As a senior, you like to think that you've made the most of your four years at DePauw and you know our history. You've attended all the Ubben lectures, taken racquetball, eaten Marvin's, attended the classes you're really interested in, determined your major, visited the Boulder, the list goes on.
I like to think of myself as that senior. I thought I knew about DePauw's past, and I tried actively to be a part of its present. And yet, last semester, I did something I'd never done before. I entered the DePauw Archives and Collections Office. Many of you may not know what I'm talking about, and I'm here to tell you - this office is incredible.
I was in the middle of a group project for my Social Protest Theory course, and the assignment was to research a significant social movement and present a lesson to the class. Our group decided on the Gay Rights Movement, but wanted a new slant to keep the class interested. I suggested viewing the movement through the lens of DePauw's campus and made that my focus for the presentation. And after that brilliant suggestion, I was stuck.
I was searching through The DePauw website, trying to pull up old news articles on the topic, only to find editorial responses to events that had happened on campus, rather than actual materials. Articles were particularly focused on a fake newspaper that had been published in 1996, parodying Wabash's newspaper. The event caused an uproar on campus, but I was only finding letters to the editor in response to the fake newspaper.
After emailing the librarians to ask for help, they told me to go to the archives of Roy O. West to see what I could find. I came to find out, the archives are on the second floor of Roy O., through the wooden door that I always assumed was an old church office from the days of DePauw's close affiliation with the Methodist church.
I walked in and was greeted by an archives librarian. I told her a little about what I was looking for, but she turned me away empty handed after doing a quick search on her computer. I was back to square one - or so I thought.
A few hours after my visit, I received an email from the archives librarian, telling me that she had been searching all morning for my request and that she had found what she thought I was looking for. I went back to the archives, and waiting for me on the table was a file folder stuffed with precisely the research I had been attempting, including a full copy of the fake newspaper that had caused such outrage on campus back in 1996.
I was thrilled. I was allowed to make as many copies of the materials as I needed and headed out to continue working on my project.
Honestly, I feel a little guilty taking credit for some of the research because the archive librarians did a lot of the legwork. I had a question, but they were the ones who made the process easy. I received outstanding feedback on my portion of the presentation and I owe much of that to the archives librarians.
DePauw is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. It's an incredible milestone and I am proud to be a part of its history. As I make my exit in May, the advice I pass on is to learn more about DePauw's history. It's easy to do.
Enter the archives. The wooden door may be scary, but it's well worth pushing the door open and exploring what is inside. Do you have questions about the boulder? Want to know what DePauw was like during the Civil Rights movement? The archives have answers.
We have a history - any place this old does. Not all of our history is shining (as I learned through my research), but our past has made us the institution we are today. We can only learn and grow by studying where we've come from and how we've changed.
- Sender is a senior from Normal, Ill., majoring in music business.