Tri-Co Institute and Swarthmore Summer Institute in Planning Stages

This year’s Tri-College Summer Institute will no longer be open to students from all three colleges, as announced recently by Dean of Students Liz Braun. The Institute focuses on conversations about race, gender, class, privilege and leadership; both Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges have chosen to pursue “programmatic and structural” reforms.

The Tri-College Summer Institute has traditionally been held the week preceding orientation, and was sponsored by the three colleges. Administrators and current students led workshops and seminars that help first years become “effective allies for justice” in the college communities, according the Dean’s Office.

Dean of Bryn Mawr College Michele Rasmussen says that she wants to hold a revamped Tri-Co Institute over fall break, and plans to extend an invitation to Swarthmore students as well as the bi-college community.

Part of Rasmussen’s strategy is to “add liveliness” to fall break, and embrace it as a time to provide alternative programming for the students that choose to stay on campus. Rasmussen says that this will make the program slightly longer, and offer time to both broaden and deepen the conversations had there.

New types of programming and content are still “up for discussion.” Rasmussen plans to run brainstorming sessions with students to develop new ideas, and will “assess and evaluate” the new model as it takes shape.

Braun also seeks a “full community conversation” about how the Swarthmore College Summer Institute will be run. Part of this conversation will be an examination of the relationship between the Institute and orientation, and how “to make those types of conversations and experiences available to an even larger group of students.”

“What will remain the same is the depth of the conversations that are had and the connections that are made at [the Summer Institute],” Braun said in an interview. “It’s a really exciting way for someone to launch their college career.”

However, the Deans are committed to continuing collaboration through the tri-college task force, on both the Institute and other programming on related topics.

“I think there’s something really neat about making those connections across the three schools,” said Braun.

In the meantime, Braun will be working closely with Assistant Dean and Gender Education Advisor Karen Henry and Assistant Dean and Director of Multicultural Affairs Rafael Zapata to develop the summer curriculum.

Braun says she’s passionate about the Institute and wants to hear from individual students. “Are there missed opportunities [in the programming]? Are there things that are working well?”