An Interview On
Bard College

Background

Interview Date:April 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: African-American
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2022
High School Experience: Public school in Atlanta, Georgia with a graduating class of about 450 students. There wasn’t necessarily a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Studio Arts with a Concentration in Africana Studies
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in the Black Student Organization (BSO), the Caribbean Student Association (CSA), I’m part of the Bard Barbers, and I’m currently working at Gilson [Place]. [Gilson Place was formerly called Grey Stone Cottage.]

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Working at the cottage has had an impact on my experience, along with being a leader in the BSO. Gilson is the new spot for people of color on campus, and it shows me there’s still a sense of community even away from home. That helps me with my personal experience on campus, and it has also introduced me to a lot of new people that I’ve never met before. BSO has given me the leadership I needed to be part of the campus. We do things that impact the campus like having cookouts where everyone can come.

Academic Experience

What has been your favorite class you’ve taken?
Overall, Sexualities is my favorite class right now. It’s a Sociology class, and I love it because it’s broadening my experiences with things in society that I knew nothing about before coming to Bard. I really like the readings we do, they are very intense but give me a different point of view that I’ve never had before. I have the class twice a week, and on average, there are about 60 pages of reading before the next class.

Is there anything that you feel Bard has done especially well or especially poorly so far academically?
Academically, Bard has provided quality readings and materials for the classes. The only thing I’d say, is that picking an advisor is hard to do. I think this is more of a personal issue than a Bard issue. Academically, I don’t think Bard has failed me yet.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I don’t think Bard’s learning environment is competitive at all. Here, everyone is doing their own thing and it’s very encouraging because if we struggle, everyone struggles together. It’s not like anyone is trying to get a step forward, and I appreciate this. There are so many places on campus where I can express my struggle, such as the library.

How accessible are your professors?
They are very accessible and they always tell us their office hours. If they have office hours, they are always there, so it’s just up to me whether I want to go to them or not. They email me back within the next day, or even the same day, and I can stay after class to talk with them.

How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there any resources or systems in place that helped you adapt?
I think the Language & Thinking Program (L&T) was a big help with my transition academically. It especially prepared me for the readings in our actual courses, and writing essays in Bard’s format. It helped me get used to Bard’s expectations. The transition wasn’t that hard for me, I just always struggled with writing essays and the amount of readings. [L&T is an intensive introduction to the liberal arts and sciences with a focus on writing, mandatory for all incoming Bard students.]

Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’ve always been an artist, so it was a no-brainer for me to do Studio Arts. So far, my experience has been a little shaky because the structure of the classes is a little different than what I’m used to. I think this is the teaching style of professors. In my earlier years, it was a free-form kind of class where we were given a prompt, and we could do as we pleased. Now, I feel like it’s more structured where we follow after what the professor does.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: North campus in Hirsch Hall with one roommate. There are about 26 people in the house.

How was transitioning from Atlanta to Annandale-on-Hudson, NY?
It was a little shaky at first. I’m so used to the fast-paced city, but coming up here it’s slower, calmer, quieter, and [is surrounded] by nature. I’ve enjoyed it here because it actually gives me time to think without everything moving so fast around me.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
There was a point where I didn’t feel safe because there was drama between different races on campus, but once we resolved that I felt safe. [Editor’s note: Current issues of Bard’s newspaper, The Bard Free Press, are not online due to technical difficulties. Because of this, we cannot provide any evidence of the racial unrest on campus.]

Pros and Cons of being in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY?
Pros:
1) I really like the fact that I can go to Blithewood and see the mouth of the river.
2) I like that it’s in nature in the middle of nowhere.

Cons:
1) We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere, so we either have to buy a Zipcar, take the shuttle, or Uber or Lyft which costs money.
2) Bard is its own little bubble, so I’m kind of disconnected from things around me.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Bard?
If I’m not doing organized club parties or events, I’m pretty much in my room painting, studying, or hanging out with people in the campus center. We go to the George Ballroom and watch anime on the big TV, sometimes we’ll play Mario Kart, or just eat and catch up with everyone.

Are there any on-campus events that you and your friends like going to?
There are tons actually. If it’s not someone’s Sproj project, then we go to parties at Manor Cafe or the Fisher Center to watch the conservatory every now and then. We also go to Preston Hall to watch movies.

How happy are you with the nightlife options at Bard? Is there anything you would change if you could?
If I could put it on a scale from 1-10, my happiness for the weekend would be an 8. Sometimes I wish there were a ton of things to do, but other times I’m glad it’s quiet and I can study. If I had to change something, I don’t think I would. There’s always something to do, it’s whether I want to do it or not.

How has identifying as LGBTQ influenced your nightlife experience? Is there much of an LGBTQ nightlife scene?
I don’t think it’s affected me much. Compared to Atlanta, people are more open about it here.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I’m a Posse Scholar, so I came here with some friends. The ones I met on campus was through Kline, [the main dining facility]. There was a time people from BEOP, which is the house for Access and Equities were in Kline, came up and introduced themselves. Since then, we’ve been friends.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Bard?
Everyone has their own clique that they stick to. People are sometimes afraid to jump out of their clique, but there are some very sociable people.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s not the best. I think people with different races and sexual orientations make friends outside their group when they’re in the same class. If they become friends, they wouldn’t mix friend groups. Most of my friends are both people of color and LGBTQ. [13% of students in the Class of 2022 are Hispanic, 8% are African American/Black, 12% are Asian, and 54% are White.]

How would you describe the student body?
It depends on the people and the group. The majority stay to themselves here, do their own thing, and stick to what they knew.

How do you like the size of Bard in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 1,900 undergraduate students.]
I enjoy the size and like that it’s small. I get more one-on-one attention with the professors, so it helps me with my academics at Bard, which I appreciate. [98% of classes have 29 students or less.]

How would you describe the Black community on campus? How strong is it?
Our community is like a family. We stay close together and check up on each other. It’s like a home away from home. We have cookouts and movie nights together.

How would you describe the LGBTQ community on campus? How strong is it?
It’s actually bigger than I thought it would be. I don’t know how friendly they are within themselves because I’m kind of by myself a little bit for my own reasoning. From what I’ve seen people get along, and there are clubs. No one appears to be judgmental, so I think it’s pretty cool.

Careers

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve gone to the Bard Career Development Office (CDO) for a resume review, and that was pretty helpful. They gave me tips on how to reword stuff.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
Given that I’m Studio Art, I’ve learned how to use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Premier.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how helpful is the office?
It depends on who you talk to. I’ve asked questions before and have gotten broad answers, but when I talked to someone higher up they broke it down for me. It feels like sometimes they work with me, and sometimes they don’t.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Bard before entering as a freshman?
I knew a lot about Bard before I came. I knew people that already go here and they filled me in on certain things. They told me that when I come to Bard, it’s like a different world and is whatever I make it. That’s honestly been true because there are so many things I can do and things I can get done.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Going inside the residence halls and seeing where they will live. When I came to visit, I saw everything except the inside of the dorms, so when I came to move in, I didn’t know what I needed or where to put anything.

Reasons to attend Bard:
1) The environment and atmosphere. If you’ve never lived away from home, you wouldn’t know any different. I think Bard gives people the chance to learn from new people and from different situations that I never would’ve gotten if I stayed home.
2) The books we read and the education is something I wouldn’t have gotten if I stayed home. Depending on what you take it’s kind of specific, but overall, I have the chance to study anything or change my major as much as I want.
3) The connections Bard has. I have opportunities to build connections on my own when people come to campus.

Reasons to not attend Bard:
1) Kline [dining all] is not the best. People want to eat well while they’re here, but you always have the option to cook.
2) If you don’t have a friend up here, you might not want to come. Sometimes people get trapped in their own world and separate themselves from their academics or friends, and they fall into depression. I’ve seen it happen, and I think it’s because Bard is in the middle of nowhere, so they lose connection with the outside world.

Notice: Bard College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Bard College.

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