My name is Alexa Rasmussen, and I am a senior at Elon, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and minoring in Leadership Studies. At Elon, I am an Odyssey Scholar, a Leadership Fellow, and a Periclean Scholar. I also serve on the University’s Honor Board, as well as on the President’s Student Leadership Advisory Board. Throughout my college experience, I have become deeply passionate about learning different strategies to combat injustice. I specifically became very driven to understanding the ways in which gender-based violence exists in our Elon community, and what work we could do to change that. One way I sought to do this was through diving into the archival database that Elon has, and looking to see how the language and policy around sexual violence on our campus has changed over the last century. Because Elon’s archives offer digital versions of the student handbook dating back to 1922, I began using this platform to read every student handbook from 1922- 2021, and tracing the evolution of the discourse around sexual assault and sexual violence.
The storyboard that I have created to share the results of my archival analysis begins with a spotlight on Elon President Emeritus, Leo Lambert. Because Dr. Lambert was very kind and allowed me to interview him, I was able to get a sneak-peak at how his famous convocation speech given each year to first year students evolved in efforts of acknowledging gender-based violence from 2013 to 2016. The storyboard then continues by highlighting the key findings of how the student handbooks policies and dialogue changed over the last 100 years. My storyboard concludes by providing a brief timeline of sexual assault Issues and policy changes in the United States.
My hope is that readers will walk away from my research with a deeper understanding of how archives can help us to identify the origins of injustice, as well as how we can use archives to highlight progress, while also identifying where change is still needed. My project specifically reveals how the normalization of policy that allows gender-based violence to continue can be changed and resisted against when we speak up and fight for justice.