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Preparing for our on-campus workshop

Anne Dalke's picture

From 2-3:15 on Friday, Nov 11, we'll be conducting an on-campus workshop in Rhoads Dining Hall. Jomaira, Sarah, Jody and Anne have come up w/ a "script" that involves an opening exercise, "mapping class on this campus," and a closing event, "looking forward." We've imagined opening by asking all participants to get into the spaces where we do our work, then asking them:
* where do you feel most yourself?
* how does this campus make you comfortable?
* what makes you feel that you belong?
* what space would you like to enter, that feels closed to you?

We've imagined closing by thinking forward:
* what space would you like here, that would make you more comfortable?
* what things could we do as individuals and as an institution to move forward w/ these ideas?

We heard in class on Thursday some of your responses to this proposal. Given what we've learned here so far, in our classes together, what (or what else) do you think we should do in this workshop we are hosting for others about  issues of class and education on campus? Please post your further thoughts about the workshop: feel free to put out your own ideas, and/or to respond to others; this is really where conversation happens (reminding ourselves here that we said we want to talk more w/ one another on-line!).


melal's picture

On campus workshop

I really like the idea about inviting people from different backgrounds, races, socio-economic classes to ensure it is a workshop based on diversity. By comparing different people’s answers and explanations to the same question, (for example, which is the place that makes you feel most comfortable on campus, etc.), can we not only know their personal preference, but also know where they can gain as sense of belonging. I believe that that after participating a series of activities, people will rethink their educational experience and what role they play during their educational experience (for example, an active student who participate a variety of clubs? A popular student who have more than a thousand facebook friends? or, maybe a student who always quiet and hardworking?)

Besides, I would also like to hear about how they value college experience. Is college certificate necessary for people who want to become successful? What kind of “atmosphere” (for example more serious and academic-inclined, or more political and social-inclined?) is helpful for students to feel comfortable? Basically, I would like to know more about people’s opinions about college and their personal experience in education, and how this experience shape their role in the following period of school time.

lijia577's picture

Comfortable conversation? To

Comfortable conversation?

To ensure the diversity of this workshop would not be very hard and we can hopefully hear the voice from different backgrounds and races and classes. However, I am worrying about whether people would feel safe and comfortable to share their stories and opinions. In which direction should we go when having a dialogue. Are we able to carry on a really open dialogue? Maybe some people really need courage to say the truth in front of so many people. For instance, maybe some feel that they are not really close to Bryn Mawr but they would oppress those negative comments simply because they don't want to be judged by others.  I think it might be a good idea to pre-determine some basic questions we want to know afterward while it would be nice to keep the openness of this large conversation.

Meanwhile, I am really curious about people's attitudes about liberal arts education, or maybe their attitude to Quaker spirit? Most of us are students here at Bryn Mawr, a liberal arts school, while only 5% people in this country go to liberal arts college. Is this a priviledge?
lissiem's picture

I think the on campus

I think the on campus workshop is such a great idea!  Has Bryn Mawr ever done something like this before? 

One thing that I've been thinking about since our discussion in class the other week, was how we're going to make people feel comfortable opening up and discussing class.  In our e-sem we all know each other, which makes a challenging conversation like this one a little easier.  Even so, our conversations go deep and are difficult sometimes.  How do we plan on producing an atmosphere that allows all sorts of people who do not know each other feel comfortable enough to share such a private matter? 

I'm also really curious to see what kind of turn out we get, of different classes and races.  Since this is an optional workshop, I'm interested to see if one type of person is more comfortable attending than another. 

Rae Hamilton's picture

An unique topic

I think focusing on the spaces in which we learn and live is a very important way at looking at things. I hope that we will be able to ask really thoughtful questions so that us as the interviewer and them as the interviewee both learn something new and that our initial thinking is pushed. 

Serena's picture

I find it interesting that

I find it interesting that the "script" focuses on what makes us feel comfortable and as if we belong as opposed to their inverses. I've been struggling with these ideas since I came to Bryn Mawr, as there a lot of ways in which I feel uncomfortable or as if I don't belong. However, I think that it is good that we focus on the positive - to emphasise ways in which we can feel "ourselves" and show that there are social resources available to us.

In this weekend's assignment - to invite people to come to the workshop - I feel very conflicted. There are a lot of people whom I'd like to invite but I do not know ways to go about asking them, as I am not close with many people on campus and feel that it might be awkward, as msolson said. I would really like to hear more from our dining staff: I work in Haffner and although the dining staff seem comfortable with some of the student workers, there is always an extent of separation between us.

One thing that I have recently thought is the importance of involving the socially "privileged" on campus - perhaps upper-level administrators - in our dialogue, though I don't know how feasible this is. I would really love to hear what, for example, the workers responsible for admissions would have to say about our ideas in class and in the workshop.

meggiekate's picture

Like Serena, I also find that

Like Serena, I also find that the “script” of the workshop focuses on comfort levels and a sense of belonging in various spaces on campus very interesting and I think there’s a lot of risks associated with this. I’m really interested in finding out how much of an influence socioeconomic class is with comfort levels on campus because I think a lot of other things might influence that more, such as their class year, who they know around campus, and possibly how many people they know. 

HSBurke's picture

Serena,  I'd also like to


I'd also like to hear from those who are higher up on Bryn Mawr's totem pole. I'd especially be interested to see the responses/feelings of those who work on marketing and advertising for Bryn Mawr. I'm wondering what spaces on campus Bryn Mawr chooses to display in brochures and admissions packages. Being that these items are being sent off to a variety of people, you would think that we choose to present the college as a space that is welcoming to all. But as we've seen, that's not neccessarily true. I'd like to know the reasoning behing the picking of specific images that are commonly marketed, or if there was any reasoning at all. Then we could hear the avertising employees' own preferences and see if they match up with what they display of Bryn Mawr to the world. It would also be interesting to see if there was a common place where the majority of the attendees felt comfortable. We could them compare what makes this space accessible to all and how we can create more areas like it. Then, looking/hearing about brochures, we could see if this space was one that was presented to prospective students. 

nbnguyen's picture

On-campus workshop

I love the idea about an on-campus workshop in campus. In most of my classes, even in social science classes, I just learn about the society through my readings. My perspective about the world is created by collecting people's ideas. However, I am not very confident with that because people's points of view may be biased and there are too many assumptions. Furthermore, I always question myself as a learner, when can I go beyond, step away from the collection of ideas to create something on my own. By carrying an on-campus workshop, I can actually collect the information by myself and see what is really happening in real life.

I love Shannon's ideas about the workshop. Learning about people's situations is not enough. We need to ask ourselves: "What can we do about it?" She made me realize that we do research not only because we want to know, but because we want to improve the situation. Furthermore, I think besides asking people questions that Anne mentioned above, we should classify people to see how different groups of people react differently with class and education (e.g. variables may include race, nationality, age -preference may change overtime). When we propose some solutions, our solutions should be specific with each group of people. It's hard to find solutions that satisfy and improve the whole college community.

aogiarrata's picture

I agree with gfeliz that it

I agree with gfeliz that it would be interesting in the work shop to have a bunch of people from different classes and races. It would bring a lot of different views into the workshop. I think a goal of the workshop is to try to make it a "safe space" where everyone can speak their minds on what they think of class and etc. I'm not sure how this would hapen but its worth a try to make it a comfortable space for everyone especially maybe the shyer people. I think most of the events should be something that everyone has to participate in to keep the talk active and interesting.

gfeliz's picture

On-Campus Workshop

Like some have already said, I think it would be extremely beneficial to have many people of different backgrounds, races, socio-economic classes, and so on. I know that I am going to try and invite my housekeeper (from Rhoads South 3rd), Dawn, to our discussion. Like Darlene, she is a very loving woman. A girl on my hall recently had pneumonia and she gave her a care package and came by her room everyday to make sure she was doing ok. I think it would be very interesting to hear some of the voices of people who I do not necessarily interact with everyday such as Public Safety, the custodial staff, etc. I think that by having these difficult conversations we can help spark deeper ideas and conversations that we can have in the future.


One question that I really like is the question of “who’s ‘allowed’ in certain places, where do they feel comfortable? Intruding?” I think that from writing Essay #9, I have realized a lot of things about space on Bryn Mawr’s campus. To me, I feel as though space is accessible to everyone who is a student at Bryn Mawr. But I feel like it is different for people who work at Bryn Mawr/outsiders. I think that that’s when permission is needed from people who own the space; otherwise it would be considered “intruding”. I would like to hear the opinions of people who aren’t students—maybe workers feel uncomfortable when they have to enter a student’s room to fix something, maybe it’s a sense of intruding even though they were given permission? I just think that this is a very interesting question and something that the discussion should focus on because to me, it has to deal with a lot of what we just wrote our essays on (space). 

Hummingbird's picture

The question of inclusion

The question of inclusion versus exclusion really interests me as well. I've recently focused on these feelings within dorm buildings, but I think they should also be considered in regards to the grounds – areas that are technically public, but perhaps more exclusive than we (as students) might at first think. Msolson made a great point about inviting people on campus who are don't work or study here full-time. Hearing from people who are only temporarily here would be a really great learning opportunity. I don't know if this is allowed, but perhaps we could invite a member of the Bryn Mawr (town) community who visits campus regularly to jog or walk their dog, but otherwise has little or no connection with the school? I think it would be good to get an outsider's perspective on the school and hear any assumptions they may have regarding class at BMC.

My only worry is that because Friday is Veteran's Day, some people may not be able to attend (because they have a day off, or they have young children that don't have school – as was the case with my housekeeper). 

Michaela's picture

I agree with what you said

I agree with what you said here. I think that having people from all over campus will be really beneficial in hearing what people who work in different capacities have to say about their feelings about Bryn Mawr, its students, faculty, and staff, and how class manifests itself here (and outside of the "Bryn Mawr Bubble"). As I was walking back from class on Thursday, I saw a few groundskeepers working planting sod outside of the back door of Rock, my dorm, where for weeks there has been construction and perilous weather that has sort of destroyed our grass. I wonder how these people fit into our Bryn Mawr community, and how they view it--they are not permanent fixtures on campus, but rather sent in by outside companies after the college has hired them to do specific work. I wondered the same about the construction workers who, (to the best of my knowledge) were not members of the Facilities staff, but rather outside workers. I wish that I could invite them to the event, but I think I shied away from asking when I saw the men planting sod outside of the door because I felt like it was just a little too awkward. I wonder how I can work to overcome this discomfort?

Also, in regard to the question of who is "allowed", which I think I may have brought up in class, I think that this is a really important issue in terms of who feels welcome where. I witnessed this up close when I had to call Public Safety on Friday to let me into my room when my roommate locked me out accidentally. The officer came, and I had to go into my room to get my school ID to prove that it was, in fact, my room. But as I headed in to grab it, I realized that the Public Safety officer was likely not permitted to cross the threshold of my doorway unless there was an emergency in the room itself. I understand that some of this may be a comfort thing, or possibly a legal issue (?) but I did find myself feeling bad that I had to let the door close on him while I grabbed my keys from my desk. What does this say about the Bryn Mawr community? I'd like to possibly invite a Public Safety officer to attend the workshop to see what he/she has to say.

JHarmon's picture


In many respects, I have no idea how next Friday's visit will go. Will the students love Bryn Mawr? Will we turn them off to our environment? I suppose that in part, we cannot control the reactions of the students. Whether they like Bryn Mawr and the world of college or not, I simply hope that they have greater understanding of themselves, and we all have a greater understanding of each other, by the time they leave. To begin, I think we've already made a great start by sharing our passions with each other this week on the DiaBlog. I really want a chance to connect with the students when they are here, and by finding connections with each other, we'll all find comfort in the fact that we're all similar in some ways (or interested in how we differ). As far as the actual visit on Friday, I have a much more ambiguous idea of what's to come. I would love to show the students around our campus and share experiences about how we've coped with occupying the space here, but I also think its important that the Parkway kids have a chance to share they're experiences as well. Maybe we could verbally revisit our access maps, too? I think that in the end, it is most important that we make connections with the students and discuss how it's possible to occupy any space we come across if we really want to.  

Chandrea's picture

E-Sem Workshop Suggestions

I really like Mfon's questions about the dorm room competition: "How does the campaign for best dorm room and the price attached promote class distinctions on campus? Can economically challenged students participate in such a contest and what is the criteria for determining the best room, decorations - which cost money or just neatness?" I never thought about that. I was thinking about entering my room into the contest just because of all the decorations (I didn't think I'd win or anything) but because my room is a place where I can display my creativity. Now, I don't have chaise lounges or lace curtains but I do think my room has what it takes to considered in the competition even though I didn't spend a ton of money on decorations. That competition is a perfect example of a jumping off point for one of our many discussions at this workshop.

Besides talking about how space illustrates class distinctions, I'd really like to hear some more discussion about the tension between student workers and non-workers. I enjoyed the short discussion we had in class about it, and I think the only reason I got so excited/passionate about the topic is because I realize that it needs to be addressed. And I don't think we should exclude other workers on this campus. They'd probably have a ton to contribute to the discussion too!

meggiekate's picture

I am also really interested

I am also really interested in exploring the tensions between not just those who are student non-workers here and those who are student workers, but also include those who just work on campus in the mix. Those who are just students pay to be here. Those who just work on campus are paid to be here. Those who are students and who also work on campus have their feet in both worlds. I think it would also be interesting to look into the starting salaries/hourly wages each department on campus. Personally, as a student who works on campus, I have felt caught, trying to keep up with schoolwork and working enough to contribute financially to my education now and save for my future tuition payments. Many times, I’ve found myself trying to balance my academic life, my work life, and my social life and it just not working out because there’s not enough time for everything. 

Utitofon's picture

workshop suggestions

As part of the barometer game; we can ask people to rate Bryn Mawr in answer to the following questions;

  • How racially diverse is Bryn Mawr(students)/(faculty)/(staff)? Immediately following that with why do you rate it high or low? If you rate it low, how can that be changed? People can write their suggestions in anonymous pieces of paper which we can collect and collate as post forum data.
  • How does the campaign for best dorm room and the price attached promote class distinctions on campus? Can economically challenged students participate in such a contest and what is the criteria for determining the best room, decorations - which cost money or just neatness?
  • How much time do you spend with people who do not share your economic, educational, national background? Do you only share class space with them and nothing else? How can you improve on that?
  • The audience may also be given some minutes maybe 10, to bring up personal issues/observations related to class that bother them so they are not only restricted to commenting on the questions we have for them.
ssaludades's picture

On-Campus Workshop

It's interesting to understand the sense of where people belong. Different people utilize the space differently and thus, different spaces hold different meanings. One very prominent separation is the divide between the work and the residence space. For some people, the space in which they work feels liberating (Pem Arch  & the library) because work itself is liberating to them; however, for others work is an obligation and burden, and thus, the space is a place of stress. To this regard, I think it is important for us to realize the meanings of spaces for different people and maybe, question ourselves to imagine what our space of comfort means to different people and how other people view our space in which we don't find comfort in. In this way, we may enlighten each other of what we either have too much or too little priviledge to realize another meaning.

Overtime, the meanings of things also change. When we return to reading an old children's book such as Harry Potter or Goodnight Moon, we look at it with new eyes and uncover a different meaning because our views have changed since childhood. Likewise, when we move from our homes to Bryn Mawr, we look at different spaces with different eyes. A library, living space (dormroom), eating space (Erdman) may not hold the same meaning at Bryn Mawr than it does in our hometowns because of the different cultural environments. I think if we are able to talk about this as well, we will be able to recognize how the class values in our environment influence the interactions and feelings that unfold in our lives.

S. Yaeger's picture

In thinking about this, my

In thinking about this, my biggest hope for this meeting is that we can begin to open up a larger coversation about class on campus.  As the semester has progressed, I have become very aware of the fact that class is not really discussed here, and I think that it really ought to be.  My hope is that these conversations will not only helo us understand each other better in terms of backgrounds, but also help us get a feel for how others wish to be treated and viewed.  For example, one of our classmates wrote about not knowing how to act around the custodial staff, and I am hoping that our workshop will give them the chance to let us know how they would like us to interact with them.  For example, would they like us to keep them company and chat while they work, or would they prefer we make ourselves scarce?  I'm also curious about whether or not they are allowed to take classes at the college, as the staff at many colleges are, and how they feel about that.  I am interested in finding out how those who don't have to work, and who come from wealthy backgrounds, feel about how they are percieved on campus.  the questions I have are kind of limitless, and I hope that our workshop will help me focus them as it creates new questions.

meggiekate's picture

            I also hope that

            I also hope that this on-campus workshop will open up a discussion about class with a larger group on campus. At the same time though, we are limiting our group to about 90 people out of the couple thousand people on campus daily. I understand that this is workshop is a start, but to me it feels like the college has been trying to start a larger conversation about class for a little while now with the "Class Dismissed?" series. However, it hasn't seemed to generate a lot of general interest and it doesn't seem like the college is putting that much effort into advertising and hyping up the series like it is with, for example, Judith Butler coming and speaking on campus. I know that Jomira and Sarah mentioned in class on Thursday that the college really wants this workshop to happen and go well, but based on my very limited experience at Bryn Mawr so far, that just does not seem to be the case. And even if the college does want to encourage conversations and awareness about class, I do not see much interest in that among students outside of this class.

            I think that class actually is discussed quite a bit here, just not explicitly! When I hear some girls around campus talk about where they go shopping, how they pay for things (usually parents' or grandparents' credit cards), and the size of their rooms at home (or their various homes), the underlying thing they're talking about is class. Either consciously or unconsciously, they are telling their fellow classmates their class by talking about their class markers. I think having an equal blend of economic backgrounds at the workshop is very important so I’m hoping to invite one of these people who I’ve heard discussing these topics to the workshop. I hope that the workshop will help expose her to some of the class issues on campus that she might be blind to due to her class status. I think part of the goal of this workshop is to bring to the forefront a truer sense of class issues on campus and those issues (or at least the perception of those issues) are different for people from different classes. Of course, another goal of this workshop is to come up with ways to improve/equalize the campus and I think we’ll be able to come up with the most effective ways if all socioeconomic classes are represented equally. 

snatarajan's picture

I definitely agree with this

I definitely agree with this point and I feel like this workshop can be the first step in the right direction. Before this ESem, I don't really know how I felt about the discussion of class in public spaces, aside from the fact that I felt as though it is treated as a "sensitive" subject, something that should be avoided, in order maintain respect and "political correctness". A few weeks into the semester, however, I quickly realized that I felt comfortable with the students in our class to discuss the various issues that I may have otherwise been hesitant to approach. Through the "Mapping Your Access to Education" activity, I really feel like the conversation about class, background, and education access in each of these regards, began to unfold. My hope, similar to yours, is that everyone who ends up at the workshop really realizes that it is okay to talk about class and that they can, through the various discussions, identify with how they play a role on campus in participating in and mediating that discussion.

thamid's picture

Hey Shannon! I like your idea

Hey Shannon!

I like your idea of opening up the conversation to the campus, and not letting it go ignored, but what really caught my attention was the sentences about the custodial staff. In my experience, our housekeeper on Pem West third, Darlene, is like a second mother. She will always give you a hug when you are in a bad mood, or really just want a hug. She is always willing to have a nice chat with you. A simple, “Hi sweetheart, have a great day!” can mean so much to me. From this point of view, Darlene loves to chat while working rather than having us keep to ourselves.

I really hope to get a well-rounded group of students, faculty, and staff for our workshop. With different backgrounds and different personalities, I hope to have different views of class. With these different views, I hope people start to open up and see what type of role class plays here at Bryn Mawr and see it as something that needs to be addressed. I also want people to leave with questions unanswered, the way we leave our Esem with these questions. With unanswered questions, thinking beyond what one already knows will occur, and discussion outside the classroom will occur in order to try and answer these questions. My hope is for the workshop to continue after 3:15.

JHarmon's picture

Where can we occupy?

I completely agree with this idea about creating a larger discussion about class on campus. It's interesting that the topic for the year is "Class Dismissed" at Bryn Mawr, yet I have heard almost nothing about the series or class here on campus from the general student body. What is more disheartening, however, is that I see areas where our campus could really benefit from these discussions.


For instance, when I invited one of our dorms housekeeper's to Friday's workshop, she initially agreed. However, the next day, she politely declined. When I asked why, she told me that she was “just a housekeeper” and the classroom was never really her thing. She also mentioned that she didn't feel comfortable in a classroom. To me, she seemed intimidated to occupy a space that she didn't “belong” to. While I respected her decision not to participate, I couldn't help but think that this is exactly what the workshop is about—breaking those barriers between the spaces we believe we can/can not occupy. I really wish that she could have made it out on Friday, but more than this, I wish that we could find real solutions to these problems so that we don't have to see ourselves as “just students” or “just housekeepers.” 

jccohen's picture

class brainstorm for on campus workshop

On campus workshop brainstorm:

Let’s do more of not knowing, so people are questioning themselves after the workshop, questioning structures, economics, etc.

 Let us have open dialogue about fact that people are coming from different backgrounds, class distinctions do exist, and regardless of this people—it’s a step up that people are talking about it.  It’s a process.

 I’ll be interested in question of who’s ‘allowed’ in certain places, where do they feel comfortable?  Intruding?

 What do people from different races think about themselves, e.g. do people think they are inferior or have disadvantages?

Helpful for participants to reflect on their past educational experiences in relation to class issues we’re discussing.

What people hope to gain from their workshop—why did they say hes?

Good to talk with people we don’t usually talk with so you get new perspectives.

I’m interested in different stigmas related to class, e.g. those who do or don’t have to work.  Want to hear how people view this.

Ways to alleviate some of the class tensions.