At Bryn Mawr, they are trying to get super-serious students to have fun, fun, fun.
By Kady Ashcraft
All work and no play makes for an unhappy student body — and an incentive to improve the social life at Bryn Mawr College.
School administrators became increasingly aware of the lack of a thriving and enjoyable social atmosphere on campus during the last school year. There was a sharp increase of student visits to the health center’s therapist along with what seemed to be a general depression across campus.
Students also noticed a tired and unenthusiastic attitude spreading amongst their peers.
“Everyone seemed to be in a funk,” said junior, Caroline Herman. “There wasn’t much excitement on campus.”
Adding to the monotonous atmosphere was the difficulty to get off campus. Most students do not own cars and rely on public transportation if they want to travel into nearby Philadelphia.
The Paoli-Thorndale regional rail stops about a block from campus and can get a student into the city in 25 minutes. There is also the option of the Norristown high-speed rail, which is further from Bryn Mawr’s campus, but is less expensive than the regional rail.
A trip on the regional rail can cost up to $10 round trip if the tickets are not bought beforehand. The Norristown rail, a three-quarter
I am soooo bored.
mile distance from campus, costs a little over $5 roundtrip.
Purchasing tokens and transfer stubs was unfamiliar to some students, as well.
“It’s a confusing system,” said senior, Julia Ryan.
While Philadelphia is a center for fun and adventure, students at Bryn Mawr felt removed and isolated from the city. Like many small, suburban schools, students often found themselves trapped inside the “Bryn Mawr Bubble.”
The bubble can be a comforting thing, but also restricting and alienating.
“As an upperclassmen, I kind of know everything about the campus,” said Ryan.
The increasing desire to make college life more fun — outside The Bubble — reached the school’s administrators, namely Bryn Mawr’s deans, who then decided to take action.
Halfway through the summer an email was sent out to students with the title “A Letter to Returning Students.” The innocuous subject line could have easily been overlooked, but it contained big news.
The Dean’s office announced it would be issuing free Septa passes and tokens for the Norristown high-speed line as well as the regional rail. Along with the announcement was a long letter explaining the hope that students would begin to feel more engaged in the world around them. In other words, go out and have fun.
Dean of the Undergraduate College, Michele Rasmussen, wrote that she wondered if “work harder, play less” is the ethos that ends up being adopted when students get bogged down with the incredibly high academic standards they set for themselves.” Continue reading →