The official history of UC Merced will be kept by campus administrators and archivists. But Michelle Jacobs of the UC Merced Library staff had a feeling that students, faculty and staff had fascinating stories of their own to tell.
She’s capturing those stories through the UC Merced Oral History Project, UC Merced Memories. Students, faculty and staff can participate.
Jacobs explained that while the project is not part of any other storytelling project, it is based in spirit on other efforts to record oral history, like the current Story Corps project being conducted by National Public Radio, the Library of Congress and other partners. The idea is that anybody - official or unofficial - can have their say by recording their stories on video and then be included in a keyword-searchable database on the UC Merced Library’s Web site.
We’ve had about ten participants so far, Jacobs said. We’re also including some footage from the CORE Panel, where students in the CORE course discussed their experiences with the class. We’re hoping for more participation when students return in the fall.
Some students have told stories about their university experience, some about their personal challenges, and some about their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For some, the project has provided a place to vent their frustrations. For others, it has been a way to share more positive experiences. All viewpoints are welcome, Jacobs emphasized.
Participants may record individually or in interview-style pairs. Jacobs has found that some people who were initially eager to participate find themselves at a loss when the camera is rolling. So she has a list of questions to help jump-start the storytelling - for example, Why did you choose UC Merced? or What are some issues that are shaping your life? It’s also fine to sidestep the questions and tell your story in your own way.
We’ll advertise again in the fall in the Dining Commons, and even before that at new-student orientation, Jacobs said.