Discussion Attempts to Tackle Lack of Diversity in the Theatre Department

The Sarah Lawrence Performing Arts Center.   Photo credit: Joseph McFarland

The Sarah Lawrence Performing Arts Center. Photo credit: Joseph McFarland

‘Noon Day Sun’ by Cassandra Medley is a play about a woman named ‘Wendy,’ whose secret birth name is ‘Zena.’ Wendy is a black-identified woman who is passing as a white woman. A casting controversy began when the person chosen to play as Wendy for the SLC production was white. There was talk of audience walkouts, recasting, and even a rewrite of the story.

Some point out how there’s an overall lack of diversity in the SLC theater program, so it’s not the fault of the casting but simply a lack of available choices. Others point out how this doesn’t have to be an issue of authenticity, considering the character is supposed to be someone who passes as white. Others draw attention to the issue being a persistent reoccurring problem, pointing out the minstrel shows or lack of representation for people of color in theater. One thing that is mostly agreed upon is that this isn’t a simple ‘quick fix’ problem.

“We can’t just look at diversity as ‘oh we don’t have enough people of color.’ That’s not diversity. Diversity is body types, skin colors, abilities, backgrounds, nationalities, languages, and you know it extends far beyond just that, so I think that we have to work on our vocabulary and the way that we’re holding this discourse surrounding diversity,” says Julius Powell (‘18).

The SLC Theatre Program discussion regarding diversity on March 8th lasted for about 90 minutes. Undergrad Students, SLC graduates, faculty, and others joined in on the conversation. 

“The issue seems to be more about how to have [diversity] conversations. How do you deal with race and ethnicity and other aspects of the self in art,” Linwood J. Lewis, an SLC psychology professor, said during the discussion.

Irving Vincent, who mostly led the discussion with Cassandra Medley, drew upon his own experience as being a person of color who grew up in a time when black people struggled for any form of representation. He also spoke about how the idea of art in itself was about stepping outside your box, noting how Meryl Streep was able to take on a variety of roles: “Tell me one artist who didn’t break the rules?” 

The discussion went back and forth from a philosophical look at performance and playwriting to an agreeable plan for future casting. The discussion became less about finding solutions, and more about how to have conversations in the future that will lead to solutions.

“When we leave this campus, we don’t want this conversation to keep happening. We don’t want this to keep being a thing. [...] I just want to get to the conversation that moves this forward,” said Nja Batiste (‘18) at the discussion. 

The philosophical debate was on the issue of colorblind casting vs color-conscious casting, and the benefits or issues with each casting method. The general consensus of the discussion was to put forth a mission statement on the department as a whole. 

“I think we also have to craft a mission statement and in our mission we would be looking for plays that offer complex roles for actors of color and women. [...] You don’t want to create a pressure for certain people to audition for things because that’s not fair but you also don’t want to miss an opportunity for a great show,” said Laura Hawes (‘18).

Common Ground discussions put forth the idea of having a diversity committee specifically for the theater department. There is currently an SLC diversity committee which does not focus on what goes on in SLC theater.

“The diversity committee is very different than what’s happening in theater. [...] It would be hard to have a diversity committee for the theater, outside the theater,” said Al Green, Dean of Equity and Inclusion.

Marisol, a play that SLC performed recently, seemed to be appreciated by those looking for more diversity in these plays.

“It follows a narrative that has nothing to do with race. It had, statistically, the highest natural diversity percentage of any of the shows we’ve had this semester. It had the highest percentage of people of color. The lead actress was a woman of color. I think Marisol is what we should be aiming to achieve in our department,” said Powell.

While there is no quick fix to the issue surrounding diversity, the agreeable plan for the near future is to develop a mission statement and diversity committee for the theater department.

Joseph McFarland '16

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

What Happened to the Fence on Mead Way?

Warren-Green, one of the Mead Way houses.   Photo credit: Katie Lee

Warren-Green, one of the Mead Way houses. Photo credit: Katie Lee

Sarah Lawrence has an awkward history with the surrounding houses. When Sarah Lawrence wanted to buy two buildings (assumed to be Warren and Perkins) in May 1929, the neighbors protested, saying that they had loud parties late at night. 

The fence along Meadway historically would be a cut-off line from the college and the surrounding community. That was no longer the case after the college bought the Meadway houses. What was once simply part of Lawrence Park became a new section of campus. The college zoning laws of the ‘80s in Yonkers restricted expansion of the campus during the Yonkers housing segregation issue. However, even with the sections campus that’s already been bought, we still see remnants of the original expansions with the fences blocking mid campus.

“I hate the fences. It makes it hard to get anywhere on main campus,” said KG Garlington (’18), who lives in Lynd and has to walk a longer distance along Kimball Avenue to get to the North Lawn due to one of Sarah Lawrence’s fences. 

This semester, the fence was finally taken down, making it easier for the students who live on Meadway to enter mid-campus.

“Various facilities studies undertaken by the College have all indicated the immense aesthetic and practical appeal of removing the fencing so that the perimeter line separating the historic core of campus from the Mead Way homes disappears,” said Kyle E. Wilkie, Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations and Planning.

Part of the financial support for this fence removal project came from Vicki Ford, class of 1960 and member of the board of trustees. Vicki Ford dedicated some of her annual money to the college to renovate Gilbert and beautify Meadway.

“This spring, we will identify areas where trees and seating areas could be added to create small gathering areas where seating will be installed. Vicki Ford has been passionate about creating informal areas for students to gather and is responsible for many of the benches that are seen throughout campus,” said Wilkie.

Many students seem excited about this change.

Victoria Silva (’18) said, “I’m happy about that because I didn’t want a fence there to begin with. It had no purpose and it separated the Meadway houses, so you’d have to find one of the openings. I think that’s good for the school’s image to have some benches there to make it be a student friendly area.”

Joseph McFarland '16

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

#BLACKOUTSLC Brings Racism Faced By Students of Color to the Forefront of Campus Dialogue

Black students speak to the crowd about the racism they’ve experienced during their time at SLC.   Photo credit: Carolyn Martinez-Class ‘17

Black students speak to the crowd about the racism they’ve experienced during their time at SLC. Photo credit: Carolyn Martinez-Class ‘17

Despite the anonymous negative comments on Yik Yak before and after the event, approximately 400 members of the Sarah Lawrence community attended the #BLACKOUTSLC event earlier this semester.

Many students expressed distinct surprise regarding the event’s turnout—“There turned out to be a lot more people than I expected, but there should have been more people. Students, staff, and faculty on the Sarah Lawrence campus are very good at showing what they care about, and they have showed students of color exactly how they feel about issues of racial equality,” explained Imani West ’16.

“I was glad to see so many people come and show support. It did mean a lot considering we, black students, only make up 4 percent of the student body...They need to understand that being a minority is hard. You have to accept respect our blackness because we, as minorities, have no choice but accept your whiteness,” said Monet A. Thibou ’17.

Students were called to walk out from all on-campus obligations and meet on the South Lawn on Monday November 16 at 3:30 PM. During the event, students of color spoke about their experiences regarding race on campus. 

Najah Aissata ’17 said in her speech to the gathering: “Today, we are here in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Missouri. Black students around the country are at a time of reckoning and it is time people start to listening. This year has been a challenging one with each day bringing a new hashtag, with each day bringing a new black body plastered all over the internet and news, with each day passing we lose another one of our own.”

The statements made by the students of color mainly addressed specific microagressions and racial injustices they faced on a regular basis. “It is extremely clear that people of color don’t feel safe on this campus and that we need change. Microaggressions and acts of hate happen in quiet corners of the school and foster places of darkness where no one can move forward from. I hope this protest illuminates that darkness, and at the very least allows people to understand that they can help make sure that this institution is open and comfortable for all,” said Andre Snow ’16.

Those who criticized idea of #BLACKOUTSLC—most of whom were able to hide behind anonymity while doing so—claimed it was ridiculous to have students miss class for something they didn’t believe was a real issue on campus. Trivializing the issue, some even went as far as to make jokes claiming that the speakers never felt “true oppression.”

“I have read some quite disturbing reactions on social media,” said Ayanna Harrison ’17. “Students have taken to Yik Yak to voice their opinions. While I agree one has a right to freedom of speech, it really gives me pause when I read Why do black people deserve more things than anybody else? or Yeah black people deserve so much more than everyone else. Black people need entitlements because they can’t make it on their own merit.

Additionally, Ayanna voiced concerns for effective measures of progress: “While we recognize the school’s efforts, making committees is not enough...Committees don’t protect us from having racial slurs being written on doors. Committees don’t protect us from our safe spaces being demonized and ostracized by our peers.” 

#BLACKOUTS is not an SLC exclusive movement but rather a national effort to center on the issues of black students, faculty, and staff around the US. The events at Mizzou ignited schools across the country to look inwardly at racial issues their own students face. Students nationwide have participated in both sit-ins and marches to bring attention to these problems.

“I know some professors made it mandatory to attend the event. What happened was largely what I had expected to happen: students rallying to acknowledge flaws in our system but what was surprising was seeing Karen Lawrence actually there...I felt that the students that went up and spoke said things about this school’s atmosphere [that] had been on my mind for years but put in a more eloquent way,” said Malcolm L. Knowles ’16.

The meeting at SLC began with a list of demands that were read in front of those who attended. President Karen Lawrence was in the crowd, and stayed for the length of the event. 

In a video interview that student Jack Califano ‘16 conducted and posted directly after the event, he asked President Lawrence about her viewpoints on the various issues brought up.

“I don’t think we’re complacent about […]having a progressive institutional past, I think we should be proud of that, but it isn’t enough,” she said. “I think there are things that go on on every campus including Sarah Lawrence, and clearly there is a lot of pain associated with that.”     So far, there are a total of eleven demands—the complete list can be found on the Facebook event page #BLACKOUTSLC.

Arguably, the most notable demand is that the College create a million-dollar need-based scholarship fund for the recruitment of students of color to campus. Some of the other demands included that the college create a 5-year plan that will increase retention rates for people of color, and also that the college require all students to partake in an anti-racism course for a number of credits.

Student-led activism when it comes to issues of on campus are not new. Present are similarities to the ‘89 Westlands sit-in, during which multiple racialized incidents on campus led to a four day sit-in by students. The demands at the time led the administration to help develop Common Ground, broaden courses to include aspects of Black, Hispanic and Asian history and culture, and hire eight additional black professors and a black admissions officer.

Since #BLACKOUTSLC, Dean Green, Dean Trujillo, and President Lawrence have met with representatives of Blackout SLC regarding demands made. Senior staff and groups such as the General, Admissions and the Diversity committees have been working to address the demands as well. 

Admissions has proposed two initiatives to bring more students of color on campus. One is a web presence designed to enroll more students of color to campus. The second involves working to engage alumni of color in the recruitment of prospective students of color. Members of the General and Diversity Committees will work together to plan for cross-campus dialogue on racial issues. 

Regarding the scholarship fund, the President has stated that while the college has an existing scholarship fund of over a million dollars dedicated to students of color, she said student scholarships were their highest fundraising priority and they will continue to gather additional funds for students of color.

Students who attended #BLACKOUTSLC applauded many of the statements made by the students of color. “I’ll never understand what it is like to be a student of color at this school, which is why it is essential that people with privilege like myself listen to and uplift the voices of marginalized people. Today was wonderful but this is a protracted struggle, and it will take real effort by the entire campus-not just students of color-to make this school an honestly safe space,” said Scarlett Ferman ’17.

“I know this walkout got some attention, but I’m really looking forward to taking part in a upcoming action that would hopefully be intense and large enough to force the administration to act. I can’t imagine how exhausting it is for POC to keep having to explain their struggles to white people, over and over again, and to no avail,” added Hank Broege, an SLC grad student.

Julius Powell left the crowd with an inspiring message: “Hug your black brother or sister today. Remind them of their worth in this world that frequently forgets them. That remembers them only when they are criminalized. Remind them that they are talented, intelligent, capable and strong. Just as capable as the person sitting next to them in the classroom. Just as capable as the white body that stands next to them on stage. Remind them that they matter in your academic environments. Encourage them...equally.”

Joseph McFarland '16

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

'Thank-A-Donor' Week at SLC

The PHIL Project, a student-run committee that focuses on philanthropy. Photo Credit: Lexy Rivera, MFA '15 

The PHIL Project, a student-run committee that focuses on philanthropy. Photo Credit: Lexy Rivera, MFA '15 

Sarah Lawrence isn’t cheap - there’s a $65,000 price tag to prove that. While students complain constantly that the school is too expensive, many may be surprised to know that your tuition doesn’t cover the cost of attending Sarah Lawrence.

“When you factor in […] all of the air-conditioning, and everything from waste removal to faculty salaries, in essence everybody here is getting financial aid,” says Jody Abzug, Senior Director for the Fund for Sarah Lawrence.

This is where donations come in. SLC constantly branches out to alumni and other potential donors.

“We fundraise in as many ways as we possibly can. More and more we try to do personal visits because one-on-one is obviously the best way to encourage anybody to do something because you can answer their questions and you can hopefully change their negativity to positivity and you can evaluate what their interests are or what their disinterests are,” says Abzug.

The other way they fund raise is through phone calls. The SLC Phonathan Callers are students who call alumni asking for their donations.

“I’ve gotten hung up on so many times, but most of the time they are very nice. Every single person who I’ve talked to had at least one good thing to say about Sarah Lawrence, which is huge,” says Danielle Dyen-Shapiro ’18, a Phonathan Caller.

The PHIL Project is a student-run committee that focuses on philanthropy from SLC students. The staff coordinator, Lexy Rivera MFA ’15, is an alum from Sarah Lawrence who worked for the Office of Advancement.

“It’s student run for the most part but I’m the staff coordinator for the Phil Project committee.

“I just started this semester, [..] but the Phil Project itself has been around since 2012,” says Rivera.

An aspect of their organization is planning for “thank-a-donor” week.

“In the fall semester the main thing we’re doing is the “thank-a-donor” week, and so right now the committee has just been preparing for that. It’s a week long initiative, where we try to get more than 500 thank you notes that we’ll send out to donors,” says Lesedi Ntsele ’17.

The students in Phil Project themselves donate to the school, even though they’re not alumni.

“I think Sarah Lawrence helped me out, especially getting me here with the scholarship. That’s one of the reasons why I’m working right now [with Phil Project],” says Cindy Mao, ’19.

The organization puts a lot of effort in educating the student body on why it’s important to donate.

“We’re not just raising money, we’re raising awareness,” says Haoyang Zhang, ’19.

“even if you can’t give much give something because you’re something and my something can add up to something more. So everyone should give something,” says Andrea Davis, ’16.

“I think it’s important to give back. That’s the whole reason that we’re doing this. It’s kind of the season for being thankful and so our slogan is ‘give thanks and give back.’ that’s what’s on all of our flyers,” says Rivera.

If you want to join or inquire email: philproject@gm.slc.edu

 

by Joseph McFarland ‘16

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Ebola epidemic will not affect SLC abroad programs

Ebola virus virion.  Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ebola virus virion.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many Americans have become increasingly paranoid about Ebola over the last few months. Though the rare, deadly disease has affected a very small percentage of people in the United States, it has been unrelentingly brought up by mainstream American media coverage over the past few weeks. It is currently unclear what this means for Sarah Lawrence and other similar colleges, yet concerns on campus are still present.

The outbreak started in early 2014 in the West African countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. The virus did not reach America, however, until Sept. 30 of this year. According to the CDC, the disease is spread through, “direct contact with blood and body fluids of a person already showing symptoms.” Symptoms usually appear a few days after catching the virus. These include muscle pain, headaches, sore throat, and others that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or rashes.

Though news of the outbreak has been met with serious concern, many have attributed the coverage of the disease to hysteria. SLC student Lauren McKarus (‘15) said, "I think this Ebola outbreak has become over sensationalized by the media. I lived through swine flu. I can make it through Ebola.”

There are ways in which the issue could potentially affect SLC. Students from parts of West Africa have attended the school in the past, and students have also gone to West Africa for study abroad programs. Director of International Programs at SLC Prema Samuel said that while plans have not really changed yet, the study abroad office is not ignoring the issue.

Advisory flier for Ebola in Health Services  Photo by Janaki Chadha '17

Advisory flier for Ebola in Health Services

Photo by Janaki Chadha '17

"There are programs that are still running. Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana…there's concern, but most of these programs tend to be self-contained,” said Samuel. She added  that, “some programs like NYU did not run their programs in Ghana.” She continued, "It's a wait and see kind of a game because no one really knows what's happening. Every day we're getting more information on the situation.”

While no action on the subject has taken place, the office has had to deal with the issue of possibly canceling programs. Assistant Director of the International and Exchange Programs Christopher Olson said, “We had a representative from a certain program call us today, asking if he should still come and promote the program, saying [that] obviously he's worried about the same thing everyone else is worried about...along the lines of 'is it fair to even promote the program when I know it might be canceled and should I come talk to your students and tell them it's going to be okay'."

In the health center, Mary Hartnett and Cynthia Schaffer have been paying close attention to CDC guidelines and making sure that SLC would be prepared in the case of an infected patient on campus. "[We've been] asking people to self identify in order for a risk assessment to be done," said Hartnett, Director of Medical Services at the college.

She elaborated on how one of the main problems is finding out who is truly at risk. Part of the reason for the paranoia may be due to the fact that the symptoms could mean a myriad of other conditions, like a cold. The generic symptoms for such a deadly disease makes every cough seem like a threat.

Schaffer, a Nurse Practitioner at SLC, said, "When someone says, I have body aches and I have a fever, I mean, they could be coming down with a cold, they could be coming down with a flu, they could have a stomach virus […] you don't want people to panic and feel like that's a definitive thing. You get on WebMD and if you put 'headache' it lists everything from headache to meningitis to Ebola at this point.”

The CDC does not recommend that colleges quarantine students, faculty, or staff simply based on travel history. At SLC, the health center only considers someone at risk if they present symptoms and have a risky travel history. The policy is then to isolate the student.

Hartnett said, "We do not have the facility here to treat, or even to diagnose. We only identify risk factors, and then we call in the higher level of assessment and higher level of skill at that point which is the Department of Health and the CDC.”

Sarah Lawrence students generally agree that the American media is not handling information on the disease well. Senior Class President Stephanie Permut ('15) said, "I think that while [Ebola] is dangerous and has wreaked havoc throughout West Africa and that's a problem, the dialogue shouldn't really be around contingency planning for Americans but rather improving infrastructure there so that disease epicenters can be curtailed, rather than freaking out over containment of the U.S. relative to those place."

Adam Treitler ('15) said, "I've studied bioethics here. I've studied biology, I've studied public policy, and clearly we are not prepared for something like Ebola." He pointed out that viruses like enterovirus have killed more people on U.S. soil than Ebola, but that the media isn't discussing those viruses as extensively. "We're just becoming so racist and xenophobic, that we're literally racist towards diseases," Treitler said. He continued, "I think there's this idea that when white people start getting it it's bad. You know, it's okay if it's over in Africa killing ten thousand people."

Amidst the concern, hysteria and controversy, the issue has also had made its way into the classroom. Michelle Hersh, Professor of Biology, said that she has been thinking about the disease from the perspective of a scientist, and has brought the issue up in some of her classes. She still added, however, "The chances of a student from Sarah Lawrence contracting Ebola are very very very very small."  

by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Handicap friendly changes coming to SLC

The handicap friendly courtyard in the Esther Raushenbush library.   Photo by Julia Schur '15

The handicap friendly courtyard in the Esther Raushenbush library. 

Photo by Julia Schur '15

Many buildings at Sarah Lawrence were built before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) passed, and the evidence can be seen in door widths, faculty office locations, and bathroom sink heights.

President Karen Lawrence said, "One of the things about Sarah Lawrence is that we have beautiful old buildings that were never constructed with this in mind, and that makes it hard for us to retrofit every building. We do have a five-year plan to make buildings ADA accessible and that does not depend on donor funding. As a college, we want to do that and we need to do that.”

Until last year, Associate Dean of Studies & Disability Services Polly Waldman had an office on the second floor of Westlands that was not wheelchair accessible. When she got the job in 2006, the position was a new one at SLC. "It was created and I was hired. I had directed disability services at another college," said Waldman.

She now works closely with students of any disability, as early in the school-year as possible. Her office is also now much more accessible. "I set up a confidential file here. It's not part of a student's permanent record. No information gets shared to their faculty without written permission, and so I sit and work with each student individually once they have their classes, and we determine what accommodations they may need, what they're entitled to and what they benefit from, so then we write a letter together," she said.

While many of Sarah Lawrence's buildings remain fairly old, disability awareness has spread significantly throughout campus over the last decade. Around 2005, an SLC student group called Beyond Compliance formed. It was, "dedicated to raising disability consciousness on our campus." Today, a group on campus called Disability Alliance advocates for accessibility and respect for people with disabilities.

Rebecca Gross ('17) is the current head of Disability Alliance. She attended the group last year and eventually the group asked her to coach. "I actually went to a high school that specialized in learning disabilities,” said Ross, “so I've always been a very loud and proud advocate and I'm not ashamed of any disabilities that I have," she said. The group discussions and activities vary from week to week, and helps bring them together.

"We're sort of 50% activism and 50% community, so we want to create events to raise awareness about disability issues and disability rights issues, as well as just creating a comfortable environment where people don't feel like they have anything that they are supposed to hide or they're going to be judged for, which sadly often elsewhere can happen," said Gross.

Disability awareness also plays an important role in our curriculum. Sarah Wilcox, a sociology professor at Sarah Lawrence, has taught a few classes on disability. "Because one of my main areas is medical sociology and questions of health and illness disabilities come up in my classes in a lot of different ways," Wilcox explained.

Wilcox has spoken with many of the members of Disability Alliance, and said she has had a growing connection over the years to disability services and advocacy on campus. "There has been a number of trends that were independent but that have come together in a very synergistic way," she said.

More subtle changes have also shown up on campus over the last few years. For example, at the library underneath the walkway there is a garden, and until recently there was not a paved path; the garden is now wheelchair accessible. There are also two new handicap parking spaces outside the PAC this year.

The renovations around campus are part of a five-year strategic plan to bring SLC up to ADA standards. Kyle Wilkie, Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations and Planning wrote, “Every renovation that the college plans has persons with disabilities in mind. Aside from the less obvious architectural elements, we also consider which materials, furniture, fixtures, and equipment would be best for persons with disabilities.” Many people believe that ADA has a clause stating that something "grandfathered in," meaning something built before ADA existed, does not need to have improvements made. In reality, it has been required for facility executives since Jan. 26, 1992 to begin renovations.

According to Adata.org, the ADA has a provision called Safe Harbor which states that modifications don’t need to be made for a building that complies with 1991 standards. Renovations, however, always need to be brought up to 2010 standards.

Cait Chamberlin (‘16) has a temporarily broken foot. To get to classes, she has to call Public Safety to drive her. She claimed it is not a perfect system, however, since Public Safety is not exclusively for accessibility services. "Sometimes they have to stop an alarm from going off. Often times they'll be transporting me, but they also have their other duties," she said.

As the college continues on its five-year strategic plan, students and prospective students will hopefully see more accessibility and acceptance for any form of diversity on campus.


by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Tea Haus operates under new management

Once serving as William and Sarah Lawrence's open air gazebo called the "summer house,” The Tea Haus has been around since before the founding of the college, but recently, some of the Tea Haus employees have noticed a change of pace in the space.

Sommer Mahoney (‘18), a shift worker, said, "I think there's actually a more diverse flow of people these days, especially lately. I've been getting a lot of people who've been coming in saying  'Hey I've never been here before' which is unusual because usually the Tea Haus starts to attract its own crowd.”

  Another change is that the Tea Haus has now become even more affordable.  "Everything is a dollar this year,” said, Meg Trask (‘15), one of the Tea Haus managers, “and that is another way to make sure that its welcoming to everyone.” She continued, “Because lot of people don't really carry cash on them, people can [now] start a tab."

  This year, there have also been minor changes to the Tea Haus physically. The desk that once stood to the side of the entrance is now further into the room. "One thing that we noticed happening with the original positioning was that people would be in line and they would fill up the doorway and there would be some trouble getting people in and out," said Trask. The Tea Haus now allows for a more inward flow of customers, allowing visitors to get a fuller experience of the space and be more encouraged to stay.

  There is a continual drive to make the Tea House more of an open space to foster more of a community. In the 1940s the Tea Haus was called "The Community House" and had student organizations that met inside. Throughout the years the Tea Haus has remained a community space. The managers are now trying to create more of a community for the student workers by improving communication between them. “I don't necessarily see our shift workers on a day-to-day basis or even when I come in for my shift so it's been really nice," said Mahoney.

  A 'safe space' is a space on campus that is designated as a welcoming and respectful space to all students. The Tea Haus has been designated as a safe space on campus. "I think that in general Sarah Lawrence strives to be a safe space, meaning that no one feels discriminated against and no one feels uncomfortable, but I think that it's important to have designated safe spaces" said Trask.

  The reason making the Tea Haus safe space that a few of the shift workers pointed out was that with a designated safe space they have justification to enforce certain codes of conduct as a worker in the space. "If someone says some sort of remark you can't necessarily call them out and be like 'I really need you not to say this here',”said Mahoney. “People would be like, 'what's your problem? We're just hanging out on the north lawn.' Well, actually in the Tea Haus...you can say something like this: It's just a space where we don't even […] play with certain sorts of language."

  Reinforcing the fact that it is a safe space, along with the new physical alterations and the attempt for a better community not just for the customers but for the shift workers is part of an ongoing process to make the Tea Haus feel like more of an open space on campus for everyone. Paige Fernandez (‘17), a shift worker, said, "It feels really homey and every time I come in here I just get really happy and I think its a place that's very relaxing and the community is really supportive.”

by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

 

Bronxville: College Town USA

Bronxville is not usually considered a college town among Sarah Lawrence students.

Grace Shun '17 depicts a Sarah Lawrence student's experience in Bronxville.

Grace Shun '17 depicts a Sarah Lawrence student's experience in Bronxville.

"It seems like a small town that has a college in it, as opposed to an actual college town," says Katie Cheeseman ’16.

“I go to the movie theater a lot," says Aili Arnell ’14.

Often Bronxville seems like the place students walk past to get to the Metro North, as there does not seem to be much entertainment.  The movie theater, next to the restaurants, seems to be the only form of entertainment in Bronxville for most Sarah Lawrence students.

A college town is a town where a nearby school permeates the social and economic presence, often with a fun community geared towards the nearby college students. While Bronxville does have a fair number of businesses with college discounts, it is nothing to brag about. Most of them are only ten percent off. College towns also often showcase the nearby college culture in some way.

"It seems like a family town really. We're not really intermixed with the actual town," says Amaris Smith ’17.

"Bronxville is a fairly conservative community, and Sarah Lawrence is a fairly liberal college," says Judith Schwartzstein, Director of Public Affairs at Sarah Lawrence.

 "It doesn't have restaurants per se that fit a college budget or things like that so it's a town that I really enjoy being in but I wouldn't exactly say it's meant for Sarah Lawrence," Says Ali Weinstein ’17.

Places like Lawrence Hospital or Lawrence Park were founded by the same man who founded Sarah Lawrence, William Van Duzer Lawrence.

"There are a lot of historical ties between the founder's family and the village of Bronxville," says Schwartzstein.

William, a pharmaceutical mogul, was extremely wealthy and heavily influenced the Bronxville community. In 1890, William Lawrence purchased an 86 acre farm. Part of it would later become Lawrence Park. Lawrence Hospital was established in 1909 after William Lawrence's son, Dudley, almost died on the way to a hospital in New York City. Today, the Lawrence Hospital is still used by the college. Health Services has a nurse practitioner with privileges to the hospital, and Annie Galloway is a doctor who is usually informed when a Sarah Lawrence student is admitted into the hospital.

Despite Lawrence's heavy influence on Bronxville, a dividing, "town and gown" relationship quickly formed between the residents of Bronxville and the students of Sarah Lawrence.

In May 1929, when Sarah Lawrence College wanted to buy two buildings to expand further into Lawrence Park. The Lawrence Park community protested, claiming that the college girls were too noisy. They said the silence had been abolished by late parties, noisy ukeleles, too many automobiles, and 'petting parties' (making out) on the streets.

"They play jazz all hours of the day and night," one of the neighbors had complained.

The two buildings, assumed to be Warren and Perkins, were bought by Sarah Lawrence, which irritated the neighbors.

Sarah Lawrence is technically in Yonkers, not Bronxville. However, the Sarah Lawrence address is listed as 1 Mead Way, Bronxville, NY 10708. Many faculty and students believe think this is because Sarah Lawrence detests association with Yonkers.

The Yonkers Chamber of Commerce asked the school in 1958 to have "Yonkers, N.Y.," in their address instead of "Bronxville," criticizing the school of going out of its way to create the illusion it was Bronxville, even though the college is within the limits of Yonkers.

Harold Taylor, the president of Sarah Lawrence from 1945 to 1959, explained to the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce that the reason was to save time and money for the Post Office employees, since the mail is received in Bronxville. 

Sarah Lawrence still, however, shows signs of being in Yonkers.

"All our municipal services is in Yonkers," says Schwartzstein.

Sarah Lawrence still follows Yonkers ordinances as well. In 1999, the Avalon Bay Communities business in Bronxville leased four apartments to 24 Sarah Lawrence students. Residents and village officials were apprehensive. They never suspected that any of the apartments would turn into a Sarah Lawrence dorm. It was stressed that the housing was a very short-term solution, and the students would likely be moved back on campus by next semester.

Two years later, in June of 2001, Hill House was bought by Sarah Lawrence, alleviating the overcrowding issue into Bronxville.

While Bronxville doesn't seem like a stereotypical college town, over the last few years, Sarah Lawrence has tried to strengthen the relationship with Bronxville. A program started a few years ago called, "Bronxville is a college town," which was a college discount program. SLC students often frequent Bronxville cafes or restaurants. CVS and Swizzles Frozen Yogurt even accept 1Cards. Bronxville bulletin boards are occasionally plastered with advertisements for PAC performers and with things such as Sarah Lawrence's InTouch magazine.

 "This is a vehicle for relaying news about our community externally," says Schwartzstein.

Two offices of Advancement and Alumni relations will also soon be moving off campus and into Bronxville.

"The mayor of Bronxville and many of the businesses in Bronxville are very happy to see this happen," says Schwartzstein. "We have many supporters of the college who are Bronxville residents, including some of our trustees. We have lots of people who do come to our events and are happy to be in the Sarah Lawrence area.”

by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

art by Grace Shun '17
gshun@gm.slc.edu
www.graceshun.com

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Areas on campus under construction due to unsafe walkways

The recently blocked off entrance to the pub with the caution tape surrounding it has led some students to worry. Maintenance workers, even employees at the pub, were also puzzled by the barriers. 

No, a crime was not committed outside of the pub—it is blocked off simply due to an issue with cracked stones. An outside contractor explained that they were responsible for the caution tape. He explained that it was due to the water freezing over and cracking the stones over winter.

Cracked stones pose a problem for the SLC community, as students and faculty alike must walk along these paths to traverse the campus. The pub is not the only area that was recently blocked off for renovation. Other areas undergoing work right now include the space outside of the PAC and the space beside Westlands. 

According to the contractor, this is done almost every year around spring time. With the increased number of students and tour groups, the college wants to play it safe and replace the stones to avoid tripping and potential injury.

by Joseph McFarland '16
jmcfarland@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.