Last week we had our first Community Day of Learning where the campus paused so that we could dig in and have difficult conversations about race and ethnicity. In our closing session, we wrote down what our hopes are moving forward. My hope is that this wouldn’t be something future students would look back on and say that this is something Bryn Mawr used to do – I don’t want future students, like myself, to discover all of the programs and discussions that Bryn Mawr used to have. I also don’t want students to find themselves repeating history by having the same conversations about the same problems that I experience now and that students who graduated before me experienced.
So what now? It already seems like the energy from last week is starting to fade and I urge people to keep going. Anyone and everyone can be responsible for continuing the conversations and moving words to action. I think it would be great if we could bring back some of the presentations that were given during the community day so that people who didn’t get to attend can go and learn. What if we made these types of sessions a norm? What if we always got to hear from faculty and staff about their experiences? What if we always had workshops available for community members to be enriched and talk to people they may otherwise never encounter? What if community members always had a chance to learn about where people are participating in activism?
As a community we need to bring the energy and willingness to learn and act with us throughout our time at the college because there is always #Mawr2Learn.
I have been on the Perry House Committee since my first year at Bryn Mawr. The Perry House Committee was formed at the request of students in the Perry House Coalition after the closing of Perry House. For students of color, particularly those representing the African diaspora (through Sisterhood), African and Caribbean cultures (through BACaSO), and the Latin American diaspora (through Mujeres) Perry House has been an essential space for fellowship, connecting, and reflecting. When I got to Bryn Mawr, Perry House was already closed, so I didn’t get to experience Perry House as it was in the past but through my work on the Perry House Committee I am experiencing what Perry House is like in the present and what it can be in the future.
The Perry House Committee has been tasked with thinking about and making some of the harder decisions about the future of Perry House right from the start. In the beginning the tough decisions revolved around where would Perry be and should it be relocated. Now, in the third year, we are looking at how the space should be used, form life, and the naming. All of these factors require serious input from students, faculty, and alums – especially those with a connection to the ‘old’ Perry House and those who wish to have a connection to the ‘new’ Perry House. In my opinion the hardest task that the committee (and the Bryn Mawr community at large) is faced with is the preservation of these unique cultures, that were once physically represented through Perry House, and the purpose and meaning of the space to this particular group of underrepresented students.
Although Perry House will be in a physically different location come the fall, the essence of Perry is held in the students past and present.
P.S. Get updates on Perry House and share memories on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram through the hashtag #ProjectPerry
P.P.S. The #ProjectPerry Preview will be on Tuesday, January 26 from 4-6 pm in the campus center!