes and VHS tapes from the 1980s-1990s, technology that appears almost comically outdated by today’s standards. Some gems found after pouring through the scattered records for two months include:

Hunger Strike 1995 in protest of repeal of affirmative action

On July 20th, 1995, the UC Regents voted to eliminate affirmative action for admissions and hiring of faculty. The Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) student group endorsed an organized hunger strike in protest of the Regent’s decision that lasted 15 days in October. It ended with several Regents agreeing to bring forth a reconsideration of the vote.

There was not only great controversy over the issue of the existence of affirmative action in universities, but also debate over the methods in which the four protesters used to make their voice heard. Several newspapers highlighted the “militant” beliefs of the organizations the protesters belonged to, as well as speculation of the health of the protesters.

The archives document an impassioned plea by four UCI students – Cesar Cruz, Enrique Valencia, Juan Cazarez, and Manuel Galvan Jr.– to enact system-wide change and the mixed response by the community and government.

Asian American Protest Photographs

In 1993, a large group of students fought for representation on campus in a momentous protest at Aldrich Hall. They fought for an Asian-American department on campus, an important step in order to reflect the interests of a majority of the campus. What is interesting is not only did Asian and Asian American student organizations join the protest, but, as seen in the picture above, student organizations pertaining to other racial, ethnic, and minority groups banded together to fight for an Asian-American department.

A privilege of interning at the archives is to be able to dig and find buried treasure. When archival material is donated to Special Collections, at times it is haphazardly organized. This presents a unique challenge for archivists to search through the material to gain context and properly arrange the material for accessibility. I dug through folders and folders of photographs, searching for pictures with any discernible significance to the Cross Cultural Center. Most pictures contain no identifiable information from long ago graduated students sitting together in rooms, which is not particularly helpful for an archivist without any annotation. In a stack full of these types of photographs there was the photo above. It is unique because the signs clearly indicate that it is in reference to the 1993 protest. Also, the subject matter is unique because it is not of Asian-American students protesting in the administration building, but of other campus organizations demonstrating their support. This intersectional allyship is a reflection of the attitude and motivations of the Cross Cultural Center, a place where people of all backgrounds can meet, feel safe, and share ideas

This photo was so perfectly framed that it was chosen to be the featured photograph to represent UC Irvine’s Featured Collection image on Project STAND’s website.

La Voz Mestiza Student Newspaper

 

This particular find was memorable because of its incendiary nature towards politicians by UCI students. I found myself thinking about the newspaper and its reaction hours after leaving Special Collections. La Voz Mestiza is a student run newspaper focusing on issues in the Chicano/Latino community.

The cover of their Spring ‘95 issue is emblazoned with a map of North and South America, labeling the northern part as “North Amerikkka” and capitalism, indicated by a map legend, blowing up portions of the globe. The back cover has politicians with swastikas and crosshairs, a serious statement to describe the newspaper’s beliefs about corruptible Republican politicians.

As can be imagined from such a political statement, there was offense taken by members of the community, even outside of UCI. One of the most prominent members was Congressman Jay Kim who wrote to the Chancellor about his concern over UC funds. California Senator Raymond Haynes wrote back and forth with UC President and former UCI Chancellor Jack Peltason about their mutual outrage over a similar article published in UC San Diego’s Voz Fronteriza. There is correspondence between the UCI Vice Chancellor and a writer from Orange County Weekly about the newspaper’s “poor taste” and inquiry into their funding. These documents all share in common their deep concern over the financial support from the UC system to spread controversial materials.

I was very surprised to see such bold imagery on a UCI newspaper. I was even more surprised that Congress felt the need to get involved. This type of activism is rarely widely distributed or remembered, swept under the rug in the flurry of media published on campus.

These three pieces of archival material are indicative of the varying scope of activism that was present in the unprocessed portions of the Cross Cultural Center records. UCI has a strong history of students who fight for what they believe in, exactly what Project STAND wants to record.

Check out UCI on Project STAND’s website here.

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