Being part of the M-visible voices project I have been able to go to some podcast recordings as well as having the opportunity to listen to recordings myself. These podcasts usually consist of a faculty member, an alumnus, and a current student having a dialogue about their experiences at the University of Michigan navigating their identities, communities, and the institution itself.
The podcasts explore topics such as constructing community, the creation of safe spaces, the connection between technology and social change movements, the establishment of the Asian, Pacific Islander American Studies department, the experiences of undocumented students, the impact of culturally-based greek organizations, as well as others. Listening to the recordings as a first-generation student was eye-opening and changed the way I saw the university. Many of the organizations, spaces, and departments now present at the university are here because of the students and faculty that decided to come together and organize to make Michigan somewhere to call ‘home’ for their communities and future students. Such organizations, spaces, and departments that in a way I have taken for granted, because I’ve always had those resources available. If I had been born in a different decade (or a couple of years earlier), my experience at the University of Michigan would look entirely different.
As much as I want to have undying pride to be a Wolverine, this institution was not created with students of color and other marginalized communities in mind. This is a narrative we don’t talk about as much when we celebrate the bicentennial, but it is part of our 200 year-old history. Students today continue to build off what others before them have built from scratch. The podcasts reflect this, through the storytelling of their experiences between generations. We are celebrating the contributions a diverse student body and faculty bring to the University of Michigan.