The Ecology of Serendip
When I was trying to come up with something to write on Tuesday night, I saw, in the corner of Ecological Imagining's homepage, the title of a new blog post that sounded interesting. It was about smoking and Bryn Mawr, which are things that I just read about in the book about Bryn Mawr, Offerings to Athena: 125 Years at Bryn Mawr. So, I was really excited to write about this, and I did. But when I went to comment on the post, I realized that it had been made on a different part of Serendip, for a class called "Walled Women." Serendip seems like a little corner of the Internet, just for me and Ecological Imaginings, but it isn't, and I wish I could meet and comment on the posts of all the lovely Mawrters who are also on Serendip. But, since that is unlikely, I will just post the link to the article I read and my response.
When I first started to read your post, it reminded me of something that I'd read in Offerings to Athena: 125 Years at Bryn Mawr, so I went back and took a look! Smoking was actually banned at Bryn Mawr from 1897 until 1925, when SGA petitioned the president of Bryn Mawr (President Marion Edwards Park) to lift the ban. In this earlier example of the intermingling of rules on smoking with SGA and the Bryn Mawr administration, there are some interesting parallels to the issues that Sarah was talking about. I think the two really interesting things about the allowance of smoking are the reasons SGA and President Park gave for the change. SGA wanted it because they "found it increasingly impossible to enforce the rule against smoking,” (91) not that they thought that the ban was bad, but that it was hard to enforce. President Park cited the importance of public opinion, saying "A regulation prohibiting smoking can no longer depend on the authority of conscience and convention, which make up public opinion, and is no longer effective” (91). I understand that both of these statements could have very well been influenced by politics, that either or both SGA and President Park could have been saying these things only to accomplish their goals or not look silly. But even if they did not really mean what they were saying, both SGA and President Park were re-enforcing the importance of perception and Bryn Mawr's struggles with a strict code of conduct.