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Illuminating Identities Moving Forward

kcweiler20's picture

I absolutely loved the project Emma and I completed on non-binary and trans students fitting in at a historically all-women’s college. I feel like the topic is very important and often overlooked within the community, and I am so glad we took on the ambitious task and came out on the other side with some very interesting information. I know I met so many people who I otherwise might not have ever spoken to because of this project, and that is an incredible aspect of my experience.

We might carry this forward by speaking to administration about our findings, relaying the challenges and possible changes our interviewees brought up, to make those in charge of the College aware that these groups need more visibility, both on campus and in the College’s correspondence with the rest of the world, most prominently Bryn Mawr’s social media presence and website. We would also relay our concerns about staff training regarding gender identities and inclusive language, and student education on those topics as well. The findings of this project, that Bryn Mawr needs to be an inclusive and safe space for all students, should be shared with administration, staff, and students alike in order to put forth a community effort towards change. What Emma and I are in the process are doing now is typing out all of the responses we got from our peers after our presentation, and beginning to compile a comprehensive list of possible next steps for making a change in this aspect of the Bryn Mawr community.

The range of presentations I watched in class were all incredibly well done. While none, including my own, came to a single conclusion on the contact zone explored, each complexified the issues at hand and humanized them through interviews, surveys, and conversations in class. These presentations taught me that there is not one, nice answer or solution for everything, but that is okay. What we did, collectively, by completing these projects and challenging ourselves resulted in interesting, thought-provoking, and question-raising conversations, and that is all we could ask for in order to truly learn something and grow as individuals.

A final thought about the past six weeks, culminating in our presentations this week: because we were tasked with examining contact zones at Bryn Mawr, places where different people collide (usually, in a negative way), most of the outcomes of our projects had much to do with what needs to change here on campus, often with administration and student climate. What we need to remember, coming out of these six weeks, is that while we, as a community, have a lot to work on and improve on, this community is also the kind of place where a class would have us do this project and explore these difficult, and often complex, contact zones embedded in its own roots. This is a pretty remarkable thing, and we have to remember that while things do need to change in some areas, this college, where social justice, activism, and involved research are paramount, is a pretty great place to be.