Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:40 years later: Comparing Black life of the past and present
Author(s):Williams, Simone
student experiences
Black House
Black Greek System
Residential Life
Abstract:My research is a compilation of nine interviews to understand how African American student experiences have changed over time? The proceeding questions were supporting questions to provide insight into student experiences. What is the role of the African American Cultural Center in student life on campus? How does dorm life play a role in the student experience on campus? How does the Black Greek System effect student life on campus? The interviewees ranged in diversity based on age, hometown location, high schools, and majors. The results of the research concluded that current students use and refer to the African American Cultural center as home where as a couple of alumni were unaware of the center and wished they had the opportunity to take advantage of its resources. Interviews revealed that many students believed the dorms to programs to promote culture, and lastly there was an overwhelming consensus that the Black Greek System is a social outlet and that the system needs to improve. Although the research is extensive it relies on personal experiences therefore results change per person.
Issue Date:2008-12
Course / Semester:EPS 500, Race and Ethnography: A Study of the University, Prof. Priscilla Fortier: This seminar is not only a course, but part of a cross-campus initiative titled Ethnography of the University Initiative. As a member of this course students joined a campus-wide learning community in which the University of Illinois was explored ethnographically. Students began the course by thinking about what the university is, as well as about race and ethnicity as phenomena within the university’s narratives. Students learned about universities and higher education in general and the University of Illinois in particular. A third area of concentration was “ethnography,” and students learned and practiced the basic skills of observation, interviewing, and writing as an ethnographer. Students completed several short assignments that were intended to help them develop these skills, as well as one larger ethnographic project on the University. The latter allowed them to explore an aspect of the university that has to do with an issue of race or ethnicity. In addition to the readings that students did as a class, they were expected to explore other research related to their project. The course syllabus is available at:
Date Available in IDEALS:2009-07-27

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  • Student Communities and Culture
    The university offers an extraordinary opportunity to study and document student communities, life, and culture. This collection includes research on the activities, clubs, and durable social networks that comprise sometimes the greater portion of the university experience for students.

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