A Flag and Race at Bryn Mawr

Kaitlin Mulhere, Inside Higher Ed, October 6, 2014

A debate about a Confederate flag two students put up in their dorm room at Bryn Mawr College has escalated to a demonstration involving hundreds and a broader debate about diversity and inclusiveness at the institution.

Those students who donned black and held homemade signs in the protest after the flag incident want it known that they’re not finished yet.

Many minority students feel that their voices aren’t valued or highlighted on campus, and they want the college to acknowledge their concerns, said Allegra Massaro, a senior and president of the Tri-College Chapter of the NAACP.

“These issues are not limited to Bryn Mawr’s campus,” Massaro said. “They exist for students of color at a lot of elite universities.”

In response, the administration has written a series of community letters, and last week, President Kimberly Cassidy pledged that change would come, starting with re-creating a diversity council to focus on handling issues of bias and re-examining how college’s honor code can better address them.

Cassidy told Inside Higher Ed that it was frustrating to watch Bryn Mawr’s minority students go through such a painful experience, and that college leaders shared their goals.

“I don’t see what the students are asking about as demands,” she said. “In terms of what they’re looking to do, those are the very same things that we’re looking to do.”


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, 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.


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.

“So now you have this incident and these people’s freedom of speech disrupting the whole purpose of the college,” Massaro said.

By the end of the week, student leaders organized a demonstration, in which more than 500 students, administrators, faculty members, alumnae and trustees participated and made a human chain around one of the main buildings on campus.


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).


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.


Debates over displaying Confederate flags on campus aren’t uncommon. But they’re more often seen at Southern colleges in states where Confederate culture was historically associated with the institution–as opposed to a women’s liberal arts college outside Philadelphia that prides itself on being progressive.


Bryn Mawr has roughly 1,300 undergraduate students. About 37 percent of those students are white. African-American and mixed race students each represent about 5 percent, and Asian-American and Latina make up roughly 10 percent each. Another 23 percent are listed as non-resident aliens and 10 percent as unknown.

The college prides itself on being a majority minority campus. But when those groups don’t feel comfortable or valued on campus, statistics don’t mean anything beyond an admissions selling point, an ability to market a diverse climate, Massaro said.

“Colleges work really hard to get their numbers up there,” she said. “But then when those students are here, what are you doing to make them feel comfortable? And Bryn Mawr’s not doing much.”


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  • AmericanCitizen

    We’re officially a nation of pussies. The article mentions that some students had to go home for a few days and teachers should be lenient towards those who missed classes and assignments because they were too upset and the very act of looking at the flag caused unbearable stress.

    During WW2 18 and 19 and 20 year olds performed heroic feats, withstood horrible conditions and watched friends die in combat, only to march on and fight to victory. Today’s young adults cry and run away and get mental trauma looking at the Confederate Flag.

    • B.A_2014

      They probably went home to lounge around at ma n das house, to feed and sleep for free.

      • bilderbuster

        Granma’s house.
        Daddy gone an Mama always out.

    • Sick of it

      “During WW2 18 and 19 and 20 year olds performed heroic feats, withstood
      horrible conditions and watched friends die in combat, only to march on
      and fight to victory.”

      Victory for the other side. Victory for the devil.

    • dukem1

      God help them when the jihadists arrive.

    • bilderbuster

      You have to keep in mind it’s a majority minority college (only an over educated idiot could come up with that one) where “The racists stressed me” is a better excuse than “The dog ate my homework”.

    • texasoysterman

      Yeah, they need a supply of fainting couches at that “school.”

    • TruthBeTold

      This was a set up.

      Why would these people hang this flag in a pubic space and then feign ignorance about their actions? ‘We didn’t know. We didn’t mean any harm’.


      Dig deeper and you’ll find the provocateurs who planned this.

      The media is all to happy to present this story as fact without investigating further.

      A reporter looking for the truth would have asked tough questions.

      • HE2

        Aha, Truthbe. You are thinking but another freaking hoax?
        I didn’t think of that.

        Why would these people hang this flag in a pubic space

        Come to think of it, hanging it a pubic space might explain the shock and horror.

  • Cassidy told Inside Higher Ed that it was frustrating to watch Bryn Mawr’s minority students go through such a painful experience, and that college leaders shared their goals.

    Were they crime victims?

    Oops, I forgot. These are the same kind of people who are traumatized by the sight of cotton balls on a sidewalk.

    • propagandaoftruth

      It’s the passive aggressive libtard bullying thing.

      Muerte a la “intelligentsia”, viva la muerte.

      It’s as if that obscure Spanish Falangista had some kind of vision of the future of “education”.

    • rightrightright

      Any expression of White identity, no matter how mild, is a painful experience to the failed-worlders.

      Unless it is apologetic.

  • anony

    A nation of wimps!

    Once again, free speech is trampled under the feet of diversity.

    These wimps need some hard times to toughen them up a little.

  • Adolf Verloc

    The students were out of line in hanging the flag in a public area of the dormitory, although I am sure that nobody would have been excited if it had been a flag of Aztlan or the Republic of New Africa. What they put in their dorm room should be their own business. Some pretty ballsy students IMHO.

    • Usually Much Calmer

      Ms. Kimberly Cassidy seems to be gracious while firm, this may end nicely. We’ll see.

    • LHathaway

      Someone told them to do it. There’s no way else to get racism at an all women’s college, unless there’s a guest male speaker or something. These incidents have made the news every year for 30 years now at least, probably since forever. Punish one, teach a million. It will be news here and there around the country. One of these incidents will be.The staff will double minority hiring, increase AA for new students, preach about hate (that is not officially sanctioned by the U and taught in class), sponsor an extra minority pride event and promise to make the curriculum even more anti-white. The very real unpleasant actions of students of colors will be taken less seriously than words spoken by whites.

  • B.A_2014

    solidarity from Northern Ireland. Do not give an inch to the ignorant lefty hordes.

    • Ngati Pakeha

      For God and for Ulster!

      • B.A_2014

        Not something you would hear me saying that often to be honest but hands across the divide anyway lol

  • LHathaway

    haha, they call their attack on these students ‘inclusiveness’. It’s all part of them giving us a lesson on ‘tolerance’. While they are being ‘inclusive’ how about they start up a white student union on campus. Just one. Just one white organization of any kind on campus. Something tells me their commitment to diversity is not as strong as they would pretend.

  • JohnEngelman

    Blacks who got into Bryn Mawr College on affirmative action do not belong, so what they want or do not want should not matter.

  • DaveMed

    No wonder the “Diversity” industry is blossoming.

    It would seem that there’s not much else college-educated (:eyeroll:) Blacks and Hispanics can do apart from being professional whiners and agitators.

    At least a lot of the less-educated Hispanics do honest work in car repair shops, lawn services, and the like. (Not that I’m in favor of them being here, mind you.)

  • Believe me since I came from a similar university culture when I worked, the administrators and faculty encourage student outrage. The destruction of the white male and the turning over white women to blacks and browns is the agenda.

    You can bet there’ll be white girls at the protests screwing black males afterward to atone for their whiteness. You can bet those girls will never have a traditional marriage with a white male. The administrators will blow up anything to create the “crisis” to achieve the desired end.

    NEVER donate money to any university or college.

    • LHathaway

      Actually, these girls colleges may be one place where white girls are not hooking up with men of color as fast as they can. I remember watching a girls HS track meet once. There were several girls teams represented, of course. The girls from the all girls school seemed surprised that the girls from the other squad had mostly black boyfriends.

  • MekongDelta69

    “I’m stressed.” “I’m going home.” “I can’t think straight.” “I’m offended beyond comprehension.” “I have to protest (…so I won’t have to take any tests or go to class…)” “I have a case of the vapors and am about to vomit and pass out.”

    Oh the horror, the horror. Have you EVER seen a generation of wusses and weenies like this?

    “Diversity and tolerance and inclusiveness at the institution.”
    Unless you’re… White

    • HE2

      Oh puh-leeze. Anyone with a stress threshold this low needs a psych evaluation and perhaps a few pills.

  • IstvanIN

    Change the name of the college from Bryn Mawr to Kilima Kubwa, that should make everyone happy.

  • Malgus

    Couple Southerners hang a Confederate battle flag in a Yankee women’s “progressive” liberal arts college… near Philadelphia??

    BAHHH-HAHAHAHAH!!! AWESOME trolling! Two of us Southerners successfully neutralized an entire “college” simply by hanging up a colored piece of cloth… almost too easy…

  • QueFah

    It’s shocking that this liberal, dyke infested college, had anyone sensible enough to fly the stars and bars … fly on ladies …

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    “My Black American Sociological Perspectives class, where we literally watch video”

    Hate Whitey videos, no doubt, that make sure you’re an an angry, bitter victim for the rest of your life.

    It’s certainly obvious that proper grammar is neither taught nor enforced at Bryn Mawr.

    Students should be advised that the only flags acceptable are the Mexican flag, black panther flag, the rainbow flag and ISIS flag.

    “Intolerance is not welcome here.” says the protest sign.

    Au contraire: Intolerance is welcomed, encouraged, promoted and enforced by PC warriors at this silly leftist outpost that dares to call itself an institute of higher learning.

    According to FIRE:

    Bryn Mawr College has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.

    The administration in an e-mail urged professors to go easy on students who were tardy or late with assignments because of the stress of the situation.

    Well, hell, I know I’d need MY smelling salts and fainting couch if I were subjected to such stress.

  • jim

    This is satire, right?

  • BillMillerTime

    I like the Confederate Battle Flag if for no other reason than that it drives liberals crazy (even crazier than they are already).

  • If the educational/political establishment would stop making such a big fuss about it, the students would not be so “traumatized.” If blacks have the right to be proud of their heritage, then so do Southern whites.

    • propagandaoftruth

      Southern Jews fought and died for the Confederacy. Helped run it to – Judah Benjamin. Got a Charlestonian Sephard way way back in my woodpile. Almost certain a beloved uncle (Ben…) was of converso Sephardic stock. Presbyterian, you know.

      Funny during WW2 when the Jewish soldiers kept asking if he wanted to go to synagogue with them, lol. Uncle Benjamin was a great Southern White man and understood the real negro, loved his state, his home, and was a deacon in his church. David Ricardo but more straw boss than economist, though he was good with the money…

      Many Jews down here love that flag. Old stock and sensible refugees from libtardland as well.

  • MBlanc46

    Bryn Mawr used to be a place where middle-class Americans would be glad to have their daughters educated. Now apparently, the administration and most of the students are nutjobs.

  • Tim

    “Mason-Dixon Line- The demarcation boundary between Y`all and You`se Guys…”

  • HE2

    I could not read this past the first paragraph.

    These young women are being asked to set aside a bit of their proud history and heritage to pacify the tender feelings of racist White libtards and blacks.
    No, proud Southerners, do not cave in.

    • LHathaway

      Which northerners or friends of the northerners would be interested in the rebel flag? They need to rally around the flag of whiteness and form a white student union. Diversity demands it. If these student groups for other races are the definition of diversity, and diversities expression on campus, diversity surely requires white student groups too.

      One thing is certain. All these activist, scholar, and right-thinkers gathering sure don’t have to look far in order to find injustice or inequality.

      • HE2

        I am all for the establishment of White Student Unions.

        But, if liberals and mystery meat coloreds cannot look upon a symbol, the rebel flag, without suffering PTSD, it does not seem likely their fragile nervous systems would withstand a notice on the activities board announcing a meeting of the campus WSU.

        It is worth a try, though.

      • anony

        You’re being way too logical and reasonable.

  • LHathaway

    It’s apparently a girls college. One where whites girls are one minority among many, if the are not simply the minority.

  • Fair Dinkum

    What’s the problem, Bryn Mawr? That diversity thing isn’t working out for you?

  • ncpride

    Sickening to read some of the comments on the original article. People who think they are so intelligent and enlightened post some of the most ignorant , leftist nonsense I’ve ever read, particularly about the South and Southern people. What they really represent is brainwashed, White guilt ridden morons.

  • William Hinkle

    Nothing more than ‘cultural marxism’. Hoping the students plaster Confederate Flags all over the campus.

  • WR_the_realist

    I don’t think anybody seriously believes that any students suffered greatly from seeing the Confederate flag. They did score big diversity points by claiming to have suffered, though.

  • crockadoodle6

    As soon as these entitled rich girls lose the security of a gated community they will get a lesson in racial behavior that’s not available even in their honors courses. Then, my guess is that they too will be flying a symbol of self-determination,, if they still have a heart beat.

  • TL2014

    “A great deal of stress” caused by an effin flag?

    We are screwed. Parents, quit sending your kids t these rotten institutions.

  • anony

    “Stress”? Wait until real life slaps them in the face.