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A Point of Difference: Diversity at Bryn Mawr College

Juliet Jeter: From a Staff Member's Point of View

Interview with Juliet Jeter, Part 1

Juliet Jeter is a lifetime resident of Bryn Mawr, PA. She began working at Bryn Mawr College in 1983 as the Payroll Supervisor, and in 1985 became an Information Specialist in the Development Office. Lauren Footman conducted an oral history interview with her in July, 2013.

Interview with Juliet Jeter, Part 2

"When I was a child we were always told Bryn Mawr was an elite, prestigious college."

Juliet reflects on growing up as an African American resident in the town of Bryn Mawr, and recalls local perceptions of the College. She shares that the campus was said to be reserved for a certain type of person, which was white, and wealthy. She says that College was known to be an exclusive institution, and it was clear who was not welcomed on the campus.

"I dont think sometimes staff of color are recognized for their worth here at the College"

Here she reflects on her staff experience at the College. She often feels that the accomplishments of staff of color go unacknowledged. Though they are just as competent, and work just as hard as their white colleagues, she feels that their white colleagues are often celebrated more. Acknowledging that the discrepancy of recognition may be enacted subconsciously, Jeter reports that this is the feeling the work environment creates for her, and notes that the College should be more cognizant of the experience of staff of color. She thinks that the College might be more diverse in composition than it once was, but many staff lack a feeling of inclusiveness.

 

"I think you should stop and say 'do you know what you just said?'"

Jeter suggests that community members should use uncomfortable situations around diversity as teaching moments, and express their concerns through direct confrontation. She thinks that community members should feel empowered to share if they are offended by actions of their peers, because that is the only way people will learn. Jeter says that everyone should be willing to take on this responsibility to help make Bryn Mawr a more inclusive community. She recommends that the College have mandatory diversity training for faculty and staff, to show that diversity is essential to the progress of the community.

 

"You need to know about diversity."

Jeter believes that for people to be able to work effectively together, they must be willing to learn about the cultures of others. She does understand that sometimes people might not have the same cultural context or past experiences as another, but everyone should be willing to work together to understand one another. She often feels that this is an element that is missing at Bryn Mawr.

 

"When I came here to Bryn Mawr College I saw a more diverse community"

Jeter explains that when she arrived at Bryn Mawr it was very different than what she expected. She found that the perceptions of Bryn Mawr that she heard as a youth were not reflective of the reality of the current campus composition. She explains that once she arrived to campus as an employee she was happy to see that the College was more diverse than she had expected, and that the perceptions were not correct. Bryn Mawr seemed to be a different institution from the one that she had learned about as a child. She saw that people came from a variety of racial and religious backgrounds, which showed improvement from how it had been during her own experience applying for colleges.