The Pensby Center (formerly The Office of Intercultural Affairs) implements programs and activities that address issues of diversity, power and privilege, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, country of origin, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and disability, with a goal of improving the campus climate and enhancing community life at Bryn Mawr College.
In this introductory post, Pensby intern Alexis De La Rosa ’15 discusses the work she and fellow intern Lauren Footman ’14 will focus on this summer.
This summer I have the amazing opportunity to delve into the history of diversity at Bryn Mawr. Lauren Footman and I began our time together this last week by listening to an interview of Bryn Mawr alum Evelyn Jones Rich ’54, one of the
first black students to attend Bryn Mawr. I could think of no better way to begin my internship. A true Bryn Mawr woman, Rich would not stand for the oppressive power structure of society, and realized she needed to gain access to that structure in order to change it. With that decided, she fully immersed herself in life at Bryn Mawr; Rich never missed a class and made sure to attend every extracurricular event possible. Each experience during her time at Bryn Mawr helped Rich excel later in life. After learning to interact with people of different cultures, accepting occasional defeat, and overcoming her fair share of adversity, Evelyn Rich dedicated her life to creating opportunities for those otherwise overlooked.
Although Rich noticed a greater presence of students of color on campus since her time as a student, she indicated that there was still progress to be made. She hoped there would be more support for and amongst students of color at Bryn Mawr— a hope that is still as relevant as it was 34 years ago. In her interview Rich said, “don’t hold onto something just because we’ve always done it that way.” Bryn Mawr has made many changes since Rich’s time here, and continues to evolve each day. This internship is an important step the college is taking to recognize and celebrate diversity. Lauren and I both have individual projects we are working on this summer, in addition to our joint project of compiling Evelyn Rich’s collection. I am excited to see what our work will produce!