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Dating and Interpersonal Violence at Miami

Possible Assignments

There are numerous possibilities for activities. All activities involve a critical evaluation of resources/issues from across the Digital Collections hosted by the Walter Havighurst Special Collections in King Library at Miami University.

After familiarizing students with recent institutional and community conversations and initiatives, students should investigate the archive, asking themselves the following questions:

  • What is found?
  • What is not found?
  • What are the motivations behind public messaging and reporting?
  • Which questions are answered?
  • Which questions are not?

Possible activities include:

  • Take Back the Night was a movement that originated in Philadelphia in 1975. It sought to provide a venue for women to speak out against sexual violence. Every year Miami holds a Take Back the Night march after a speak-in for participants/survivors.
    • What is the history and occurrence of TAKE Back the Night demonstrations at Miami?
    • When did they begin?
    • How did they begin?
    • What is the experience of being at one of these rallies?
    • What is its impact on Miami students?
    • Who are the “victims” of violence on Miami’s campus that are honored through this rally
  • Miami university has had a “Women’s Center” in many forms since the 1970s. The purpose of these initiatives is to ensure women's full participation and success on campus through activities that support and advocate for women, engage the campus community with women's and gender issues, and foster women's personal and professional development and empowerment.
    • What is the history of the Women’s Center and its involvement with gender violence on campus?
    • When and why did it begin?
    • What artifacts and information are in the archives?
    • What are the many focus’ and changes the center has gone through over the years?
    • Have any “controversial” issues happened?
    • How has the center supported Miami women over the years?
  • Examine the history of the resources available on campus to survivors of sexual violence. The university websites list these as Primary Programming focused on the issue of sexual violence: Ongoing Programming, Online Resources, Title IX Efforts, Response Training, Supportive Services, Safety-Related Transportation, and Sex Offender Registration.
    • What are these initiatives?
    • Who oversees them?
    • How do they support victims of violence?
    • Are there additional resources you think would be beneficial to students?
    • Are there resources used in the past that no longer exist and why? This can include an evaluation of student groups, etc.
    • How long have they been available?
    • What resources were available historically?
    • How have these resources been supported, not supported, funded, etc?
  • Compare and evaluate the three university sponsored “campus climate surveys” and the information they present on sexual violence that have occurred in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
    • What was asked?
    • How many respondents were there?
    • What information was gained?
    • What university changes resulted?
    • What wasn’t asked? Be critical thinkers.
  • Examine and evaluate the many reported cases of sexual violence at Miami and in Oxford though the public notification system.
    • What is being told?
    • What is not?
    • How does it impact/effect students?
  • Examine historical documents about Miami looking for information about “problems” of women on campus, issues of “problem” behaviors by women, gendered university expectations etc. Go back as far as possible looking through documents, publications, letters, etc. Places to look include the Miami paper, old Oxford Press papers, etc.

Learning Outcomes

  • Think critically about the complexity of the dynamics of interpersonal violence and the effect on the community of Miami.
  • Critique interpersonal violence activities/focus/programming using Miami documents and research.
  • Evaluate the impact of various policies, experiences, and interventions from a university student perspective.

Research and Teaching Process

Much of this work was designed for inclusion in the course SOC/WGS 451/551 Interpersonal Violence. In preparing this material, however, it became very clear that the University’s archives are essential component of encouraging student awareness and responsibility for their community.

This project involves a critical evaluation of resources/issue from as many sources as can be located. Utilizing the many historical archives Miami University holds is an excellent source of information. Back issues of the Miami Student newspaper, student submissions/diaries, Oxford Press, etc. are all excellent resources that can be used to complete this project. The entire idea was to find a way to explore and understand Miami University from a “historical” lens.

I teach Family Violence/Interpersonal Violence courses in FSW every semester. Even the difficult topics discussed in class could be highlighted by using the history of Miami, its experiences, responses, and programming to address such issues is a great way to appreciate and understand history. It is educational to understand our institution and its history from the perspective that better understanding yesterday will help us discuss current issues and influence the future. This project was designed with that in mind.

There are many ways these activity ideas could be used. They can be explored individually, in a group project, or even  “competing” groups. They can be used to understand where we are today and how to shape our institution for the safety of students tomorrow. I think the opportunity to critically examine strengths, weaknesses, institutional processes and programming will greatly benefit the education of our students.

The questions of who we are, how we got where we are, and where do we want our university to be in the future are integral in this project. We, as an institution are shaped by our past but more importantly are part of shaping our future. This is the driving force behind this project.

Stepping outside the question of violence, for the moment, these materials also suggest that for any campus controversy or problem—mitigation of climate change, architectural challenges, development challenges, other safety challenges—there was likely a full institutional conversation about how best to solve them. There is value in bringing these archives in your classroom in ways you may not otherwise consider.

Center for Teaching Excellence

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