VCUarts gets a pulse on their people

Samuel Goodrich
Contributing Writer

VCU’s initiatives to bring diversity to its campus has lead to a problem — how can you hear the stories of each of the university’s faculty members, instructors and thousands of students?

This sparked VCUarts’ efforts to record and archive student-arranged interviews through the Storycorps.me app, which allows users to view suggested questions and share their interviews throughout social media.

“Everybody is interesting,” said Suzanne Silitch, VCUarts director of communications who helped get the idea off the ground. “You just need to sit them down and get them to talk.”

Rooted in encouraging diversity within VCUarts, Silitch said she believes these interviews will be the foundation for a more personal web of interpersonal connections within the school.

“I thought it would be really fantastic to get stories from around VCUarts about our community, students, faculty and alumni,” Silitch said. “We really are a diverse and interesting group of people, so why not collect those stories?”

“It seemed a perfect fit to encourage students to ask their peers or professors to tell their story and give those people a chance to talk about what experiences shaped their life, while also practicing listening to what other people have to say,” Silitch said.

Silitch said she and her colleagues hope to continue this project for many years, using this first year as a test run. She also hopes that more students get involved interviewing their peers and other people who inspire them.

While the faculty can help interviewers in getting their subjects to do just that, they hope that students will come in with their own ideas and questions they want to ask.

“We’re not doing this project to provide questions that interviewers have to ask, we’re doing this to get people together in a room and let the stories be what they are so that they can be authentic,” Silitch said.

The Storycorps organization has been around since 2003 and is world-renowned for their efforts in preserving an oral history of the human experience. It’s also presented in a radio program regularly hosted on National Public Radio, with some notable interviews preserved in the Library of Congress.

For anyone who’s interested, they can sign up for interview times with the faculty by going to this link:http://goo.gl/forms/oB2iEXVt2e. Student interviewers should schedule 30 minute sessions and come with questions in mind, although the department provides samples questions just in case.

For further information, students can e-mail Erika Boltz, one of the main coordinators of the project, at boltzef@vcu.edu.

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