This past February, the SLIS student chapter of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) was recognized as official student organization at the University of Alabama (UA), an action that has solidified the SAA-UA chapter. We reached out to the chapter president, current SLIS student Valeria Dávila Gronros, to get some insight and provide information for students who may be interested in joining.
1) What are the requirements for SAA-UA Student membership? Are there any fees or initiation processes?
The Society of American Archivists student chapter at the University of Alabama (SAA-UA), does not charge fees for membership. However, the SAA requires that all members of the SAA-UA chapter be either current SAA members, or become SAA members. The SAA membership for students is $55 annually, and the benefits can be seen here: https://www2.archivists.org/membership/student ”
2) How do you join SAA-UA and how regularly do you meet?
Interested students become a member of SAA-UA after attending one meeting. There is no additional requirement. However, for members that get involved in projects, the expectation is that they are present, engaged, and responsive through attending meetings, providing feedback, helping to promote the activities of the chapter, and respond to emails in a timely fashion.
3) What does SAA do? Any specific activism/community projects?
The SAA-UA chapter is a space for archival students to meet and support each other, and to collaborate on projects. The 2020-21 cohort has been working on several things since we started in Fall 2020:
- “We revived the chapter at UA, meaning, the chapter was operative (members continued to meet), but the chapter was inactive to UA since 2016. Reactivating it demanded an insane amount of paperwork and for the President (Valeria Dávila Gronros), Vice President, (Emily L. Reynolds), and Treasurer (Cory Driscoll) to complete a series of online training for new organizations.”
- They also revived the existing social media platforms, which are now populated with relevant archival-related content (we share publications from SAA naturally, but also opportunities for archives students, highlight community archiving initiatives, etc.) thanks to the Social Media Coordinator, Erin Brooks.
- SAA-UA now has a WordPress website for the chapter, thanks to current Vice President, Emily L. Reynolds.
- SAA-UA produced an instructional video answering the question “What is an Archivist?” Former SAA-UA Vice President, Rodney Lawley, produced the video, with the collaboration of other members of the chapter who provided their vocal talents.
- Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, SAA-UA launched its podcast, “Archives and Communities.” Producing a podcast is hard work, and they are thrilled to share this with both the student body at SLIS, and the archival community. SAA-UA was looking for projects to work on last semester with the chapter, and the idea came to Valeria after a class on community archives in Intro to Archives.
Valeria wanted to make a podcast on community archiving initiatives (defined broadly and loosely) across the US, proposed the idea, and the chapter loved it. The idea was for each member of the chapter to interview someone doing community archiving work, asking about their career path, their community archiving initiative, and their understanding of community archiving as a practice. The episodes have an oral history feel, where the narration, the voice, of the guest speaker (the person we are highlighting in that episode) is the protagonist––this was central to Valeria’s mission. The focus on diversity was also a key aspect, so SAA-UA members were encouraged to pick initiatives that had to do with their archival and professional passions and interests. As a Latina international student, Valeria is drawn to Latin America and to everything Latin American, so for the first episode, she interviewed Chicano librarian and educator Richard Chabran. Valeria excitedly explained, “There are so many great interviews coming! We’d love to invite all in the UA SLIS community to give the podcast a listen on YouTube, Anchor, or Spotify, and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.”
Links to the episode:
SAA-UA social media platforms:
4) Who do prospective students need to contact if they would like to become a member?
They can contact the chapter president, Valeria Dávila Gronros, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to these students for the hard work put into the revival of the SAA-UA chapter and becoming an officially recognized organization at UA. We are all excited to listen to the podcast series and will be sure to post links as soon as new episodes are released. Well done!