Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Thoughts on the Workshop

HSBurke's picture

At one point during our group discussion, we were asked to identify a time in which we noticed class divides at Bryn Mawr. I decided to talk about my experience working at Wyndham: oftentimes, I have been snapped at (literally), snubbed, flat out ignored or just plain mistreated by the customers whom I am serving. I have recently begun to notice a connection between these particular patrons: they are old, wealthy (judging by clothes/conversations) upper-crust women. After telling my story, one of my group members, a McBride scholar, said very bluntly, "Well you can't change the ways of a stuck-up Main Line lady." While at the time I agreed, I couldn't help but think after: why not? The forum that we conducted demonstrated our ability to get a variety of different people together to talk about class. And in my opinion, this was a successful conversation. Although it is not really our place to try and "fix" the attitudes of classist people, it is not altogether impossible to enlighten them and bring them into a conversation. What my group member said may be true, but if we don't start from the ground up to educated people on the effects and class and the divisions that still exist, we will always be plagued by a generation of 80 year old Main Line ladies. And speaking from experience, this is not something to aim for. After witnessing the success of our smallish group discussion, I think it would be interesting to invite the community into Bryn Mawr to join us and have a conversation. Although it would be a huge undertaking, I believe the results would definitely be worth it. 

*If anyone else thinks this would be a good/valid/possible idea, let me know!


S. Yaeger's picture

Wow.  I have so much to say

Wow.  I have so much to say about this.  First, I can totally relate to how you feel about the way some of the customers at Wyndham treat you.  I've definitely been there, and it is not fun at all, especially because there is this assumption that you are lower class than they are, or less educated, just because you are in a service position.  It really sucks and I am sorry that you are being treated that way.  I'd like to tell you that I've figured out a graceful way to deal with it when it as happened to me, but the truth is that I often work through it by thinking less than kind things.  

Second, I'm a little torn about the McBride's statement about how you can't change a stuck up main line woman, because it could be true that, at 80, a person won't be willing to change, but I also think that her statement has a lot of embedded assumptions in it as well.  At the very least, it seems a little dismissive toward you as I read it now.  

Third, and most importantly, I think that change is possible, and that discussions like the one we had on Friday are a good first step.  I'm not sure if we are at a point where bringing the community at large into our discussion would be fruitful, because I think the Bryn Mawr College community still has a ways to go, but I like the idea of that being an end goal.  Maybe one way to start a larger conversation is for us to be aware of how we interact with people who work in town.  (This is not to say that I think many of us don't do this already)  I have known any people who have worked service possitions on Lancaster Ave who have felt the same way you do when yoou are serving those old women.  I wonder if we could start an on campus discussion on how to be served, without treating the person serving you like a servant.