Dear Anne -
I find it interesting that you elevate pearls and cashmere as status symbols - two commodities that have their origins in China, India and Pakistan - but degrade women that come from those same places.
We’ve both been away from Smith for a long time, and it’s changed in ways that are sometimes hard to witness. I don’t agree with you that the increase in diversity at Smith is a bad thing (quite the opposite!), but I remember the anger I felt at the demise of the house dining system, my worries about moving houses and constructing new buildings, and my embarrassed confusion over the relationship between a women’s college and the new gender spectrum. I remember, too, how it felt to be a student: how intransigent adults seemed, how the faculty were never radical enough or supportive enough of our causes, how the world just didn’t change fast enough. Smith is not a perfect institution. Each generation brings change to Smith, and each generation must accept the changes that come after them. I’m so grateful that passion is still evident in Smith students today, and that Smith is strong enough to change when it needs to. I continue to love Smith even as it changes, because the fundamental principle is the same: Women’s Minds Matter.
I’ll admit that I fit into your categorization of Smith students: I’m an A. But I was also a Parsonite, a Rugger, a singer, the co-founder of the Bad Seeds, an A student (except for a B in Biochemistry - my proudest grade), and I graduated in the class of 1994 cum laude and phi beta kappa. I thankfully received financial help from my family, work study, and took out student loans that I’m still paying. I’ve done a lot of things since Smith. Perhaps the most impressive worldly accomplishment is getting elected to the Common Council of my city. I can confidently say that Smith helped make me who I am. I came to Smith a white woman who thought she knew about diversity, about racism. I learned the hard way that I had a lot more to learn, and I’m eternally indebted to my sister Smithies for helping me figure that out and helping me learn how to be anti-racist. I’m still learning from Smithies - whether it’s your classmate Tammy Baldwin, who I hope will be my Senator soon, or the women on this site, who have brought tears to my eyes with their fierce love for Smith and each other.
Oh, and I haven’t made enough money, nor am I likely to, to build a building at Smith, but if I ever do it won’t carry my name. How does “Otelia and Adelaide Cromwell Hall” sound? How about “Steinem House” or “Child Kitchen”? Maybe “Plath Library”? Smithies of the ’90s might want “Drumke Radio Studio”. I could go on, because there’s so many accomplished Smithies, but I think you get the point.
In hopes that you’ve learned from this experience,
SRC, Class of 1994