Building a stronger community at Ursinus
Book clubs, a theater piece, and a speaker series are only a few of the projects to have received funding from Ursinus’ new Inclusive Community Grants and Fellowships program.
The program, an initiative of the President’s Office, aims to further a “commitment to fostering conversations on issues of equity, diversity, and social justice.” Recipients include Senior Angela Bey’s the “White Feather Project,” a theater piece that looks at “racial cowardice” in the Ursinus community; Professor Rebecca Evans’ Project on Migration capstone research course; the Time Alone with Baldwin book club led by Codi Yhap ’20 and Angela Upright ’17; and many other projects, according to an email sent by President Blomberg.
One of the winners, Angela Bey ‘19, began working on their proposal the day the Inclusivity Grants were announced and submitted a proposal two weeks later. Combining scholarly research, in-person interviews, and other primary sources, their project will culminate in a play that examines the Ursinus College community’s understanding of white fragility and recent racial bias incidents on campus. Specifically, the project and its research will demonstrate how “this trait has larger repercussions for marginalized groups – whether white people intend it to or not,” according to Bey.
“[The White Feather Project] holds a mirror to the Ursinus community, but all will be able to see themselves in the data and performance,” they said.
Although Bey said that this iteration of The White Feather Project is “specific to the Ursinus College racial climate,” they believe their project has broader meaning as well.
“Its messages go further into the white psyche and the insidiousness of white supremacy. White people can be aware of their privilege, cowardice, and guilt, but The White Feather Project’s work places the responsibility and bravery necessary to dismantle a racist system into the laps of its audience members,” they said.
“The White Feather Project will be devised for two performers in a collaborative process emphasizing vulnerability and tenderness. “We have just had auditions at Ursinus and will be holding another round of callbacks and auditions in Philadelphia within the upcoming weeks. Currently, our collaborators are Dramaturg, Rachel Ceciro, a multidisciplinary artist and recent graduate of New College of Florida (Anthropology & Performance Studies), and Ursinus senior Sophie Gioffre as our stage manager.” Performances will be on-campus and in Philadelphia in Spring 2019. More information is available at www.thewhitefeatherproject. com,” Bey said.
Another winning project came from a group of professors with the goal of uniting Ursinus’ campus under one literary project. The One Book, One Ursinus project was submitted by Associate Dean Dr. Meredith Goldsmith, Director of Research and librarian Diane Skorina, Assistant Director of UCARE Katie Turek, Dr. Patricia Lott, and Dr. Talia Argondezzi.
One Book, One Ursinus seeks to “invite members of the campus community to read a common text, take part in small-group discussions about it, and attend talks related to it throughout the spring 2019 semester,” according to Presi- dent Blomberg’s email. The book this spring is Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie, a novel about a young woman who “navigates the limitations many immigrants face securing respect, a sense of community, and fulfilling work in the United States… she develops relationships that help her develop her sense of self.”
According to Skorina, “One Book programs have been around for a while now, and they are often run by libraries in an effort to get many people in a community to read the same book at the same time so that everyone can talk about it in both informal and formal ways.”
Katie Turek added, “The Inclusive Community Grant gave us the funding to purchase 125 books to do this as a pilot to gauge campus interest. There will be three main events – February 25th, March 28th and April 30th – to which everyone will be invited where someone will give a brief talk and then we’ll have small group discussions about the book.”
Skorina hopes that “if this program is successful this semester, we’ll be able to get funding from the College to keep doing it every Spring, and perhaps even get money to be able to bring relatively big-name authors to campus to speak in the future.
More information about the Inclusive Community Grant and Fellowship is available online at: https://www.ursinus. edu/offices/presidents-office/inclusive-community-grants-and-fellowship/inclusive-community-grants/.