USU archivist discussed opioid addiction at Snow College’s Convocation last week
By Benjamin Thornberg
EPHRAIM— Randy Williams, an oral history specialist with Utah State University’s Special Collection and Archives, came to the Snow College Convocation Series last Thursday to talk about the rising problem of opioid addiction.
As an archivist, she discussed how she might help resolve this problem.
“I feel like Snow College positioned me to be an advocate.” Williams said in her opening statement. “To help me speak up when something didn’t resonate with me.”
Williams makes a clear importance of the ability of history to teach us. She herself wants to make it possible for people of today to share their voice and experiences. As an archivist, Williams wants people not to just share their stories, but become part of the movement to fix different issues that are part of today’s society. In that vein, Williams encourages others to become activists on issues they are connected to.
Williams explained her project with opioid drug addiction. Williams stated Utah was the seventh highest state for opioid abuse and addiction; considering Utah’s relatively low population, Williams said this is a big problem. This was first brought to her attention by a man Andrew Dupree, who approached Williams during the Cache Valley Oral History project that took place at the Logan Library. Dupree told her of Cache Valley’s drug court and claimed this group needed a voice to share and an ambition to work for. Enthusiastic about the idea, Williams took this to the board of curators who accepted the proposal.
“Maybe what this is about is finding out ways to curve that problem.” Williams said.
In this case the voice of the recovering opioid addicts is of vital importance to bringing further light to that subject and through the community this issue can be faced with more educated individuals who wish to play a role in that domain.
“This idea of autonomy is giving autonomy to the people who help with these societal changes,” she said. It’s important to gain perspective of culture diversity and listen to the people. Williams refers to this idea as cultural diversity lens. William’s herself had little knowledge of drug court and recovery until beginning the Cache Valley recovery project, which now has over ten counties supporting it.
Randy William’s work expands from a Folklore Archives Curator to Oral History Specialist as well as directing the USU’s community fieldwork projects. She also is a board member of the Folklore society of Utah and the chair for the Utah Humanities Board of Directors.