The following letter was sent by President Cassidy and Dean Jennifer Walters to students on August 22, 2016.
As we ready for the new academic year, we are mindful that this summer brought new waves of violence in the U.S. and around the world rooted in complex and varied histories of discrimination, power, fear, and hate. Some of you have contacted us to express both your distress and your desire to be agents of change. We seek to partner with students throughout the year to advance Bryn Mawr’s commitments to equity and inclusion and to offer structures and consulting/ support for student initiatives.
World and campus events affect members of our community deeply, yet we seldom stop to recognize this together. This semester we will begin a weekly series of "open space" conversations in our effort to engage with the impact and significance of these events as they arise. To begin, Dean Walters will convene these conversations on Wednesdays at noon in the Dorothy Vernon Room. Participants are welcome to bring their lunch, either from the adjacent New Dorm Dining Hall or brown-bag. We hope that these gatherings will become opportunities for members of the Bryn Mawr community to give voice to their experience and listen to one another.
In an effort to provide students with additional skills to make change in the world, the Civic Engagement Office will offer a grassroots organizing workshop this fall featuring community activists from the Philadelphia area. Please look for more information from the CEO on dates, times, and other details.
A new student-led initiative will also begin this fall, Dialogue on Race, modeled after a long-standing community program in Louisiana (www.dialogueonracelouisiana.org). For more information or to get involved, please contact Paola Bernal ‘17 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We will also continue a number of programs that we have initiated in the past two years. These include, but are not limited to:
· Open Community Diversity Conversations for students, faculty, and staff hosted by President Cassidy. These will take place twice during the fall semester on Wednesday, September 14 from noon – 1 p.m. in the Dorothy Vernon Room (bring your lunch; those off the meal plan can obtain free lunch passes) and on Wednesday, November 16 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Dalton 300. Topics will be circulated a week in advance; we welcome your suggestions.
· This year’s Community Day of Learning will be held on Wednesday, March 23 from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Stay tuned for an invitation to all interested community members to participate in the planning committee meetings.
· The College will continue to advance work on the projects and discussions outlined in the Diversity Plan and Update that President Cassidy shared with the community at the end of the spring semester. We think of the Diversity Plan as a work in progress, designed to reflect and be responsive to campus needs and perspectives. Note: the Plan/ Update will be posted on the new President’s Office web page that is currently in development.
· The Pensby Center will of course offer their full roster of programs throughout the academic year, including their monthly Diversity Conversation Workshop series. The first workshop will take place on Friday, September 23, at noon.
We look forward to welcoming you back and to collaborating with you to advance change at Bryn Mawr and in our communities.
Kim Cassidy, President
Jennifer Walters, Dean of the Undergraduate College