Slug Stories is new initiative from Colleges 9 & 10 inspired by Story Corps and Humans of New York: the creation of a story archive of all entering students, written early in their first year, based on a prompt that asks students to talk about formative experiences, overcoming struggles, identity, and aspirations. This effort includes a narrative writing component added to the Core Course; “story slams” around themes like resilience, grit, perseverance; a social media and outreach campaign showcasing our diverse students; a rich database for faculty and student research generating information about our changing student demographics; and an innovative initiative exciting to donors, alumni, and prospective students.
The benefits of the “Slug Stories” project are manifold: it symbolizes that all of our students are part of the tapestry that is this university. For underrepresented students especially, the act of personal narrative entails assertions such as: “I have a voice. My experiences are meaningful. I am clear about my aspirations and goals about higher education.” This project gives students the opportunity to critically examine the way in which others have “storied” them, and to explore whether these ascribed identities truly represent their own experiences and potential. Both prospective and enrolled students can access the database and hear the stories of their peers, realizing that they are not alone in their struggles and challenges, hopes and fears. Moreover, using the database as a wealth of information for undertaking research demonstrates the synergies between the many missions of our campus. Students feel a strong sense of belonging when they see themselves as producers of knowledge: we can simultaneously retain and train them, building a sense of belonging as well as honing writing, analytical inquiry, and critical thinking skills.