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How to get out of going to class at Bryn Mawr: Stage a politically correct demonstration

October 6, 2014

And you don’t have to turn in your term paper on time, either:

In September, two Bryn Mawr students hung up a Confederate flag in a public area of the Radnor Hall dormitory and used neon duct tape to symbolize the Mason-Dixon line on the carpet. Others in the dorm asked the students to take the flag down, but they refused, saying it was a representation of their Southern pride.

After more requests from students and dorm leaders, the flag was moved inside their room, but it was still visible through a window.

The administration had to balance the calls for action from some students and the rights of the students who hung the flag, [Bryn Mawr president Kimberly] Cassidy said. Bryn Mawr also has a strong tradition of self-governance among students, and that process can take time. Eventually, the students, who haven’t been publicly identified, took down the flag. It is unclear to what extent the students felt pressured to do so, and they have made no public statement.

“I think some people felt like that took too long,” Cassidy said.

In the days that followed, campus was chaotic, Massaro said. Some students went home for a few days. Other upset students were searching for a way to show their anger, many suggesting that Cassidy’s inauguration on Sept. 20 would present an ideal opportunity.

By mid-week, Interim Provost Mary Osirim sent an email asking faculty members to be patient with students who might be missing class or turning in assignments late due to the “great deal of stress” caused by the flag and related issues of race on campus.

Such delicate flowers, these Bryn Mawr students!

But of course, taking down the flag wasn’t enough for the demonstration’s “upset” organizers. They want blood:

The campus NAACP chapter, which organized the event, provided a list of changes it wants to see on campus, based on student input.

Some were specific and immediate: that the Confederate flag be banned from campus, that the college’s Honor Code be updated to have a section dedicated to “Race Respect,” and that the students who hung the flag offer a public apology to the campus and face consequences from the athletic department (both are members of multiple sports teams).

And also mandatory “diversity training” for all:

Other changes the student demonstrators are pressing for are more long-term, such as mandatory diversity training for all students and faculty, increasing the number of faculty of color and offering more education about race symbols.

Cassidy also mentioned diversity training and increasing the number of faculty of color as steps the administration is already working on.

Uh, whatever happened to free speech?

Some people at Bryn Mawr may be offended by the sight of the Confederate battle flag, and they’re just as entitled to protest its display by some students as the students were to display it in the first place.

But giving the protesters a free pass on their academic work–the supposed purpose of college–while punishing the students who hung the flag? That’s academia for you these days.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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