Alumnae take in the view from a bay window in the Gateway addition to the former Clarke House. The window will be in the waiting room of the Admissions Office.
Reunion 2000: 'Hey nonny, nonny,' and all that.
A celebration of May Day, first held at Bryn Mawr in 1900, gave Reunion 2000 added fun and pagentry. It was also a weekend of assessing past and present with an eye to the future. Alumnae crowded into the aisles of classrooms to hear lectures and panel discussions on these questions: Which U.S. political party will take control in November, how do preschool children learn about gender stereotypes, what is the future of higher education, and when will humans destroy the Earth.
The stakes in the up-coming U.S. elections are "about as high as any have been in the past 40 years for four reasons," according to Kathryn Roth-Douquet '86: 1) redistricting; 2) the retirement of possibly four Supreme Court justices, whose replacements could be either pro-life or pro-choice depending on who is elected president; 3) the direction of the House; and 4) the presidential election.
Roth-Douquet, who has worked in four presidential campaigns, was part of a panel discussion on Election 2000 moderated by Marissa Martino Golden '83, assistant professor of political science on the Joan Coward Professorship in Political Economics. Disagreement between Roth-Douquet and fellow panelist Eunice Strong Groark '60 over the nominating process sparked a lively debate.
Groark argued that U.S. elections drag on too long; voters lose interest and do not turn out. "Politics is like a piece of string," she said, recommending that the entire process be shortened, based on the British model, so that "it's a real horse race." Groark, former lieutenant governor of Connecticut, was elected on a third-party ticket with Lowell P. Weicker Jr. in 1990 and was a gubernatorial candidate in Connecticut in 1994. She also said that many voters are in effect disenfranchised because the primaries in their states take place long after one of the candidates has the nomination "in the bag," and suggested holding national primaries on one day rather than spread out over nine months before the November elections.
Roth-Douquet countered that the current nominating process is the most democratic way to select the president. Although the current campaign "marathon" is long and grueling, it ensures that presidential candidates spend a lot of time in the living rooms and coffee shops of ordinary Americans. Roth-Douquet, who worked with the Clinton/Gore Presidential Transition and Campaign, for the White House Presidential Advance, as and in the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale, Paul Simon and Michael Dukakis, noted that impressions formed on the campaign trail shaped the policy views of candidates with whom she has worked for years after the campaigns themselves were over.
The third panelist Susan Webb Hammond '54 surveyed election situations in the House and Senate. Professor of political science at American University, she has written widely on Congress and was a research director for the presidential campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie. "Presidential year dynamics affect congressional elections, which are very important this year," she said. "With the entire House and one-third of the Senate up for reelection, control of one or both chambers could shift. The arithmetic of open seats is important, as these are most likely to change parties. (It is generally very difficult to unseat an incumbent.) The House is more likely to change party control than the Senate as the Democrats only need six seats to take control, but it is still early in the election cycle; a lot can change by November."
Hammond noted that even if control of the House shifts, "governing will be very difficult because of such a small majority. The days of Lyndon Johnson from 1965-1966 with 295 to 140 in the House and 68 to 32 in the Senate are not likely to occur in 2000!"
"Typical in recent years is that one or both houses of Congress are controlled by a party different from that of the President," Hammond said. "Many pundits, observors, and political scientists think that a divided government leads to gridlock, but there is also evidence that major legislation gets passed even with a divided government. And there is polling evidence that U.S. voters rather like divided government, viewing it as a way to assure checks and balances."
A member of the audience asked panelists what each would prescribe for campaign reform, particularly ways to help more nonincumbents get elected. Groark put the responsibility back on voters. "Most people forget that voters are the fourth branch of government," she said. "We don't understand the power of our individual selves. Rally around the challenge or run yourself."
Hammond and Roth-Douquet agreed, with Hammond adding that free television time should be provided to candidates and Roth-Douquet calling for more frequent debates and use of the Internet.
'Men don't cry.'
Assistant Professor of Psychology Kim Cassidy reviewed research findings on gender differences in preschoolers in terms of their behavior, attitudes, and knowledge of stereotypes.
"Nothing that I'm telling you should surprise you," Cassidy said. "Those intuitions you have about what you're seeing at home are what we find when we study them in the laboratory." She showed several videos starring her son Ryan to demonstrate the methods of questioning preschoolers about their attitudes.
"I have to begin with a confession, which is that I am a total failure," Cassidy said. "I am a faculty professor, but I'm also a parent. A couple of months ago, my 4 1/2-year-old son and I were playing Star Wars. (How Star Wars came into my house is an entirely different story.) I was holding a Han Solo figurine; he had somehow gotten hurt, fallen out of his plane, and I was saying, "boo hoo hoo, boo hoo." My son stopped dead, looked at me and said, "Han Solo should not cry. He does not cry." I said, "What do you mean, Han Solo doesn't cry? He's hurt! He's crying!" And he said, "Oh no. Men don't cry. Ladies, little girls and little boys cry, but men do not cry." So I said, "Ryan, who told you that?" "I don't know," he said, "but it's the truth." And I said, "Well Dad cries. He doesn't cry a lot, but he cries." Ryan just looked at me and said, "Mom, just let Han Solo not cry, OK? Can we go back to playing now?"
Cassidy said that research shows children can discriminate between males and females at a very young age, from 9 months to 1 year, probably based on their perceptions of hair length and voice pitch. Starting at about 2 years old, they articulate gender stereotypes, show preferences for same-sex playmates and gender typical play (toy vehicles, tools, blocks and less supervised activities vs. dolls, dress-up, domestic activities, arts and crafts and teacher-structured activities). Factors such as novel situations or authority figures can promote atypical gender behavior, but stereotypical behavior only becomes more rigid as the child grows older.
While confirming that boys are more physically aggressive than girls, research shows that they are equal in terms of a broader definition of aggression that includes trying to hurt another's self-esteem, feelings or relationships with others.
Cassidy is particularly interested in children's books as sources for stereotyping. She notes that most research has been done on Caldecott medal winners and honor books or the top choices of Parenting magazine, which reflect efforts that began in the 1970s to represent females more equitably. In an initial study with her graduate students of books read to a sample of 45 preschoolers, Cassidy found not a single Caldecott and many pre-1970s books that portrayed more male characters overall, and more male than female characters in instrumental roles. Equal numbers of males and females, however, expressed different kinds of emotion. Cassidy has not yet ventured into the area of television viewing vs. books in the house, but suspects that commercials communicate gender stereotyping more than programming. As audience members agreed, imprinting of stereotypes from sources other than enlightened parents is immediate from birth and almost inescapable.
The Human Apocalypse
In a switch from millenarianism, Maria Luisa "Weecha" Busť Crawford '60, professor of science and environmental studies and professor of geology analyzed the "Human Apocalypse." Human-induced changes in the earth's environment include alterations in climate, land productivity, water resources, ocean and atmospheric chemistry, and ecological systems. While understanding the earth's future relies heavily upon learning from past events, the impact of human beings has no parallel in the geological or even historical past. This poses challenges that include understanding how the changes we cause affect and interact with earth systems and recognizing the consequences of these changes for the future. This lecture, along with class speeches, may be read online at www.brynmawr.edu/Alumnae/reunion00.overview.htm.
Among other lectures and presentations were an interfaith service led by The Reverend Wilifred Allen-Faiella '73, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, and Esther Reed '95, rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; a tour of campus walled gardens by Horticulturalist and Director of Grounds Robert E. Burton; and tours of the Gateway building and other renovations with Director of Facilities Services Glenn Smith; Assistant Director of Facilities Services, Project Planning and Design, Christopher Gluesing; and Facilities Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager Jim McGaffin.
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