TW: Rape, Sexual Assault, University of Virginia, Sexual Harm

From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill, We’re gonna get drunk tonight.
The faculty’s afraid of us, They know we’re in the right,
So fill your cups, your loving cups, As full as full can be,
And as long as love and liquor last, We’ll drink to the U. of V.


Oh, I think we need another drink! Heh!
I think we need another drink! Heh!
I think we need another drink! Heh!
I think we need another drink! To the glory of the U. Va.


All you girls from Mary Washington and R.M.W.C,
Never let a Virginia man an inch above your knee,
He’ll take you to his fraternity house and fill you full of beer,
And soon you’ll be the mother of a bastard Cavalier!

-Rugby Road, Traditional UVA Fight Song


All the girls from Sweet Bush

Like guys from W&L.
All the girls from Hollins
Like Vee Mees, we can tell.
Now Careful girls, don’t let them drink
And coax your from your dress,
‘Cause as sure as there is whiskey
They’ll puke and make a mess.

A hundred Delta Gammas,
A thousand AZD’s,
Ten thousand Pi Phi bitches,
Who get down on their knees.
But the ones that we hold true,
The ones that we hold dear,
Are the ones who stay up late at night,
And take it in the rear.


All the first-year women
Are morally uptight.
They’ll never do a single thing
Unless they know it’s right.
But then they come to Rugby Road
And soon they’ve seen the light,
And you never know how many men
They’ll bring home every night.


She’s a helluva twat from Agnes Scott;
She’ll fuck for fifty cents.
She’ll lay her ass upon the grass,
Her panties on the fence.
You supply the liquor.
And she’ll supply the lay.
And if you can’t get it up, you sunuva a bitch,
You’re not from UVa.


The BC girls are Catholic
They’re virgins through and through
But when they see a Cavalier
They know just what to do
They hike their skirts; they drop their drawers;
They back against the wall
Because they know a Wahoo Fuck
Is the greatest of them all.

– Rugby Road Alternative Verses


The original article was removed by Rolling Stone, but you can find it HERE.

The response article published by Rolling Stone can be found HERE.


I’m really happy that Take Back the Archive gives individuals space to archive experiences of sexual harm at the University of Virginia. Granted, I’m not sure if I just couldn’t figure out the site, or if the website that was intended to achieve the digital collection wasn’t up yet, but I couldn’t navigate it to see any actual documents. So, I decided to do a little researching on my own. Continue reading

Why I (Still) Think Dean Spade is Super Cool

I first saw Dean Spade at a talk at Bryn Mawr last year. Before he even began to talk to us about his presentation topic, he took a moment to reflect on the Native American land that Bryn Mawr was located on. He reminded us of the privilege that we had to be in that space, and that the things that we could take from that space could open other doors for us. He told us not to ignore this privilege, but to recognize it, and to use our resources to make effective change in order to help others. Then, he began his presentation. I had never, in my entire college career (life even), had a presenter begin by having us recognize the basic foundations upon which we stood.

In the vimeo of Dean Spade speaking at Barnard College, he begins his presentation in the same way. I’m going to use this blog post to do a self-reflection on the fact that trans folk have been excluded from educational opportunities in the context of Bryn Mawr until recently (and arguably still are today).

Only recently has Bryn Mawr opened its doors to trans women. That decision, even, had been hotly contested within the administration. I would argue, even more so, within the student body. I remember I once heard a group of students talking (I was totally ease dropping), saying something to the extent of “A Women’s college is meant for women, so I think this whole thing is ridiculous.” Something even more shocking was “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with them on campus.” This sort of transphobia ranges from mircoagressive to down-right prejudice. Who are we to place a value judgement on someone’s life in order to deny them an education? Bryn Mawr was created to give women (white, cis-gendered, traditional age, wealthy) an education because they were seen to have less opportunities to receive an excellent education. Key words: they were seen to have less opportunities to receive an excellent education. Why does this fundamental doctrine not ring true of other people- people of color, trans folk, non-traditional aged students, students from low income families. Are we not all entitled to an education that can change the way we think, the way we live, for the better? Simply on a moral stand point, I would find it hard to turn away someone searching for an education based on something as silly as their identity- I would rather focus my attention on people who have been systematically opressed and who do not have the same opportunities.


On the Margins of History

Let me preface this by an acknowledgement of how witty I thought this title was. Not only will I be discussing the metaphorical margins of history (through Bryn Mawr’s Summer School for Women Workers), but through the very physical margins of archived evidence. Where to begin…

I think that one of the most interesting links that I’ve been noting through out numerous pieces of artifacts were the notes written in the margins. In documents, it’s very common for me to find handwritten anecdotes on the original paper. For example, when I was looking at the archives in the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives I came across underlines of words, doodled smiley faces, and handwritten names. What do these hand written notes mean? What was the significant to the original owners? These little things mean nothing to me. I can only guess at what importance they played in the lives of others. In some instances, it seems obvious- a heart next to a name suggest a relationship of endearment. But what about when I can’t read the text? What am I missing?

This was exactly my thoughts when I was reading the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry 11 Letter Boxes 7 feet 2 inches linear 2 Flat Boxes 3 feet linear. On the very first page, on the bottom left margin, is a note that begins with ‘No.’ (1).  The line that was bracketed off reads, “The Summer School syllabi, housed in boxes 4, 5, and 6, were transferred from the Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, in February 1985.” (2) The rest of the ‘No’ is unreadable. Does the writer know something that I don’t know? Obviously, they were trying to contradict something within the bracket, and had made a hand written annotation in an attempt to write the wrong. Unfortunately, I can’t read what they had written. Could my understanding of history have been altered by the note that I don’t have access too?

Naturally, this lead me on a hunt. After googling the Sophia Smith Collection, I found two records of Bryn Mawr’s Summer School for Women Workers in their database- Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers (1913-1974) and Mary van Kleeck Papers (1849-1998). The Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers seem to contain information on her work with the American Labor Education Service, as well as education associations and councils. (3) The Mary van Kleeck Papers seem to include “a significant amount of material relating…(to) Bryn Mawr Summer School for Student Workers” (4). Both sets of papers are available thorough the Sophia Smith Collection. Regardless, the little marginal notes from my organizational box achieve papers led me on a small hunt for missing information- it arrived in the form of two women who had written on the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Student Workers, and were involved with its educational processing. Granted, I never learned what the “No” was in reference to, but I felt like I had made a small discovery instead.



(1) “File #3456: “Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry Finding Aid.pdf” Omeka RSS. (Accessed February 10, 2016. 1.

(2) “File #3456: “Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry Finding Aid.pdf” Omeka RSS. (Accessed February 10, 2016. 1.

(3) “Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers, 1913-1974: Collection Overview.” Eleanor Gwinnell Coit Papers, 1913-1974: Collection Overview. Accessed February 10, 2016.

(4) “Mary Van Kleeck Papers, 1849-1998 : Collection Overview.” Mary Van Kleeck Papers, 1849-1998 : Collection Overview. Accessed February 10, 2016.

The Erasure of History and the Eerie Face of Smith

Composita of Smith 1886

Composita of Smith 1886

“In the winter of 1885/1886 a group of Smith College women created a tangible symbol of their college friendship.  The forty-nine members of the senior class had their individual photographs taken.  The negatives from these images were then merged at a local photography studio to create a single composite portrait of the class.  Given her own identity/name “Composita”, the Class of 1886 carried the image of this woman and “classmate” with them throughout their long and rich history, until the final member of the Class died in 1964.  What is the story of Composita, and how does this single act of creating an individual identity from many tell us about friendship within the Class?”

“Composita of Smith.” Smith College Archives. 2011. Accessed February 04, 2016.


Carter writes in Of Things Said and Unsaid: Power, Archival Silences, and Power in Silence*, “Identity is extremely important for every group, particularly, the marginalized who feel the need to assert a strong identity in the face of the power structures that attempt to stamp them out.” Nothing to me screams this better than Composita. In our Educate a Girl? You Might as Well Attempt to Educate a Cat! reading, Young talked briefly about the photograph that the students of 1886 created and gave an identify to. I thought this was immediately captivating, and sought after the image. I found it on the Smith Digital Archives (citation above, with clickable link provided). The young woman above is the creation of the combined faces of the senior class of 1886. I find this photograph, and the idea behind it, very powerful because students have created this fictional character that combines physical aspects of each of them, as well as combining their emotional aspects, into this unifying figure that they can all connect to and rally around.

Women, especially women who sought after an education during this time period, were continuously fighting agains the odds to advance themselves. By creating a fictional character that they all were a part of, they were creating a history for themselves, and for their cause. With the erasure of women in significant archival spaces, I found that the 1886 class had a made a important, yet silent, message, as the author from the online archive writes, “By taking their composite photograph and imbuing that image with a collective personality, by keeping Composita “alive,” the memories of the Class remained viable and their experiences at Smith validated.” They didn’t use words per say to get their ‘voices heard’, but rather, they used silence- silence in the form of an eerie photograph, standing for unity and a desire for higher education of women.

“Is History Written About Men, By Men?”

Janice Nimura visits class on January 26, 2016.

Janice Nimura visits class on January 26, 2016.

Are you reading this blog post? Great! Remember that your first contribution to the blog is due Sunday night, before our February 2 class. Looking forward to more posts and comments! –MM

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During class today, writer Janice Nimura mentioned two recent posts on Slate and Bustle about popular history books, and to read more, here are the links:

** On Twitter, Rebecca Onion, who is the History writer for Slate, runs Slate Vault, and is an American Studies Ph.D., is doing great things under the wide umbrella of history in public: check out her feed @RebeccaOnion. If you think you’d like to talk to her at some point in class, let me know, and we’ll invite her!