Interrogating%20the%20University,%20One%20Archive%20(Entry)%20at%20a%20Time:%20The%20Daily%20Life%20and%20Research%20of%20the%20Ethnography%20of%20the%20University%20Initiative%20(EUI)%20Higher%20Education%20Collaborative%20(HEC)%20March%2012,%202008-03-05%20%20Nancy%20Abelmann%20Gina%20Bessa%20Priscilla%20Fortier - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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... basic version of what Jenn Baldwin suggested in her proposal: resource mapping. ... [an undergraduate classmate thinks about how to scale up Stephen's findings] ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interrogating%20the%20University,%20One%20Archive%20(Entry)%20at%20a%20Time:%20The%20Daily%20Life%20and%20Research%20of%20the%20Ethnography%20of%20the%20University%20Initiative%20(EUI)%20Higher%20Education%20Collaborative%20(HEC)%20March%2012,%202008-03-05%20%20Nancy%20Abelmann%20Gina%20Bessa%20Priscilla%20Fortier

Interrogating the University, One Archive (Entry)
at a Time The Daily Life and Research of the
Ethnography of the University Initiative
(EUI)Higher Education Collaborative (HEC)March
12, 2008-03-05 Nancy AbelmannGina
BessaPriscilla Fortier
EUIs Mission
  • to treat students as knowledge producers
  • to preserve student research for future students
    and others
  • to create a way for students to play an active
    role in the university

Preserving Student Knowledge
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    Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS)
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  • Research Page
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  • Faculty Seminar Program

Request for Proposals2008-2010
  • Online at EUI Website
  • http//
  • Due on April 1, 2008

EUI ResearchDay by Day
  • Rachael Levine
  • Anthropology 411 Methods for Sociocultural
  • A Break in the Chain A Look at Communication
    between Resident Advisors the Resident Life
    Employees Above Them

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
About the Author
  • ... I became interested in the topic of my
    research after first working with University
    Housing as an Office Assistant for a Resident
    Director (RD) during my sophomore year. I became
    a Resident Advisor (RA) my sophomore year, as
    well, and continued in the position through my
    junior year...
  • The further I got involved in this department,
    the more frustration I saw amongst the RAs, and
    at times the RDs, in regards to policy making and
    a lack of easy communication with the higher
    administration. Given my background observations
    and experiences, I decided to address the issues
    through this research project.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Inclusiveness Statement from University
    Housing Guiding Documents
  • Res. Life has to be as welcoming, inclusive, and
    all-encompassing as possible. But When it comes
    down to it, they are basically a business, and
    they do need to make everyone happy, whether
    thats possible or not. These attempts can be
    seen in several sections of this document.

Analysis of a University Document
EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Take 1 Staff residents disconnect 
  • How do residents feel about the Inclusiveness
    Statement? How do they see if acted out, if at
    all? Does that vary across residence halls, and
    resident advisors? How do resident advisors view
    this statement? How do they think they support
    the statement? Do resident directors do a lot to
    make sure this statement is upheld? Is so, what
    do they do what dont they do? Do administrators
    see the actions taken place in support of this
    statement? Do they do anything with the
    residents, or indirectly, to support the
    statement in an active manner? Furthermore, is
    there a disconnect between staff and residents in
    the ideas and actual experiences within the halls?

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Take 2 Housing staff/administration
  • I have been working a hypothesis over in my
    head since we had the text analysis assignment.
    However, I am not quite sure I know how to get at
    the topic in which I am interested. I would
    venture to say that the Inclusiveness Statement
    of the Residential Life (University Housing)
    department means somewhat the same thing to
    everyone on a very basic level, though on other
    levels it means something different to Housing
    staff and administration than it does to the
    residents of the halls.

Question, cont.
EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Take 3 RAs and housing administration
  • After discussing things with my comment group
    in class last week, I realized what I really want
    to get at through this project is the disconnect
    between RAs and the Housing administration. These
    two groups very rarely converse together, and are
    actually discouraged from directly addressing one
    another without using the resident director as a
    middle man. Administration makes rules, changes
    rules, administers policies. These things are
    then told to the resident director who is left to
    tell them to his resident advisors. ... Why is
    there such a wall between RAs and the

Question, cont.
EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
Question, cont.
  • And Another Thing....
  • I also wonder if this is indeed a historical
    organizational divide, perhaps inescapable for
    such a large department (although I do not
    believe that), or if it is something new that has
    formed in response to current employees personal
    styles, perspectives, and opinions?
  • And a Concern....
  • I was originally trying to stay away from this
    topic because I have some personal biases on the
    topic... As a past RA, I am very curious to know
    why there has to be such a divide. I never had
    the chance to ask while I was an RA, and was
    discouraged from asking, so I would like to take
    the chance now. I will conduct the interviews
    very cautiously to try to control some of my
    biases and keep them from affecting any answers.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Take 1 The big take
  • In order to try to find answers to some of these
    questions, I would like to interview residents,
    resident advisors, and resident directors from a
    few different halls.
  • Take 2 Narrowing down
  • In order to answer this question, I will look at
    one residence hall on campus. It is one that has
    historically been considered within the Housing
    Department to "go against the grain" of the rest
    of the halls. In the past, they have been known
    to protest administration decisions in several
    different cases and points in time.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • ....And More history
  • I would like to go through more of the archival
    documents on Housing. I want to see if I can find
    something in them that directly relates to the
    one residence hall on which I would like to

Plan, cont.
EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Interview with RA, Natalie
  • Natalie I see it as segregated. I mean, I feel
    like theres the hall, and then theres Housing
    floating, putting red tape around the hall.
  • Me How does that affect your outlook on the
    job? How do you feel when you say, I am a
    Housing employee.?
  • Natalie I never say that I just feel like I
    dont represent Housing.
  • I left the interview with a strong impression
    that Natalie felt a divide between Housing
    administration and herself. She communicated this
    feeling both through direct statements as well as
    language and body movements.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
Data, cont.
  • Cooking the data? ...
  • Rachael worried about her own role in the
  • I think that it would have been sufficient for
    me to leave the question at, do you see yourself
    as being part of the same department? I said the
    word segregation, and that was exactly what
    Natalie used to answer. On the other hand, given
    previous statements, this could be a situation
    like that which Bourdieu addresses something may
    be there which never would have been spoken, but
    which was already there
  • ...In listening to the audio recording, I could
    hear myself accenting certain words that showed
    my feelings of the relationship between RAs and
    administration i.e. stressing the word they or
    them referring to administration.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Residence Hall Staff Materials
  • 1966 Mens Residence Halls Staff Handbook
  • ... I found it interesting because the Counselor
    (RA) is being asked to, at once, be a fellow
    resident (and thereby exhibit no trace of his
    relationship with administration) as well as a
    representative of and a liaison to Housing
  • ...the documents ... provide evidence of the
    organizational structure of housing in the past.
    It is fairly similar to that of today.
    Furthermore, the statements made in the handbooks
    by administration, especially that last quote,
    lead me to believe that there was probably a
    separation between the two. Also, the fact that
    the word administration was put in quotes by the
    administration, makes me think that it was a
    power separation and disconnect that had become
    quite apparent...

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
Data, cont.
  • I asked several resident advisors and some
    higher administration (although not the
    highest) to draw their idea of where their role
    in University Housing fits in with other
    employees of the department and how they are
    related. I gave each participant a blank sheet of
    paper and a pen with limited instructions and not
    much of a prompt.
  •   Of the other charts I received, one was rather
    simplistic at first glance. It appears to be a
    flow chart just showing the different jobs in
    housing and where they have traditionally stood.
    After discussing with the participant, though, I
    understood that each connecting lines length
    stood for the strength of the relationship. Also,
    the size of the circle that each category was
    placed in served to tell how that participant
    viewed their amount of power. For instance,
    University Housing Administration was put at
    the very tip with large letters. There was also a
    small description underneath the title marking
    this category as an authority and comprised of
    muckety-mucks. This category was also very
    distant in line from the RA position, with the RD
    and AC placed in between. The participant
    explained that these were the people she had to
    go through to get to the top.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • Hypothesis confirmed...
  • In order to determine the existence of this
    break in communication between Resident Advisors
    and those people making the policies by which
    they live, I conducted an interview with a
    current 2nd-year RA, researched the University
    Archives on University Housing, referenced a
    former Ethnography of the University project, and
    asked 3 RAs, a resident director, and an area
    coordinator to create their own visual
    representations of employee relations. These
    methods have led to some interesting responses,
    all of which support my hypothesis thus far.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
Discuss, cont.
  • Still undone...
  • Nevertheless, I am still left with the question
    of how the administration feels, or where the
    resident director falls in the organization.
  • All in all, I feel I have demonstrated that
    these RAs are feeling something other than
    support for their jobs, and that this is causing
    stress and frustration. I would like to look into
    this aspect more and determine whether this
    feeling is universally represented in residence
    halls across campus, rather than just one. More
    importantly, though, I would like to talk with
    more resident directors and higher
    administration. I am wondering if they even
    recognize this problem on the lowest level of
    the hierarchy. If they do, I am wondering what
    are their opinions on the matter, or if they have
    plans to relieve the stress and frustration of
    these RAs. With further research in these areas,
    it can be determined whether both camps of
    employees see this break in communication. ...
    With this information, perhaps greater strides
    can be made towards fixing this problem.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • focus on Resident Director
  • The resident director (RD) is seen as a liaison
    between RAs and the administration. They are put
    in an interesting position between these two
    groups, and I am interested to hear their
    opinions are on the matter. The viewpoint of the
    RD is valuable as it may provide insight on the
    source of RAs frustration. The RD participates
    in both administrative tasks as well as more
    direct work with the residents, a position which
    gives them perspectives of both groups.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
Proposal, cont.
  • Significance of Research
  • It can be seen through preliminary research
    posted on my data page for the Anthropology 411
    Moodle that, from the perspective of an RA, there
    are some problems with the way Housing
    Administration communicates with those who serve
    as a liaison for the residents. ...Continuation
    of this research could hopefully push University
    Housing to address this issue. A problem such as
    this has a wide breadth of affect unhappy
    resident advisors are less likely to carry out
    their job requirements, thereby not providing the
    best resources for the thousands of residents in
    the halls. A solution to this problem can only be
    attempted after further research on the cause,
    and that solution has the potential to improve
    Residential Lifes employee satisfaction, and
    should therefore be of interest to the

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • decision to archive
  • I plan to publicly archive my research and data.
    Having complied with IRB, I see no harm in making
    this data available. It can serve as a benefit to
    the Residential Life department, and perhaps give
    them a basis to begin further investigation of
    their own. In addition, this problem may exist on
    other college campuses, and therefore pertain to
    other Housing departments as well as our own.

EUI Research... Day by DayA Break in the Chain
  • .... In my opinion, the data shows that
    increased communication across employees and job
    positions could reduce some frustration and
    stress for the RAs.
  •   from 3-person comment group
  • ...Your pilot research also demonstrates how
    ignorant the upper administration seems to be in
    regard to the frustration of the RAs.  I think
    you should share the results of your research
    with some of them!

Ethnography OF (not AT) the University
  • Thinking Institutionally Easier Said than Done..
  • Ingrid Bergstrom
  • Romantic Relationships and the University

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.on Romantic
  • My research pursues the questions of how
    romantic relationships impact incoming freshmen,
    more specifically, romantic relationships carried
    over from high school, in which both individuals
    in the relationship matriculate to the
    university. My research looked to better
    understand what elements of the University of
    Illinois impacted these relationships, what
    effects these changes had in combination with the
    students transitioning to college, and if there
    are any measures the university can take in order
    to assist these individuals, and any others in
  • I also want to see post matriculation, if and
    how the University has changed/developed/disintegr
    ated etc their relationship.

Question, revised
Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.on Romantic
  • Lessons from her interviews housing matters!
  • The housing policy at the University of Illinois
    and how it assigns first year students their
    housing also has a significant potential to
    impact relationships. The university requires all
    first year students to live in University of
    Illinois student housing 1, and the large
    majority of first year students live in
    University owned and operated residence halls
    2. The university of Illinois housing process
    does not allow for the student applying to choose
    where they wish to live, it only allows for them
    to list preferences for halls or certain groups
    of halls, and they are assigned to their halls in
    accordance with when they submitted their housing
  • 1 Author unknown, Your Illinois Experience
    Starts here, University of Illinois Housing and
    Dining, Prospective Students, The University of
    Illinois, 2007, http//
  • 2 Author unknown, Illinois Certified Housing
    Statistics. Campus Statistics used in Surveys.
    The University of Illinois, 07-07-2007,

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.on Romantic
  • In conclusion, I will assert that relationships
    are in fact affected when the two individuals
    matriculate to the University, and I would argue
    that the size of the University coupled with the
    first year housing processes act as major factors
    in this change.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.on Romantic
Research Proposal, cont.
  • The University as Actor An Un-named Population
    in Need of Service!, cont.
  • Significance
  • The significance of this proposed research is
    both far-reaching and incredibly important. The
    concept of being in a relationship is a broad
    concept with very hazy boundaries. It is also
    something that does not often yield overt and/or
    obvious negative effects on a student (as opposed
    to sexual assault, racism, substance abuse etc.)
    Because of this, I would argue that up to this
    point, the impact of relationships is not
    something with which the University has seriously
    concerned itself. However, I would argue that
    even in the absence of overt effects, consensual
    relationships still have a profound and deep
    impact on students involved with them, for they
    are often an incredibly personal, emotional and
    significant part of students lives in many
    cases these relationships help to shape and
    define how individuals view themselves and the
    world around them.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.on Romantic
  • Thinking Institutionally Together
  • An undergraduate classmate has an aha moment
  • I really like the idea of physical space in your
    project. I have never really thought about how
    big our campus actually is, and how that could
    affect a relationship so much. When students used
    to seeing their partner in high school everyday
    have to adjust to living on a large campus such
    as ours it must be quit a shock. You also bring
    up an interesting point in that new students
    don't really choose where they get to live. When
    I first read your write-up I thought to myself,
    "I got to choose," but I had completely forgotten
    that those three choices were merely

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.on Romantic
Comments, cont.
  • Thinking Institutionally Together
  • A graduate student classmate weighs in
  • Here's a link to the long-distance relationships
    workshop on Fri., Sept. 12, 7-9 p.m., 406 Illini
  • the Professor weighs in
  • ...I still want to know more about HOW you
    imagine the university as an actor in all this --
    i.e., with your phrase "if and how the
    University has changed/developed/disintegrated
    etc their relationship" -- what are the processes
    through which you imagine this happening?

Ethnography OF (not AT) the University
  • Thinking Institutionally Easier Said than Done..
  • Steven Lilly
  • Mission Negotiation among RSOs with a Desire to
    Provide a Social Service to Members of the

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.Mission
Negotiation among RSOs
  • I decided to focus on the second idea that I
    presented in the plan section, which has to do
    with the development of RSOs within the context
    of the University of Illinois. It is possible
    that the findings from such a study could also be
    applied to development of groups in general, as I
    believe that there are some universal constraints
    which might steer the development of all groups
    and organizations.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.Mission
Negotiation among RSOs
  • Money Matters
  • From an interview
  • JOAN ...Well the problem is, things like SORF
    Office of the Student Organization Resource Fee
    can't be applied to social events. It can't be
    applied to anything in the community. So anything
    that students do with members of the community,
    which is our entire club, they won't fund.
  • Stephens reflections/discovery
  • I find funding to be one of the most interesting
    points of study. I believe that it is the way in
    which the University has the most power over what
    an RSO can or cannot do. Funding can only be
    applied to activities that the University deems
    to be worthy of funds. For many organizations,
    the sky is the limit as to what can be purchased
    with SORF money. As a former member of the
    sailing club, I know that SORF help fund the
    purchase of three boats last year alone. Here it
    seems that lack of funding from SORF can steer
    the club in other directions.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.Mission
Negotiation among RSOs
Data, cont.
  • (Other) Resources Matter
  • Taking inspiration from a classmates suggestion
    in her Moodle
  • First I wanted to attempted a very basic version
    of what Jenn Baldwin suggested in her proposal
    resource mapping. I wanted Mike to map all of the
    different resources that have been available for
    the formation of the group. Including things that
    have not been mobilized.
  • From an interview
  • Mike...For me personally, I'm taking a course
    on the sociology of immigration, which just by
    chance happened to line up with this, and that's
    been helpful for me to kind of conceptualize
    these issues in terms of what it really means to
    be an immigrant, the whole history of immigration
    in this country.
  • Stephens reflections/discovery
  • ...The University possesses an immense talent in
    teaching. ... This aspect of the University has
    not been mentioned before. I had been
    concentrating on the RSO office and their
    policies concerning funding, reserving rooms, and
    such, but the University is also a huge source of
    knowledge and talent that can be drawn on.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.Mission
Negotiation among RSOs
Research Proposal
  • (The University Allowing for) An Organic Process
  • Through an extended field study, I intend to
    show that in order for a community-affiliated RSO
    to be successful in the midst of complex issues
    and resource limitations it must not negotiate
    its mission solely among its student members.
    Rather, a successful community-affiliated RSO
    should create its mission through the formation
    of a relationship between the students and the
    participating community members based on a common
    understanding of the issues at hand.
  • ...If my hypothesis is shown to be correct...
    the most important factors in the construction of
    an organization is not the possession of great
    skill and organizational abilities rather, the
    most important factor is the openness to allow
    organic processes to shape and mold the
    structure and mission of the organization.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.Mission
Negotiation among RSOs
  • Scaling Up... Organic Processes, cont.
  • A possible recommendation for the University
    would be that when it attempts to address student
    needs on campus through initiatives it must not
    negotiate the mission solely through the
    consultation of administrators. Rather the
    University must also allow more organic processes
    to take place and allow the students to shape the
    form of these initiatives to correspond more
    accurately to the true issues being addressed.

Ethnography OF (not at) the Univ.Mission
Negotiation among RSOs
  • Thinking Institutionally Together
  • an undergraduate classmate thinks about how to
    scale up Stephens findings
  • I kind of forgot about this one... SORF
    regulation...You posit that this study could
    uncover universal constraints that can be applied
    to all groups. Thats a neat way to extrapolate
    from a specific case and make it relevant to a
    larger group.