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‘Edit-a-thon’ highlights black alumni and faculty

| Thursday, March 3, 2016

Students, staff, faculty and members of the South Bend community will gather Friday at 6 p.m. at the Notre Dame Arts and Culture Center to research, write and publish the stories of Notre Dame black faculty and alumni on Wikipedia.

Visiting assistant librarian Kai Smith organized the “edit-a-thon.”

“The ND Black Lives Matter [event] is a Wikipedia edit-a-thon that I’ve decided to put together to highlight the notable black alumni and faculty here at the University of Notre Dame,” she said. “Some of the people they’ll be featuring are current faculty, including some from the Africana Studies department: Richard Pierce, Dianne Pinderhughes and a number of different athletic alumni, like Dave Duerson.”

Smith and some of her colleagues will be on site to support participants with technical issues, research and writing.

“We’ve done a lot of the research beforehand, intentionally, because it is only two hours, so we wanted to take that component out a bit,” Smith said. “We’ve done research to help them jump off, so they’re not completely researched, but it’s enough to get them started.”

Some members of the Black Faculty and Staff Association — who are co-sponsoring the event with Hesburgh Libraries — have also been trained by Smith so they can plan and oversee these kind of events in the future.

“The idea for this is to, hopefully, start something that will go on again,” Smith said. “I’m trying to teach people how to do these types of events. I’ve been involved with a number of people throughout the community to help them do edit-a-thons since last spring. There was one on South Bend, there was one at the Civil Rights Heritage Museum.”

Smith organized another edit-a-thon last spring that was centered around the New York organization, Art+Feminism. According to Smith, Wikipedia is “notorious for having editors who are mainly white males.” She said events like the ND Black Lives Matter edit-a-thon are important to encourage people to participate in that culture.

“This event is going to hopefully encourage  people to become editors from a diverse background — male and female and from diverse communities,” Smith said. “I’m also trying to empower people, not only here at Notre Dame, but within the whole community, to highlight these ideas and people within our community and uplift them and empower them to understand the process that involves research.”

Smith said she’s hopeful that edit-a-thons will gain traction in the Notre Dame community. According to her, a few faculty members even approached her about incorporating the process into their class curriculums.

“It’s pretty easy to do, so it’s interesting to see how it can grow in the community,” she said. “I’m really excited about this and I really do hope that it spreads. I never expected that people would be so interested. I know things take time to grow, so hopefully I’ve planted the seeds to make that happen here at Notre Dame.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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