Sophomore Zariah Chiverton sees classes as a vital way to educate UR’s student body about the existence of the burial ground, she said.
Chiverton cannot remember how she first found out about the burial ground, but she learned more about it through her fellowship with the Race and Racism Project this summer, she said.
“I just don't think there was enough [discussion] when news broke of it,” Chiverton said. “It just seemed like we heard about it and then that was it, like nothing came after that. And so I think a lot of people just aren't updated on what is actually going on.”
The Burial Ground Memorialization Committee, founded by Crutcher and comprising multiple members of faculty and staff, held three virtual conversations last year on Oct. 12, 20 and 28 for faculty, staff and students to discuss how the burial ground should be commemorated, according to a SpiderByte published Oct. 2.
Strong attended one of the sessions because he wanted to learn more about the burial ground, he said.
“[UR’s administration] really emphasized the importance [of] or desire for student feedback,” Strong said. “And [I realized] that I might as well bring in my own input to at least make sure there's at least one student perspective there.”
Strong noticed that not many students were present at the Oct. 28 discussion, he said.
“I understand that some people may not have been able to go because of scheduling conflicts,” Strong said. ”But I do wish if they were able to go, people would go. If nothing else to at least learn more about this, even if they didn't necessarily have any new or urgent thoughts about it.”
Despite efforts to inform the student body about the burial ground information, the student body still appears to have gaps in its knowledge.
Junior Mia Dini, who learned about the burial ground through her involvement in Westhampton College Government Association, noticed that people she knew outside of WCGA did not seem as knowledgeable about the burial ground, she said.
Dini has had very few discussions about the history of UR outside of her involvement in WCGA, she said. Dini attributed this lack of discussions about UR history to the fact that she was a psychology and computer science major, and these topics are not typically discussed in these classes in her experience, she said.
“I feel like it's still not super known about, and I feel like it's important that people know the land that they're on,” Dini said.
While Yates thought most first-years knew about the burial ground because of the orientation video, Enright and Peric didn’t think many people knew about it, they said.
Strong acknowledged that UR had been making an effort to educate students about the burial ground, but also said he thought UR could do more.
“A lot of people I’m friends with or know about have at least a passing awareness or know at least as much as I do about it,” he said, “and some of them are definitely kind of more involved with it or at least found out before I did. So, I don't think it's totally unknown, but I don't think it's as widely known as it could be.”
Chiverton said it was not enough that students knew there is a burial ground. In addition to the recognition of Westham Burying Ground, university administration should offer courses that focus on the history of UR, Chiverton said.
“If I were to bring it up in conversation I wouldn't be surprised if other people don't know about it,” Chiverton said. “And it seems like for a lot of people that have heard about it, that's it. They know that it’s there.”
Chiverton believes that the knowledge of Westham Burying Ground cannot end with its discovery.
Driskill and Lee are continuing their research, they said.
Contact news editor Jackie Llanos at firstname.lastname@example.org and international editor Susanna Getis at email@example.com. Photos by visual editor Ben Wasserstein.