BackgroundInterview Date:July 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in central Connecticut with a graduating class of about 400 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Double major in Women’s & Gender Studies and Political Science
Extracurricular Activities: I am in a sorority and I’m a tour guide.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
Lots of reading and essays. It’s very reading and writing intensive.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I prefer my Women’s & Gender Studies Major because I think it does a really good job of giving you a well-rounded understanding of the field. I also find it a little more accessible and it’s mostly female professors, while the Political Science department doesn’t have many female professors. Also, the Political Science major has more male students than female, so it’s a little more difficult to get your voice heard. I feel more comfortable in the Women’s & Gender Studies classes
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s collaborative for sure. The majority of my classes in both departments rely on round table style discussion, which I prefer.
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think the professors do a very good job in trying to stay neutral, but the Dickinson student body is much more liberal minded. Especially in classes where you’re taught controversial issues, you’re going to find a more hostile reaction to extremely conservative viewpoints. Debates have gotten heated in the classroom, but professors do keep themselves neutral and make sure to keep things respectful and from a pedagogical standpoint. Anyone with extremely conservative views probably wouldn’t be 100% comfortable with sharing them in the classroom.
What have been your favorite classes in your majors?
Political Science: Multiculturalism.
Women’s & Gender Studies: I’ve liked all of my Women’s & Gender Studies classes, but if I had to rate one it’d be Clear Politics.
What have been your least favorite classes in your majors?
Political Science: International Relations
Women’s & Gender Studies: European Women’s History, just because it’s more of a history class.
Why did you pick your majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I am a huge feminist and am really interested in politics and law and legislation. I really want to do civil rights law, specifically for women’s issues. It’s a nice combination of things because I get a pretty broad look at the political sphere and when I go to law school I can apply that.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Adams Hall in a double. I would say it’s one of the nicer freshman buildings.
Sophomore: McKenney suites with four other roommates. I was in a double and there was another double and a single. That’s not usual McKenney, usually it’s a suite of eight in four double rooms, I got that room because lived with a community advisor.
Junior: I’m living in my sorority house with two direct roommates. The house holds 12 people.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Generally speaking, pretty safe. Off campus can be a little hairy in certain parts of town, the main areas are generally pretty safe. As women in the town me and my friends have gotten catcalled many times ranging from relatively innocuous comments to more crude and mean, which I obviously don’t enjoy. I have been told by my friends who are people of color that they’ve had racial incidents from people in the town. The campus is pretty well lit and there’s always a DPS officer walking around.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Redd’s Smokehouse BBQ
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
When the weather’s nice, Opossum Lake. It’s a little lake and has a park area where you can sit out and chill. Also, the main road in the downtown area has a lot of shops and cafes you can walk to. Pomfret Street has a ton of little art shops. It’s a bit hard if you don’t have a car to get farther away from campus.
Pros and Cons of being in Carlisle, PA?
Pros: (1) There are lots of nature around.
(2) It’s not totally secluded, but there’s stuff to do.
(3) It’s two hours away from D.C., which I really like, and Annapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. It’s really central to a few bigger cities. I’ve gone to D.C. a handful of times.
Cons: (1) It’s in a part of Pennsylvania that people refer to as “Pennsyltucky.” So, there are sometimes [people catcalling and stuff] that I’m not used to. Also, depending on your political views, Pennsylvania can be a little bit more conservative.
(2) There are some parts that are kind of derelict, like abandoned factories and stuff like that.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go to a lot of house parties. What usually happens is two organizations – a male organization and a female organization or a co-ed organization and something else – will agree to have a party together at a house. It could be a frat and a sports team, a fraternity and a sorority, or a sorority and a sports team, so it’s not a frat party per se, it’s just a house party.
What nights of the week do you regularly go out?
Friday and Saturday nights we almost always go out. Occasionally during the week, but only ever Wednesdays or Thursdays. Usually parties are held at the off campus houses that seniors have, but that’s changing this coming year, so I’m not sure where parties are going to be held. One thing that’s consistent is there are always parties at the townhouses on campus.
What have been some of your favorite times at Dickinson?
For me, my sorority has made my experience at school. Every event I’ve done with them has been really nice. I tell people that Greek life doesn’t necessarily make or break your experience, but it definitely made mine.
Has being a person who identifies as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience?
Yes, it’s interesting because, in my class, there [are not a lot of LGBTQ+ people.] I have no way of knowing if someone else is queer, so it’s been hard for me to find other girls looking for girls. It is very much a heterosexual dynamic, but that’s just kind of life.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think it’s really fun. I don’t drink, so I can’t tolerate too much of a party scene, but I still have a really good time. The only thing is that there are bursts of time where Dickinson Public Safety will really crack down on parties, which is annoying because it’s a college and it’s not a dry campus. Generally speaking, I’m pretty happy with it.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My two best friends I met through my sorority. My one other best friend I met through a mutual friend. When I joined my sorority is when I really met my closest friends, which is why I say it really made my sorority.
How would you describe the social scene?
Greek life, club sports, and varsity sports are the big partiers. We’re the ones who are going to be hosting and attending the larger parties. The music and theater crew also has parties, but they are more so with themselves and they put on shows and stuff. [What’s unique is] all of those groups overlap in regular day to day stuff, so I do theater and music and some of my friends do art and music. I know a bunch of the artists who will sometimes come to our parties or are also on a club sports team.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Dickinson by the time they graduate?
It depends. From what I’ve heard our retention rate is not the best. [Dickinson’s retention rate in 2016 was 90%.] [In my opinion,] it’s higher in Greek life than the overall college. I think it depends on what you’re looking for. I picked Dickinson mainly because of the education, and I think if you picked Dickinson solely for an extracurricular you might not be as happy on where you ended up. If you don’t make the most of Carlisle and actively try to engage with the community, you probably won’t enjoy your time there because the college is relatively small.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating has the office been to your needs?
I do get financial aid. I get about half my tuition paid, so I’m pretty thrilled with it. I would not say that I am not well off, but I think they’ve accommodated me really well. If I’m getting what I’m getting at my family’s tax bracket, I’m confident that people who are more needing than I am are probably getting what they need. [In the 2017-2018 academic year, 72% of students received merit or need-based aid.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Dickinson before entering as a freshman?
Probably that the food isn’t that great. That’s definitely something that may have given me pause because the cafeteria is not a good time. I also wish I knew that they were planning on getting rid of off campus housing during the time I was going to be there.
What’s something that a prospective LGBT student may want to know?
Even though Dickinson doesn’t have a lot of LGBT people, it’s very accepting of LGBT people and there are a lot of resources. There’s a whole center that’s dedicated for LGBT students. There are also events to meet other people who are LGBT, so you know that you are part of a community.
What is something that a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I give tours, and I think everyone sees everything on the tour. Anyone who gets a tour gets a meal voucher so they can eat in the cafeteria if they’d like to, so maybe do that. I would say that it’s really important to explore the town. I think if you go to Dickinson and don’t involve yourself in the community you’re not going to have a good time.
Reasons to attend Dickinson College:
1) Dickinson’s academics are really impressive and it’s an up and coming liberal arts school. I’ve never had a class with more than 20 people, and that’s an outlier. You can get a lot of one on one time with professors.
2) The community. I have never walked between two buildings and not seen someone I know. It’s nice to see friendly faces.
3) It’s easy to get involved in the Carlisle community. I consider Carlisle as one of my homes, which is really nice. The town makes it special.
4) The proximity to other cities and the way Dickinson gets you involved in exploring other places. I’ve had three classes that have taken field trips to a nearby city and I thought that was really fun.
Reasons to not attend Dickinson College:
1) If you don’t want all on campus housing, then don’t go.
2) In my opinion, the administration isn’t very receptive to student opinions right now because they have a plan for the college and they’re more focused on future students.
3) The size is a con if you’re not looking for that. If you don’t want people to know who you are and know what you’re about, don’t come. [There are about 2,300 students.]