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Institutional standpoint on identity and access

lcastrejon's picture

When considering identity and access from the standpoint of an institution, it can vary depending on the institution’s mission and policies. For instance, there are some institutions that only focus on certain careers such as, liberal arts colleges vs. technical schools. Meanwhile, there are other institutions that only offer a single sex education instead of a co-education. It is because of these differences that shape an institution’s mission and policies therefore explaining why the standpoint of an institution would vary when it comes to identity and access. In order to give a better idea on how identity and access of a person can be affected by the standpoint of an institution, I will focus on Bryn Mawr College.


Bryn Mawr College (BMC) is known to be one of the seven sister colleges which, were the first institutions to be created to provide a higher education for women. The original intent of the seven sister colleges has changed since its creation and what I mean by “original intent” is that even though BMC and the other sister schools were created for the purpose of educating women, these schools did not start off educating just any woman, their services were only offered to wealthy White women. Knowing this fact, it is safe to say that one’s identity and access to an education was very precise from a women’s institution’s standpoint. In other words before scholarships/financial aid and the civil rights movement came into play, these institutions like BMC most likely only accepted White women coming from a wealthy socioeconomic status.


In my opinion, race and class were among the first aspects in one’s identity that affected one’s access to an education due to institutional policies. I wouldn’t say that these two aspects are no longer an issue that takes place today, however it can be said that since then, other identity aspects have come into question. As time has gone on, our world has modernized in a way that academic institutions are questioned with new kinds of challenges that aren’t just black or white like they were back in the day. For instance, BMC’s admissions policy has recently been questioned by a group of alumnae as well as current BMC students on the guidelines a person must follow (when it comes to their sex/gender) in order to gain admittance to the institution. Unlike race and socioeconomic class, a more complex aspect of identity (sex/gender) has been brought up to the forefront for institutions to consider when shaping its mission and policies.


Over time, BMC’s standpoint has changed along with history such as, providing scholarships/financial aid to those coming from different economic backgrounds and providing admittance to those who identify as a different race/ethnicity other than or that is not White. It can be acknowledged that this progress for change is not an act that can be done overnight. However, with the challenge that BMC is currently undergoing in terms of its admissions policies concerning transgendered students it can be seen that BMC has responded back to the group of people that have called their policies into question which, shows (at least to me) that they acknowledge this concern and will see how to move forward.