Bryn Mawr Strike Ends After 16 Days

The Collective ended the strike but left the student community with a statement on the need for continued activism.

Published on Nov. 20, 2020, by the Bi-Co College News.

After 16 days of boycotting campus jobs, classes, and extracurriculars, the Bryn Mawr strike has officially ended. Before ending the strike in the evening of Thursday, November 19, the Bryn Mawr Strike Collective (BMSC) graded President Kimberly Cassidy on her administration’s response to their demands. While the strikers did not achieve all demands, they made significant progress on several demands. The Collective ended the strike but left the student community with a statement on the need for continued activism.

The Ending of the Strike

In the evening of Monday, November 16, President Cassidy issued two emails: first, an apology email for a controversial November 9 email and second, the long-awaited response to strike demands. The email clearly stated, “I am in agreement with the areas for action laid out in the November 12 demands,” and offered a plan for a timeline of when those actions would be put in place. The strike organizers planned a “meeting with supportive faculty” on Monday, followed by two student town halls and a Wednesday night collective meeting to determine whether the strike would end. During the first town hall on Wednesday November 18, the Collective put out a “report card” on President Cassidy’s response. For each grade, the Collective gave an in-depth analysis of the benefits and deficiencies of each response, with grades ranging from A to F. Demands were marked on the ability to meet four criteria:

  1. A “comprehensive framework, timeline, budget, and coherent response”
  2. A clear statement on groups/ committees responsible for implementing demands
  3. Plans to revisit demands
  4. If a hard deadline, “a framework to meet the deadline for the demand.”

The Collective gave three demands an A, one demand a B, six demands a C, two demands a D, and three demands an F, for a total cumulative GPA of 2.3. However, the report card acknowledged that “we appreciate the work that was put into this response. … Though these grades are low, we gave the most honest and critical response possible to ensure the work is done effectively and efficiently.”

The Student Town Hall

At the Wednesday town hall, a student asked what the Collective would do if the administration was unwilling to budge on demands. The Strike Collective replied that the strike was only one part of a wider movement. “If we don’t get the thing(s) that we want … that will be the next step. That will also involve us and everyone who wants to be a part of that push.”

When a student asked if there could be a “back-and-forth” with the administration, the Collective replied that they “hope to keep collaborating.” They also emphasized the need to “adapt” their strategies for working with admin. “It doesn’t always need to be a constant back-and-forth in the same way it has been so far, especially if it is not in a way that is productive for us.”

In response to complaints in the chat about the impact of a lack of classes, one student discussed how her role in organizing the strike had made her miss internship deadlines. “I’m not calling you out. I’m asking you to hear me. … I hear you. And I feel it too.”

On Normalcy

As the strike concluded on the 19th, the Student Government Association put out two statements on behalf of the BMSC: a strike conclusion statement thanking students who stood by them and a document entitled “On Normalcy.”

In “On Normalcy,” the BMSC focused on the need for a disruption of normalcy and a continued trust in the collective. “We are not going back to ‘normal.’ … ‘Normal’ is the invisibility of our experiences on campus yet the exploitation of our work.” The Collective thanked students who had joined the strike and emphasized that “Through all we’ve experienced, our engagement with and trust in the collective has carried us … [and] we invite you to walk alongside us.”

The former Bryn Mawr Strike Collective announced its intention to continue on as the Black Student Liberatory Coalition (BSLC). In speaking to peers, the Collective asked that the community “remember that we, as students and as young people in this society, hold a lot more power than we think.” As put forth in her response to strike demands, President Cassidy plans to implement a transition team, which will work with students to continue implementing Strike Collective demands. In making that system achieve stated goals, BSLC asked students to continue to “to self-organize alongside us and to leverage their power in aid of this shared goal.”

On the evening of Friday, November 20, President Cassidy once again emailed the community to reiterate the Collective’s statements about normalcy, concluding: “I thank the Collective for their tireless work on behalf of transformation, and I ask us all now to turn to the work of meaningful action and change.”

Provost Tim Harte confirmed to faculty that the strike was over, using a screenshot from the BSLC Instagram. A professor would later send “On Normalcy” to faculty as well.

Achievements List

The BSLC listed the following among their achievements:

  • Annual funding of $100,000 for the Enid Cook ‘31 Center (ECC) to cover the salary of a full-time director position, the stipend of a paid student coordinator position, and the spending of campus-wide events hosted at the ECC.
  • Annual funding of $90,000 to cover scholarship taxes for international students.
  • The transformation of the Dean’s Emergency Fund into the Dean’s Student Assistance Fund and a doubling of the budget to $10,000.
  • The creation of “A Radical Imagination: The Bryn Mawr Strike Collective” fellowship with an initial budget of $10,000.
  • The creation of a new Student Success position to be hired with a salary of $60,000 to address the needs of DACAmented and Undocumented Students.
  • The removal of the M. Carey Thomas bust and portrait from Old Library.
  • A commitment to begin to implement universal design standards in curricular and co-curricular programs in spring 2021.
  • A revision to the College’s financial aid policy to ensure that paid fellowships no longer replace grants and compromise financial aid, to be implemented by the 2022–2023 school year.
  • A commitment to hire transformative justice experts to discuss the College’s relationship with law enforcement.
  • A review of the College’s endowment to determine investments related to the penal system and defense industry.
  • The administration of regular campus climate assessments.
  • An annual open forum on the College’s budget.
  • An impact survey to assess effectiveness of work being undertaken by the College.
  • If approved by the Curriculum Committee, a new distribution requirement focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion education and the impact of systemic hierarchies.
  • A revamped THRIVE program focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • A continuation of successful teach-ins to occur regularly throughout the semester.
  • A commitment to use a transformative justice framework to change College protocols around mental health crises.
  • A commitment to hiring external consultants and other positions to support and resource work undergone at the College.
  • An establishment of budgets for previously instituted policies and action items (such as those about institutional memory).
  • A commitment to working with students and the Anti- Racism Committee on the implementation of the new work taken on by the College.


Over the 16-day strike, the Collective has realized major changes in Bryn Mawr. With both the BMC strike and the 14-day strike at Haverford completed, the community turns to its next steps in continuing the push for long-lasting institutional change.