Tri-Co Institute Brings Students Together Around Social Justice Issues

Posted August 28th, 2014 at 3:05 pm.

Ann Tran takes part in the 2014 Identity, Equity, and Social Justice Institute.

Ann Tran takes part in the 2014 Identity, Equity, and Social Justice Institute.

Throughout their histories, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore colleges have always attracted students interested in social justice.

Over the years, the umbrella of social justice concerns has grown and branched out to include issues related to race, class, sexuality, gender, religion, and more. Incoming students from the Class of 2018 particularly interested in these topics had the opportunity to come together with campus staff and current students at the Tri-College Identity, Equity, and Social Justice Institute (“Tri-Co”).

This year’s institute brought together 60 incoming students and was held from Aug. 20-25.

Assistant Dean and Pensby Center Director Vanessa Christman coordinates the institute for Bryn Mawr.

“In the late 1970s, Tri-Co was created as an academic bridge program and opportunity for matriculated students of color to connect before beginning classes on their respective campuses,” she explains. “Tri-Co later focused on issues of diversity that all students could expect to encounter as they began college. Recently, the program’s focus shifted again. The current institute invites students to examine power and privilege as well as identity, with the goal of developing social justice change agents in the Tri-College community.”

Tri-Co 2014 opened with an afternoon program at Bryn Mawr, and subsequent full days of workshops, activities and reflection groups took place at each of the three colleges.

“All the conversations and reflections were very deep and involved,” says Fatou Sylla of Branford, CT.

“They did a great job of creating a space where we could speak without fear of judgment and be free to share our stories and knowledge,” adds Diamond Ray of Philadelphia.

Ray was drawn to the program for its inclusion of gender and sexuality as social justice issues.

“In high school we were able to talk about race and class but gender and sexuality was just sort of ignored,” says Ray.

Both Ray and fellow participant Ann Tran of Boston say the Institute has helped prepare them to better engage with social justice issues on campus.

“You may not understand where someone is coming from or what their life experience has been but you can ask and you can talk,” says Ray.

“Bryn Mawr is a very progressive and welcoming environment but there’s always room to grow,” adds Tran. “We all have a role to play in making this the community we want it to be.”

The Bryn Mawr leadership team— Christman, Stephanie Nixon, Ellie Esmond, Jessica Hollinger, and Tiffany Shumate, in collaboration with colleagues from Haverford and Swarthmore—worked intensely since last fall, to create this year’s program.  Student Resource Persons (SRPs) Grace Pusey ’15, Nancy Toure ’15, Emmett Binkowski ’16 and Bomi Hong ’17 also helped develop and lead the program.  Pensby Center Administrative assistant Oanh Whalen provided additional support and helped bring many pieces of Tri-Co 2014 together.

“It was very reassuring to meet the current students and the administrators who are interested in and work with these issues and to see how passionate they are and to see that they really know what they’re talking about,” says Sylla.

The Pensby Center implements programs and activities that address issues of diversity, power and privilege, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, country of origin, class, gender, sexuality, religious affiliation and disability, with a goal of improving campus climate, cultivating leadership and enhancing community life at Bryn Mawr College. For more information, visit the Pensby Center website.

Filed under: Events,social gatherings,Students Tags: by mgray

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