Exploring Student Voices at Gustavus

Researched histories of the Gustavus campus and faculty have been produced over the course of the college’s existence, but less focus has been given to the student experience.

Junior History and Theater Major Katelyn Juni is currently working to showcase this student perspective through the Patricia Lindell Scholarship, awarded through Gustavus Library Associates (GLA).

Library Professor Dan Mollner described that the selection criteria for the scholarship included a focus on projects which will be of benefit to students, the library, and the college.

Describing earlier historical accounts of the college, Mollner said, “there’s a lot of talking to faculty members, there’s a lot of talking to long-term employees, and this is sort of a peoples’ history of Gustavus. It’s supposed to be from the students.”

Juni was selected to receive the scholarship earlier this academic year after submitting a proposal to the GLA. Working in partnership with her project adviser, Library Professor Barbara Fister, Juni is in the process of creating a digital timeline. An experience crafting a museum display in a public history class with History Professor Sujay Rao inspired Juni to pursue efforts to develop a digital timeline, reflecting the student history of the college.

“I felt that since I’d had experience doing an actual physical exhibit, I thought it would be interesting to approach this [student history] from a digital perspective,” Juni said.

Fister addressed Juni’s plans and vision for the project.

“Katelyn was really thoughtful as a history major, thinking about the ways that a project like this can pull out experiences of people and make them part of our sense of history,” Fister said.

The timeline will span from the creation of the college to the present, and Juni is utilizing material from the Gustavus Adolphus College and Lutheran Church Archives to share voices of the earliest Gusties captured in documents and editions of The Gustavian Weekly. She has also reached out to Gustavus alumni.

In addition to the material available in the archives and the voices of the past, Juni seeks the most contemporary perspective offered by current students. Juni and Fister have developed several prompts to guide students in formulating responses, including a larger vision of “defining moments at Gustavus”, including particular challenges, locations, or activities on campus.

“That could be an academic project, that could be Christmas in Christ Chapel, theater, dance, research that you’ve done with professors here on campus. Really, just anything that students past and present have found important and valuable about their Gustavus experience,” Juni said.

Students are encouraged to submit photographs and responses to the “Student Voices at Gustavus” Facebook page, through email, or to utilize the collection box on the main floor of the Library. Those who submit may also indicate if they wish for the submitted material to remain anonymous.

Juni reflected on the importance of student submissions.

“I think that this project is different in that it’s not somebody coming here and just writing about the school, writing history about Gustavus. This is a project that is specifically for the students. The amount of student voice, the amount of student presence, all depends on the student body itself, so students have a lot of agency in this project, which I think is different in the histories that have been told by Gustavus, or that the school has commissioned in the past,” Juni said.

Previous Lindell Scholarship Projects may be viewed on on the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library web page. In addition to the Lindell Scholarship, the GLA will be accepting submissions for the Lindell Research Paper Awards through May 27. Papers may be sent to fister@gustavus.edu and more information is available online.