Assignment Due as You Return from Fall Break

Anne Dalke's picture

A number of possible venues for activism have been emerging from our conversations (giving feedback to the Mural Arts Program, and/or offering an alternative form of art-making in some of the neighborhoods we visited on our tour? working with YASP on a door-to-door campaign? advocating for the future of Perry House? what other activism is likely to emerge during the next 6 weeks, as we spend time inside The Cannery?).

We would like you to 1) structure your final work in this 360°around one of these actions and also 2) find some way to present those projects to the larger bi-co community (or beyond it). A number of these will need advance work (especially if we are to co-ordinate w/ others outside the bi-co), so we'd like to begin brainstorming together the directions in which we might go, both individually and collectively.

By 5 p.m.on  Sun, Oct. 21 (the day we return from break): please post AS A COMMENT TO THIS POST a short description of the sort of activism which interests you, and any ideas you have about what particular form this action might take.

We will then begin having shared conversations about when and how to move forward ….

Groups:

Comments

sara.gladwin's picture

link to my post about activism

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/activism-confusion

jhunter's picture

Activism

I really liked Haley's suggestion about working to donate our books (and perhaps we could work ourselves and with the women to hear what they want to read and what issues they'd like to see represented in their libraries that are not).  I think having a book, speaking from my experience being alone in hospital rooms, can be such a powerful thing when you are confined to an institution.  Reading may be the only way, to paraphrase the quote from Reading is my Window, "to deal with the world of the institution and to have the possibility of escaping to new worlds and dreaming of futures that are not yet possible."

At Haverford, I am the co-head of ASC (Allied Students for Consent aka Consent is Sexy), which is a group of students of various genders and sexualities basically consciousness raising about issues of rape, sexual assault, and rape culture on Haverford's campus as well as larger society.  Personal experience with seeing how the instution of Haverford silenced many of my friends who are survivors of sexual assault, whether through direct actions of the administration or merely by ignoring requests to amend how Haverford deals with accusations of rape on campus.  I'm also a member of SOAR (survivors of assault and rape) and do a fair amount of reading about rape culture, how we silence women and men about sexual assault, and recently about issues of sexual assault in prisons.  I don't know if anyone would be interested in focusing on issues of sexual assault on campus and in prisons, but that's the activism that aligns best with my passion and past work.

I'm pretty sure that Bryn Mawr doesn't have organizations like ASC or SOAR (though BMC students are welcome at Haverford's and please e-mail me if any of you are interested in checking out a meeting but have some questions/concerns).  We'd love to either make it a bi-co group or talk with interested BMC students about how they could go about starting ASC/Consent is Sexy on Bryn Mawr's campus.  From what I've heard from survivors at Bryn Mawr is that there isn't a lot of support from administration or even in the form of student-run support groups like SOAR (which is the first "safe space" I've taken part in that functioned exactly how a safe space should, allowing everyone to be comfortable enough to participate--it's really an amazing resource and is totally about students supporting each other).

Unless other students are interested, I don't think I can manage this project by myself. I'm dealing with some more medical issues and unfortunately have to be focused on making it through the semester as well as I can, which right now means I've been quite overwhelmed with the amount of work I both need and want to be doing.  If anyone is interested, please let me know because I feel like this could do a number of positive things that relate clearly to silence and voice.  I think it could also allow the un-silencing of issues of rape on and off Bryn Mawr's campus by giving students voices and the power to give each other support.  This is a very long post, but basically I'm most interested in sexual assault and silencing in the Bi-Co as well as women's prisons.  I would also love to have a conversation, if any one who feels like they understand how sexual assault and rape are dealt with by your administration, to talk differences and similarities of Haverford and Bryn Mawr's goals and to see if we could not become resources for each other.  To end this short novel ;), I shall say that I know I didn't get into how we would present this material (But I definitely have ideas) and how to make it both about the ways instituions of higher education silence survivors as well as how instituions of prisons care very little about addressing the huge problem of incarcerated individual's, particularly women's, experiences of sexual assault, which are typically ignored. 

Looking forward to talking about this with everyone!

Sharaai's picture

I am interested in doing more

I am interested in doing more work with Perry House. I feel like we did a lot of processing and action during the first half of the semester, but this is nowhere near the end. This is something I find myself very passionate about and that I feel like will really have an effect on our campus depending on its outcome. With that, I want to explore different ways work with the Perry House issue. Getting information out there and having people read it is important to me. I would hate for the Bryn Mawr apathy to catch on to the Perry House issue.

I also love the ideas that couldntthinkofanoriginalname has about Perry House. The freedom trail-esque project sounds like it could be something really awesome!

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

Ummm...

I like all the ideas I read and for some reason I cannot come up with just one thing. One reason can be that I am still unsure of how this final project is expected to look like and another reason is that I just can't pick one of the many issues we need to deal with. Things that came to mind were: a book/diary/journal kind of thing where we (BMC students and the women from the Cannery) speak either in poetry or just regular writing about the issue we see that affect us all both in prison (from their perspective of course) and relate it to our experience here in school. 

I also think we should do some work on Perry house. Workshops, pamphlets, writing letters to the Deans office or whoever is in charge, or anything anyone has said before me "/ (I'm very undecisive) 

couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Perry House

I'd also like to focus on Perry House. I fully support a campus-wide discussion about Perry. I'd also like to extend on that idea. I have been really interested in Perry's history beyond its institutional signifcance. I had the pleasure of having lunch with a Bryn Mawr Alum who adores Perry. She told me this great story about how she and her fellow Perry-residents found authentic documents from the slavery-era when they moved a book shelf in the Perry library. I am assuming the college still has them and I'd like to find out what the documents were, where they are now and how to make them a visible connection to Perry.

To be more specific, I want BMC to have a visual, and perhaps a permanent, reminder of the importance of Perry House and its historical/institutional significance because it is so easy to ignore the house since its at the far edge of campus. Perhaps a gallery of Perry's history? A monument on campus? Or perhaps a trail, kinda like the freedom trail, of significant Black/Latina Mawrters that leads from the center of campus to Perry?

Uninhibited, I fully support what you want to do! Lets deff make sure we invite alums to the discussion--they would have plenty to contribute.

Uninhibited's picture

Perry Day/Freedom Trail

I love the idea of a freedom trail of significant black/latina mawrters! This could perhaps really relate to the oral history that Dean Rassmussen talked about in our meeting tonight. We have alumnae (and current students) write about their experiences on campus/in Perry/with race and we could post these on a trail on campus. This could also be done on "Perry Day" which the affinity groups are thinking of doing, in which we'd center this topic in a variety of activities. Perhaps a discussion with faculty and staff, an opportunity to listen to oral histories, a presentation about "walls" and safe space (which we could connect to other walls)! I think that this seems like a lot, but since the next part of Jody's class will focus on Bryn Mawr walls we may already get a lot of this info. Let's see. I'm getting really excited! Hopefully something like the Freedom Trail may seem more feasible. 

 

Owl's picture

Consciousness Raising

Like Dan I think that what I am most interested is exposing others at Bryn Mawr to the complexities of privilege. However, I am particularly interested in discussing the variety of forms that privelege comes in. I think what is often neglected in the discussionon privilege is how we are all privileged in some way or another. This is not to say that while privileged we are not in some other way disenfranchised, but to think of ourselves or others as simply victims is to strip what little power we/they have. In terms of actism, I think it's funny how as students we often feel like we are powerless in the face of the larger institution that is Bryn Mawr, yet we are here on Serendip thinking of way to exercise the power that we do have. I think that anything we do shows how much privelge and power we do have, however little it may be. That being said, I think an interesting and fun thing to do might be to construct a mural here on campus. We might not be able to paint it on any building but if we get enough white paper we can get students involved in painting a mural that protrays and "discusses" privilege. 

jo's picture

undecided

I have a couple of different thoughts of possible things I might like to do/help with. As successful as the Perry House Plenary resolution was, I like what Uninhibited said about the project revolving around a discussion/workshop and stablizing the situation with Perry. It may be that discussion is all we need, but I'm also really into direct action and would be thrilled if that ended up being a part of the project. My biggest concern with ending with a workshop is that the end of the year is when everyone is busiest so I would be worried about having good attendence.

I'm also feeling drawn to this idea I've been toying with around criminal justice linked with food justice, linking prisons and poor, surveilled neighborhoods with (urban) farming. At this point, however, this idea feels really vague and maybe a better topic for thesis research.

I'm quite certain that I want to work with others, because I tend to work best in groups, so I'm definitely leaning towards the Perry House project.

Hummingbird's picture

Spreading Consciousness

When thinking about activism, I've found myself returning to the idea that this 360 experience is isolating – because it's so hard for people outside of our group to get a full understanding of what we've been doing. We spend so much time in our group of 17 (plus Anne, Barb, and Jody), that we've developed a kind of group consciousness on these topics of Silence, Voice, and Vision. In a desire to get away from being exclusionary, though, and share what we've learned with the broader community, I've been trying to figure out how we could replicate our class in a very condensed form for other students to participate in.

Like Jomira's idea of having a workshop, I'd also like to bring the ideas we've had in the classroom to the broader Bryn Mawr and local College community through some kind of workshop. For the activism I was interested in, though, I envisioned a one or two day event with a number of smaller workshops within it (perhaps along the lines of a Posse Plus retreat, for those who are familiar with that format). In fact, if this is something others in the class would be interested in, I imaging this format could encompass a number of the other activism projects our class has suggested. We could have a workshop on the work done by YASP and potentially teach our audience about sharing information about youth imprisonment. We could have a workshop in which participants collaborated to make a zine. We could have a workshop in which we focused discussion on Perry house and the black and latina experience in the walled community of universities (specifically Bryn Mawr). And there are a number of other workshops we could host as a way of bringing our consciousness to the college community. If others are interested in this, I'd be really excited to hear more ideas.
Chandrea's picture

I like the idea of possibly

I like the idea of possibly working more closely with YASP for the teach-in. Ever since that day that they came in, I've been thinking of ways I could get involved and help out but I feel like my schedule's already packed! I thought they were well-spoken and inspiring and I think it'd be smart to work together with them to create some sort of dialogue on campus about youth imprisonment. A lot of people on campus that I've talked to are always interested and impressed when they hear about this 360 because they think it's intense (which it is) but I'd like for them to understand exactly why it is that way and how heavy of a topic mass incarceration is.

The only thing I'm worried about is how we would attract our audience. I feel like if I weren't in the 360 and I saw a flyer about workshops focused on mass incarceration, I would be interested, but I don't know if I'd see it as relevant to my experience as a student at Bryn Mawr. It's been the past month with this 360 that has taught me that it's very relevant.

HSBurke's picture

Give the people what they want

Barb recently told us during Visions class that, oftentimes, the only literature that is available to prisoners is trashy, insubstantial, romance novels. After hearing that, I did some researching and found that the most requested book in prison is actually the dictionary. With each of these points in mind, I would like my activism to take the form of a book drive/donation that would benefit local institutions. As a start, I want to see how my classmates feel about donating the books we used for this 360. We've talked about how, in prison education (when there are educational programs in prison), prisoners aren't being exposed to the larger-level structural problems that contributed to their incarceration. Providing them with books such as Colored Amazons would definitely help with providing this insight. I am hoping that this drive can be opened up to the entire campus (although I fear that people are more open to donate to poor girls from Africa [PEIA's book drive] than incarcerated men and women). I also know that many departments put out boxes of free books for anyone to take -- these could also be an option. If anyone knows where old/unwanted dictionaries can be found, I would really appreciate that information!

In addition to the possibility of the book drive/donation, I am also interested in cleaning up the graveyard in Morris Woods as per Anne's activism idea. 

**As an interesting side note, I have been writing my journals for Visions by hand in an attempt to only use mediums that the women we’ll be working will also have access too. My constant scribbling out is a clear reminder to me of how much I rely on spell check and how unnerving it is to be without. When I read the note about prisoners requesting dictionaries, it really made sense to me. You’re taken so much more seriously when your spelling and grammar are correct. This is something that I had taken for granted until now…

Michaela's picture

I'm really interested in

I'm really interested in literacy (and illiteracy), especially among adults, because, for being a fairly basic skill that I feel like I often take for granted, too many people are denied access to an ability that is fundamental to surviving and flourishing in the world. Reading books is one thing, and a very educational and generally enjoyable pastime, but to be unable to read basic instructions, job applications, etc. seems a devastating blow to one's self esteem and feelings of self-sufficiency. 

Learning that many of the women at the Cannery read only at a 2nd grade reading level was devastating, and hearing from Barb's presentation about her time at Riverside about how little reading material is available to female inmates, I would be interested in structuring my final activism around this. I'm not sure exactly what form it would take, but I really like your ideas, Hayley! I wonder if others might be interested in collaborating in this project as well? 

sara.gladwin's picture

I think I would defnitely be interesting in this

but I think it would be really useful also to discuss how we can make something like colored amazons or some of other readings more accessible to Prisoners? While I totally think they should be able to have literature like that available to them, I worry that just having it wouldn't be enough; that there would have to be a movement toward getting inmates who either can't read or have a low level of literacy positioned in the direction of a higher levels of literacy.

Dan's picture

I really want to find an

I really want to find an avenue to discuss and "consciousness raise" about issues of privilege (specifically white privilege in the classroom). I want it to be accessable and interesting -- and to get people thinking and talking about their privilege in ways they may otherwise not see or acknowledge. The zine "Unpacking the Invisible Napsack of White Privilege" is my inspiration right now because it's so short and affective. Ergo, I'm thinking of making a zine, but making it Bryn Mawr specific, or possibly making it a featured spread in the College News. If someone wants to help me with the format or contribute stories, I'd love to do the illustrations, write and edit for it.  

jhunter's picture

Zinin'

I would love to work with this in some way.  I am somewhat of a graphic novel/zine enthusiast and loooovvvveee writing ridiculous stories.  We shall talk.

Dan's picture

Yeah!

Yeah!

sara.gladwin's picture

if you are willing

I'd totally be interested in collaborating with illustrations. I really liked your first zine and would really like to participate if you start on another!

Dan's picture

Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

Uninhibited's picture

Perry House

For my final project I would like to focus on the issue of ensuring that the tradition of Perry House remains an important administrative commitment and that we're given a timeline on when the house will be fixed. Not only did I live there one summer but I've also spent countless hours eating food at the Mujeres food demos, attending socials, meeting alumnae and going to parties. To me, Perry House is a symbol of how this institution thinks of it's black and Latina population and how it works to ensure that we are happy and healthy, and feel included and valued in this community. I will continue to advocate for the future of Perry House by meeting with students, faculty, alumnae, staff and administrators to figure out what is the best way to move forward in a timely matter.

For the final project, I would like to plan a discussion/open forum and invite the larger Bryn Mawr community to talk about Perry House and the experiences of black and Latina students on campus. Perhaps, at this event, we can come up with a list of goals that have specific action steps that the college should take (one of them being Perry but perhaps others like hiring more faculty of color). This is exciting to me for two reasons, one is what I mentioned before about Perry House having been an important part of how I made friends and felt welcomed at Bryn Mawr. The other is drawing from my thesis in not only identifying the issues that black and Latina students face on campus but also taking a proactive approach in making recommendations and expecting them to be met by the student body and the administration. I think that by working together we can improve all of our experiences on this campus and ensure not only that we're all thriving academically, but also that we're healthy and happy.

 

Sarah's picture

Perry House

I would also like to focus my final project on the future of Perry House, by advocating and hopefully making concrete plans with other students, faculty, and staff about the future of Perry House (whether that be renovation, relocation, etc).  Like Jomaira, I would like to have some kind of campus wide (bi-co wide?) workshop or forum to give space to discuss what Perry house is and what it means to the campus.  I envision this workshop to be at the end of the semester, but struggle with that because I think goals need to be created and edited throughout the semester (this needs to be a continuous, on going conversation).  At this point I am also interested in contacting Haverford professors and alumns.  I know they have the BCC (Black Culturual Center) and have heard they face similar struggles with making the BCC a priority, but haven't actually talked to anyone from Haverford about it.

sdane's picture

I would also really like to

I would also really like to focus on Perry House for my final project.  In addition to what both of you are saying, I'm also really interested in looking at Perry House from the perspective of the history of racism both at Bryn Mawr College and in the town of Bryn Mawr.  I think that many students at BMC love to brand themselves as "colorblind," and aside from not seeing how offensive this is, they also don't see how legacies of racism created an environment where students of color DO need a space like Perry House.

Also, my housemate's friend was visiting this week, and it was really interesting to talk to her about similar ethnic and cultural houses at Stanford, where she went to school.  Stanford is a place with huge amounts of diversity, of all kinds, and its own issues with race and class (including an "Indians" former mascot), but it sounds like these houses provide a really special place for dialogue to occur.  They actually have an entire house just "committed to exploring the subjects of race, class, ethnicity, gender and religion in a supportive intellectual environment."  The person visiting this week is black, and lived in the African American house her junior year, and then lived in the indigenous peoples house her senior year, and talked about all the perspectives she became aware of through that experience.  Obviously, Stanford is a much bigger school, but all of their houses have about 100 students - wouldn't it be great if we could have something similar on a small scale? I know that having this many houses could probably never happen at Bryn Mawr in the near future (we're having a hard enough time reviving the one house we did have!) but I really do love the model.

http://www.stanford.edu/group/themed/ethnicandfocus.html

ishin's picture

Podcast activism

I'm pretty into radio programming and journalism, so for our end of year project, I'd like to create a couple (either two or three) podcasts dedicated to telling the stories of people who otherwise gone unnoticed.  While the format of this is still up for grabs, I'd like to dedicate one podcast to the women we will be having class with and another to exploring East Asian women and identity on Bryn Mawr campus. I don't know what the end product of this project will be quite yet, but I see there being a presentation/"opening day" dedicated to the collected stories.  If at all possible, I would also like our new fellow classmates to have a day where they are able to listen and then discuss their reactions.

This needs a lot of hashing-out, but I'm pretty excite about it. 

Erin's picture

Add on to activism project

Sorry about the late post. Ishin asked me about doing this project together focusing on East Asians women before break and we finally had time to sit down to talked about it today. I will add my part of thoughts to this post about this activism project.

Not until several weeks ago, I realized that how isolated I am on this campus in the terms of paying attention to things happening around me. I am pretty sure there are many international students are living their lives in my old ways. As the international student population keeps growing on campus, we didn't hear the corresponding proportional of voices of such a student body. From my personal experience, there are problems need to be solved but somehow those discussions and voices are missing on this campus. Whether the questions were reconciled within the student body or we decided to live with them and not seeking help and attention publicly.

I personally start to reflect and rethink my previous experiences and choices. I would like to explore more about the East Asian women and identity on Bryn Mawr campus. Does the culture, the status as F-1 student or the expectation from outside make us the way we are right now.

It’s also interesting if we can interview the faculty, especially the Asian faculty to reveal the changing landscape of the East Asian women body on campus. After all, it’s meaningful to provide an opportunity or space for those individual voices to be heard.

sara.gladwin's picture

I really really really like this

really 3x just to express how much I like this. I've gotten really into this american life podcasts this semester and I think just the act of trying to structure a podcast would be an interesting learning experience. I think they are a great way to spread ideas and stories.

Anne Dalke's picture

grounded in empathy

In this morning's NYTimes, I read an article about Bridging the Clothing Divide that begins w/ a quote from Gandhi--

“Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him"--

and then describes an organization in India that redistributes clothing. What caught my attention was "its nonmarket, nonmonetary approach —  one grounded in empathy."

sara.gladwin's picture

just some musings about empathy

What has been interesting me about empathy is that there doesn't seem to be a way to empathize without engaging the "self" in some way. To take away the relationship of the "self" to empathy would be more like sympathy... generally we can empathize because think we know what something feels like, we can imagine someone else's struggles happening to us, or maybe we have gone through something similar...is it wrong or unethical to be centered around the self? I've always had trouble understanding this….

 I was also thinking about this a lot in today's silence class… why do we always have to engage people egotistically to get them to care? Why does it take putting an issue in relationship to how it will affect someone for that person to finally care?

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