GV encourages students to join “COVID Journaling Project: GVSU Archives”


Courtesy / GVSU

Haileigh Huber

Grand Valley State University is rolling out a new initiative where they’re asking students to respond to a prompt about the ways COVID-19 has impacted them. The postcards and responses that students fill out will be preserved and added to a digital collection for future students and faculty to understand this time the community is living in.

Anna Benefiel, University Archivist and Digital Collections Librarian, is one of the members who oversees the university’s history collection and preservation. This project gives students the option to remain anonymous and already has about 90 participants and 400 entries — and they are still expecting more. 

COVID-19 has become one of the most historically significant events in the past decade and this project will help people get a sense of what it was like during this time.

“Having these archives will help future students to connect with their historical counterparts,” said Benefiel. 

Not only does this project give others an inside look into this part of history, but it also provides current students a place to express their thoughts and feelings about how COVID-19 has impacted them. 

“These archives are shining a light on all of the inequalities that we are facing in our society and how students are dealing with these changes,” said Benefiel. 

Benefiel noted that the personal nature of journaling among students helps this project show the broader community’s take on COVID-19. Journaling allows students to reflect on their experiences in an authentic way. 

“Hopefully, future students will read these archives and look at their own experiences in life and compare it to how things were during this time,” said Benefiel. 

These archives are documenting history and making an effort to bring the GVSU community together. The project ties together the experiences of GVSU students and unites them into a collaborative project.

“These archives will give fellow students a sense of belonging in their community and see that other students are going through what they are,” said Benefiel. 

The archives allow faculty members to see their student’s perspectives on how they are dealing with the new ways students communicate, work, and interact with the educational system. 

GVSU wanted to figure out a way to capture this time in history, and this project gives students a platform to express the challenges they have faced and the ways they are coping. Future students can now see how GVSU’s community came together to try and ease the stresses that students were facing during this time. 

“These archives will allow future students to create a personal connection to people’s day-to-day life during this time,” said Benefiel.