Honor Code in Action

Tuesday mornings, I wake up at 6:45 and go straight to the gym. To many this sounds miserable, to me, it’s the best way to start the day.

I spend 45 minutes there, head back to my room, quickly shower, get dressed and run to breakfast.

As I packed my bag though, I realized something was missing. Specifically: my iPod. After dumping my bag, tearing apart my room and running up and down my hall, I realized it had to be in the gym.

So I hightailed it back to the gym. No one had handed it in. And it wasn’t in the cubby where I left my stuff. It was sitting on the elliptical, right where I had left it an hour earlier.

It made me remember how much I LOVE the honor code. I think it’s something we all talk about in vague, glowing terms. But the honor code is something that affects our lives everyday at Bryn Mawr.

We leave our rain boots in the hall. When we go to a dining hall, we leave our stuff unattended at a table. We have take-home exams all the time. Anything lost eventually gets back to us.

It’s amazing and something I will miss when I leave the Mawr.

It’s The Cheesiest Time of the Year!

Sunday was my “The Big Cheese Forum” at SGA, my favorite SGA meeting of the semester.

Administrators from all over the college come to SGA and take questions. Sunday night’s line-up was a “Who’s Who” of Bryn Mawr’s administration:

President McAuliffe- President of the College
Dean Rasmussen- Dean of the Undergraduates
Angie Sheets- Director of Residential Life
Bernie Chung-Templeton- Director of Dining Services
Ed Harman- Assistant Director for Grounds
Elliott Shore- Chief Information Officer
Jerry Berenson- Chief Administrative Officer
John Griffith- Chief Financial Officer
Jenny Rickard- Chief Enrollment and Communications Officer
Stephanie Wujcik- Assistant Director of Residential Life

Questions range from faculty work-family balance initiatives to the financial state of the college to the free subway tokens program.

It’s a pretty unique opportunity to get your questions answered and pitch ideas to admin.

I think it says a lot about Bryn Mawr that the room was packed on Sunday night. But also, that all our administrators were willing to give up a Sunday evening with their families to come and chat with students. They value student input and care enough to answer our questions, and see what we think it important.

So, I had two resolutions for the second half of the semester:

1) Practice my Russian vocab everyday.-I’m not going to say this has happened. But it’s happening more often than not.

2) Go to the 7 AM Monday morning yoga class.

Here’s the thing, I’m an early riser. I actually have Tuesday through Friday mornings from 6-8 AM blocked out as thesis time. And I really love yoga. But I wasn’t sure that I would actually follow through on this.

I already have weightlifting on Mondays and I didn’t know if I needed another hour of excersise that day. And I knew it would be giving up thesis time.

But I’ve been to both of them. Drop-in gym classes are one of my favorite things about Bryn Mawr. We call it the “Fit Club.” Classes are open to students, faculty and staff. You don’t have to sign up or anything, just show up when you want to.

The class offers some structure to my day and forces me to actually, you know, go to the gym instead of reading underground Russian lit in my bed on Monday mornings. And they’re low-key. Everyone there has chosen to be there.

I have to say I enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would. Between yoga and weightlifting, I feel invincible on Mondays. And that’s hardly a bad way to start the week.

Blogged On

I seem to be the only senior blogger who hasn’t mentioned her thesis. I guess there’s a part of me that keeps thinking it will disappear.

That’s actually not really fair. I’m, so far, enjoying the process of writing a thesis. I’m a history major at Haverford, and my thesis is a year-long process.

I’m focused on The Chronicle of Current Events, an underground newspaper published by dissidents in the Soviet Union during the sixties and seventies. I’m using the newspaper as a way to examine how underground movements communicate (especially when there’s no internet) and what the dissidents’ values were.

This semester, we’re focused on researching. And next semester begins the writing.  It’s the researching part that makes me the most nervous. I LOVE to write. And the idea of writing 60-80 pages doesn’t actually scare me. It sounds fun actually. I know, I’m a nerd.

But the research is a whole other story. I keep describing it as a three-headed beast. For everyone one book I finish, I find three more that I need to read.  Its interesting reading and I’m enjoying it, but it’s a lot.

My least favorite part of the research process: organizing my notes. However, I’ve had a major breakthrough. I decided to backup my notes on a blog. I live in fear of my computer crashing, leaving me alone and thesisless. So I figured a blog would guarantee that no matter what happened and what computer I was one, I would still have access to my thesis.

But then a funny thing happened: the blog turned into my organizational method. I have a page devoted to a working bibliography. All my notes are tagged so with a single click, I can draw up all my notes on Khrushchev’s Secret Speech. It’s forced me to think about themes and how all the things I’m reading relate to one another.

In other words, it’s turned the note-taking process into a more analytical and rewarding art of the thesis. Again, I know I’m a nerd.

One of my friends, Aya, spent the summer working on an academic blogging project, as a Hanna Holborn Gray Fellow. She was researching Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton and “and their textual and physical relationships to the space around them.” I went to her final presentation of research a few weeks ago, and rather than focusing on what she discovered about Woolf and Wharton, she discussed blogging as an academic form.

I find myself going back to a lot of her findings when I think about my own thesis blog. For both of us, the ability to link our ideas, and others’, together in posts has been incredibly important. Everything is archived.

And my favorite part, it’s intended to be a living form. Blogs are constantly being updated and changed. It’s ok for me not to get something right on the first try. I can always post again.

First SGA, then the World

I spent last weekend with Laurel Lemon ’11. Among the millions of things Laurel did while she was a student at Bryn Mawr, was to serve as SGA treasurer.

We were taking a road trip through New England (we covered New York, Massachusetts and Vermont on Sunday afternoon), when she said that one of the things that most prepared her for her current job in the business field was her experience with SGA.

I was surprised. Laurel wrote an awesome thesis, served as the student rep to the 125th anniversary celebration, can cook like no body’s business, and it was her SGA experience that she found herself reflecting on everyday?

I’ve been involved with SGA, either directly or on the periphery, since my freshmen year. I haven’t missed a single Sunday night meeting since second semester of my freshmen year. I’ve volunteered at Plenary. I covered SGA extensively for the Bi-Co for three semesters. And now I run SGA elections.

And after my conversation with Laurel, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’ve learned from all that experience. My conclusion: SGA has taught me how to interact with big groups, especially when everyone holds a leadership position.

The Assembly consists of something like 30 members, all of whom hold leadership positions. Dorm Presidents. Social Committee Heads. Athletic Association President. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. And we all have to learn how to negotiate that territory.

Those are valuable skills. So Laurel was right. I’ve taken a lot away from SGA.

 

 

 

On the Women’s College Question

I spent all last week thinking about single-sex institutions. I’m working for USA Today College this semester and my article last week was about single-sex schools weighing going co-ed.

As a Bryn Mawr student, I obviously have a lot of respect for single-sex education, so my story took on a life of its own. I had fifteen pages of notes for a six-hundred word article. And it’s the type of story I went let die. I’ve continued to question people all weekend about single-sex education. A friend who graduated from Bryn Mawr last year came to visit and I pestered her for a half hour about her time at a women’s college prepared her for the business world. My brother’s best friend is attending a former men’s college, now co-ed, but lives in all male housing. How’s that impacted him?

One of my friend half-jokingly said I could turn this into a book. And I think I probably could. I can’t stop thinking about it.

In particular, I keep going back to something the Mount Holyoke Student Government VP, Stephanie Roses, said. It’s worth quoting in full:

Questions that have come up: Why does the college feel it needs to explore other options and prove to others that it may remain a women’s institution? Why do single sex institutions need to re-examine their very existence year after year? [Emphasis hers]?

I think it’s an excellent question. Why do we feel the need to stand up and scream every few months: Hey! We’re still relevant!

I’m not going to give you all the stats. You can look those up anywhere. I’m going to give you the responses my friends gave:

-One said she wouldn’t have double majored at a co-ed school.

-Another said she wouldn’t have explored other departments before declaring her major.

-A third friend said she wouldn’t participate in class nearly as often.

-Another said she’s matured far faster from all her friends at home.

At that’s just in informal conversations with friends.

What I’m trying to say is that we do matter and we are relevant.

When I interviewed Jenny Rickard, our Chief Enrollment and Communications Officer, she said, “The work of women’s colleges is not over.” There’s still too few women in Congress, in business, in academia. We have a long way to go and Bryn Mawr is doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

Book ‘Em Danno

Sometime last year, Monday nights became one of my favorite nights of the week.

I know, Mondays? It’s weird, right?

But last semester Monday night became not just another night devoted to all the homework that didn’t get done over the weekend. Monday nights became “5-0 and Fro-Yo” nights.

In the fall, my friends got in the T.V. show, Hawaii 5-0. I had class, so I would meet them and catch the last twenty minutes. Its hardly amazing television, but it’s the PERFECT Monday night show. There’s no thinking involved and the scenery is gorgeous.

Then, I got an ice cream maker for my birthday. The instructions for making frozen yogurt: put yogurt in bowl and turn on machine. Twenty minutes later, you have frozen yogurt. Well, it’s normally more of the consistency of a milkshake. It’s not the world’s strongest ice cream maker. But it’s still delicious.

It was only natural then when last February we decided to combine two of our favorite things: Hawaii 5-0 and Frozen Yogurt, and then adorably abbreviated it “5-0 and Fro-Yo.”

And then a funny thing happened, those Monday nights became really important to us. It sounds cheesy, but it wasn’t about the television show or the frozen yogurt, it was about us spending that time together. As the semester went on, and our schedules grew crazier and the book piles grew ever taller, we still always had that time together.

It became our own mini-tradition.

So in about an hour, you’ll find me curled on the coach with five friends and a lot of frozen yogurt cheering for out heroes to take out whoever the bad guy is this week.

Debate Night

Wednesday night was Candidates’ Forum. It’s a cross between a town hall and a debate between the candidates for different positions.

Candidates explain why they want to run and anyone in the community can ask them questions.

This is a fairly sizable round of elections. We have almost forty candidates for six different positions.

The most candidates are running for member at large. We have 11 people running for six slots.

I occasionally complain about Candidates’ Forum. Getting that many people in a room is a logistical nightmare, and it can go on for a while, but I really do love it.

It’s self-governance at it’s most basic. It’s about people coming together to figure out who will represent them, and what those representatives believe in.

It sounds cheesy and it probably is. But I’ve never missed a Candidates’ Forum. I’ve been to all three of them each year since my freshmen year, and I’ve enjoyed all of them.

Anyway, posting has been light this week. Elections take over my life.

Bryn Mawr Becomes a Drive-In…

For one a night each semester.

We have a really active film series on campus. It’s a committee of students that selects movies and shows them each Friday and Saturday night.  They occasionally do theme nights, I remember a great 80′s night with Ferris Bueller and Say Anything. But my favorite night of the whole semester is Movie on The Green.

Each semester, the film series moves out of a screening room and on to the lawn. And it’s fabulous.

Friday night, you would have found me and my friends huddled under blankets drinking hot chocolate watching X-Men: First Class. 

It was the perfect night. Seriously.

It was everything I love about Bryn Mawr. There was a good crowd, a lot of candy, and a pretty good movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on Elections, Women and Women’s Colleges

Fun fact about me: All The President’s Men is one of my favorite movies. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. NOW.

Unsurprising. It’s “the movie that send thousands of kids to journalism school.” But it’s also about one of my favorite things: elections.

I’m a political junkie. Part of its that I’m an aspiring political journalist, but part of is that I genuinenly think politics is fascinating. I read Ben Smith’s blog obsessively (he actually emailed me once after Bill Clinton came to Bryn Mawr! It was so cool) and can not get enough of Dave Weigel either.

So last year, when I was nominated to be the SGA Elections Coordinator, I should have jumped at the chance, right? Wrong.

It took a lot of convincing to get me to run. It took at least three separate conversations with different people for me to decide to take the plunge. I did and now I hold that position.

My job is pretty self-explanatory. I coordinate the three rounds of elections held each year. One just started on Monday, so that’s pretty much my life right now.

I brought up that it took three conversations to convince me to run not because it’s atypical, but because it’s common. One of the facts I learned from Dee Dee Myer’s “Why Women Should Rule the World” is that women candidates need to be asked three times before they actually agree to run for office.

It was true for me (and loads of my friends in SGA) and something that I’ve been thinking a lot about during this latest round of nominations. As women’s college, Bryn Mawr is dedicated to making the next generation of women leaders. So I’m trying to get people used to the idea of running for office.

The Elections Board and I are actively recruiting qualified candidates and convincing them they would be good fits for the open positions. We’re trying to get women used to the idea of running for office.

It’s funny, but one of the things that we take for granted about BMC being a women’s college is that all the student leadership positions are held by women. It sounds obvious, but it’s so far from the norm at many places.

Lisa Belkin just wrote an article for the New York Times about life at Princeton. She writes,

“In social settings and in relationships, men set the pace, made the rules and acted as they had in the days when women were still “less than.”

I was shocked when I read that. It’s just so far from what we experience here each day. Women here run the show. And we’re proud of it.