On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Haverford College hosted the very first Ethics Lunch, located in the Pendle Hill Room at Haverford’s Dining Center.
The lunch brought together a small group of bi-co community members, including students, professors, and faculty. The focus for the inaugural gathering was “the ethics of service and volunteerism.” Haverford student María Padrón ’19 and Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, Eric Hartman, led the discussion, both beginning with a brief commentary on their personal expertise and experience.
The Ethics Lunch is an initiative created by Adam Rosenblatt, professor and Coordinator for the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Department at Haverford, that utilizes funds given to the college to “sponsor ethical engagement and leadership.” Rosenblatt explained that he was inspired to create the ethics lunch because he sees it as an opportunity for students and faculty to interact outside of the classroom environment. He believes that “there is not enough space for people to just talk to each other,” and through the ethics lunch, hopes to create a casual environment that will foster conversation.
Padrón spoke about her experiences during a ten-week summer internship at a residential care center in San Marcos, Nicaragua. She was quick to discuss some of the aspects of her internship that she felt were problematic, explaining that it took more than half of her time in Nicaragua before she felt like she knew the children and the community well enough to actually engage and be involved. She also talked about the more general difficulties of short-term volunteerism and how she sometimes felt unqualified to do anything useful.
Hartman followed Padrón and spoke more broadly about some of the issues that arise when students from elite and privileged colleges, such as Haverford, venture into the global community to do service or rights work. He explained the importance of helping students create opportunities in which they can engage with the world in the most effective and respectful ways possible.
After Padrón and Hartman spoke, the conversation was opened to the larger group, giving people the opportunity to ask questions and share their own experiences and reasons for attending the ethics lunch. The goal of the ethics lunch is for it to be a recurring event, so keep your eyes peeled for news of further gatherings.
Who’s next? That is the very question that the Haverford men’s soccer team was asking after winning their second consecutive Centennial Conference title last Sunday.
Their question was answered this past Monday when the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament field of 64 teams was announced. Haverford was named a host for the fegional round for the second year in a row. Haverford will play against the US Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday at 11AM, and, if they win, will play the winner of the other game, UMass-Boston vs. Kean.
While the men’s soccer team was given the answer to who they are set to play, you may be wondering about the teams they have drawn in their regional. Let’s take a look at the other three teams in the regional and who I predict will come out on top this weekend.
In the first game, the Fords will face the Merchant Marine Mariners, hailing from the Skyline Conference. The Mariners finished 13-3-3 and 10-1 in their conference this season. Senior forward Gavin Yingling, who scored 20 goals on the season, and junior Jon Tarbox, who compiled 13 assists, led the team this season. The Haverford defense will undergo the tough task of containing these two when the teams square off on Saturday morning at 11AM.
Prediction: Haverford 2, USMMA 0. The Haverford defense has proved to be tough enough to stifle excellent offensive teams all season. Expect to see the Haverford offense come through in some big moments on Saturday.
In the second game on Saturday, the UMass-Boston Beacons, of the Little East Conference, face off against the Kean Cougars, who received an at-large bid out of the New Jersey Athletic Conference. UMass-Boston is currently ranked #15 in the nation, two spots behind #13 Haverford, and went 17-1-2 this season. Their lone loss this season was early on to Western Connecticut State, and they have since been on a tear. Look for UMass-Boston to attack Kean (14-5-1) early and often, led by the combination of Sophomore Mohamed Kenawy (16 goals) and Freshman Ocane Williamson (17 goals).
Prediction: UMass-Boston 4, Kean 1. The explosive offense of UMass-Boston will ultimately be too much for Kean to contend with.
If these predictions of Saturday’s action are true, Sunday’s match-up will be an incredible contest between #13 Haverford and #15 UMass-Boston. While UMass-Boston has demonstrated their offensive firepower, they have not been tested by the likes of the Fords. UMass-Boston has not played any ranked teams this season, while the Fords have played three ranked teams throughout the year. This potential regional championship game looks to be a fun game to watch with two elite offenses going head to head.
Prediction: Haverford 5, UMass-Boston 4 OT. There is a reason that UMass-Boston is ranked #15 in the nation, but ultimately I believe that Haverford has too much depth for the Beacons to overcome. Expect a high scoring affair at Historic Walton Field, which will not be decided within the 90 minutes of regulation.
Whichever team ends the weekend with two wins will then face the winner of the Rowan regional, consisting of Rowan, Lehman, Tufts, and Springfield.
Bryn Mawr pulses with creation myths. Myths exist for a reason—they offer explanation when we don’t have the facts, or when we are interested in something more than just facts. There is the story of Rockefeller’s niece, on whose behalf John D. Rockefeller supposedly donated the money to build his namesake dorm. There is the story of Katherine Hepburn pioneering the tradition of skinny dipping in the cloisters, and the legends about the statue of Athena in Thomas Great Hall. After a quick walk around campus, any visitor can tell that this is a place steeped in history, where the traditions of the past continue to inform the present. The stories that students tell one another about our campus create a sense of continuity with past generations and codify our values.
Just beyond the edge of Bryn Mawr’s campus, however, lies a fascinating site with few, if any, popular stories attached to it: The Harriton graveyard in Morris Woods, also known as the graveyard behind English House. At night, this graveyard can be found while stumbling over haphazard fallen logs and dry ravines, the grave markers looming shadows. On a bright autumn morning when golden light filters through the trees, the graveyard is a pleasant place to enjoy some solitude and a Halloween aesthetic. Although many students know of its location, few know about the burial ground’s occupants and significance.
Around 1719, Richard Harrison, owner of the Harriton tobacco plantation (named for the Welsh town of Harriton), established a family burial ground. Harrison owned the 700 acres of farmland, and his property ended at what is now New Gulph Road. Harrison was the first person known to be buried in the graveyard, and after his death, the land was passed down to his son-in-law, Charles Thomson. Thomson was a little-known founding father, secretary of the Continental Congress and designer of the United States seal, as well as a beekeeper, orchardist, and abolitionist. There are at least ten unmarked grave sites from the Harrison/Thomson period, including those of family members and other members of the local community. According to Quaker tradition, a stone was placed next to the spot where a body was buried, marking not the deceased, but the next available spot. This practice reflected the Quaker belief in equality and humility.
The most distinctive grave markers are those located at the back of the plot. They are Gothic-style tablets with carvings that resemble angel’s wings. These tablets do not belong to anyone in the Harrison or Thomson families; the Lower Merion Historical Society describes them as “Strangers to the family” because they mark the graves of a family whose surname is Cochran. Little is known about the Cochran family except that they must have had some claim to the land which allowed them to be buried there. Since the graves do have writing on them, the Cochrans were probably not Quakers.
In the 19th century, a craze arose for grand public cemeteries, and Thomson and his wife Hannah were dug up and brought to the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, a resting place that seemed to better befit such distinguished citizens. Of course, considering the fact that the Harriton graves were unmarked, and the transfer happened decades after the original burials, it is possible that the bodies resting under the obelisk in Laurel Hill either are not the Thomsons, or include remains of multiple individuals. Macabre as this sounds, it reveals the obsession with death rituals that was common in the Victorian era, often referred to as a “cult of mourning”. However, not all the deceased were afforded such convoluted rites. As a tobacco plantation, even a small-scale northern one, Harriton was also the home of enslaved people.
The grave markers’ lack of identification makes it difficult to know for sure how many slaves are buried here, but local historians believe that they would have been former house slaves, freed by Charles Thomson. It is disturbing that such a picturesque spot could be the resting place of slaves. Many people do not know that the Quakers didn’t officially disavow slavery until 1758, and due to gradual emancipation laws, some people remained enslaved in Pennsylvania until the early nineteenth century. Although the Harriton slaves had no connection to Bryn Mawr College, their graves hint at the violent reality of this area’s history, a reality that is often hidden behind the ideals of Quakerism and tolerance. The proximity of the graves to campus emphasizes the way that a legacy of racism has haunted Bryn Mawr throughout the college’s history.
As Charles and Hannah had no children, the property was inherited by the descendants of Hannah’s brother Thomas Harrison. The 700 acres originally owned by the family were divided up and parceled out, both as inheritances and to be sold to developers. Through marriage, the property that included the graveyard came into the hands of the local Morris family, and then passed to the Vaux family. In the early twentieth century, George Vaux IX built a house for his family on his inherited land just on the border of the original property. This house remained in the family until 1958, when it was sold to Bryn Mawr College to be turned into English House. What is today Russian House was once the neighboring garage and apartment. The forested area called Morris Woods was also sold to Bryn Mawr College at this same time.
Trina Vaux, George Vaux IX’s granddaughter, spent her childhood in what is today English House. She is now the current owner of the property that includes the graveyard. She recalls that “students have always found their way to the cemetery.” In fact, it was a popular destination and “a favorite site of trysts” back when her mother was a Bryn Mawr student in the 1930s. In the 1980s and 90s, Bryn Mawr students formed a coven of witches that met in the graveyard at the spring and fall equinox to read poetry. In later years the witches became an overtly feminist and political group, which did not go over well with some of the more traditional neighbors.
Today, the graveyard offers a testament to the depth of history in this area, as well as a place for meditation and appreciating nature. After learning about the individuals who are buried there, and speaking with one of their descendants, I’ve found it hard to visit without considering their stories. Knowing the history provides a more complete context for Bryn Mawr, but also a more complicated one. Those who are interested in local history might like to visit the historic Harriton House, a fifteen-minute walk from campus.
In case you haven’t heard, it’s election season. For most students on campus, this will be the first opportunity to cast a ballot for the next president of the United States of America. But will they do it?
Historically, the Tri-College has had a less-than-stellar voting record. In the last presidential election, only 35% of Swarthmore students voted. According to Haverford College President Kim Benston, low student turnout is the result of a number of factors, including a general lack of understanding as to how important each student’s vote will be.
“As you get older, … and you start to realize your relationship to the taxation system, your relationship to the public infrastructure … you get a keener sense of how the political world affects that,” Benston told The Bi-College News.
At the same time, there are physical obstacles outside of students’ control.
“Students… have had their voting rights suppressed, to some extent,” Benston added. “Now, there’s as many of you as in my neighborhood, but I have a polling place that I can walk to and you don’t, so what’s that about? To me, that’s a political problem … It has not been made as easy for students, actually, as it could be.”
This year, however, there’s no excuse. Special Assistant to the President Franklyn Cantor has been organizing nonstop to ensure students can make it to the polls.
“The last two [voting] cycles have relied pretty heavily on students to get folks to the polls,” said Cantor. But this year, faculty and staff will be driving to ensure a constant flow of transportation, making the trip as convenient as possible.
“It’s a five-minute ride to the polls,” Cantor stressed. “We’re going to make sure folks have a chance to get there … I hope that we’ll have improved turn out, I really do.”
He’s not the only one interested in seeing an increased student turnout.
“I will be very interested to see what happens in this election,” said Benston. “This is honestly the most consequential election I’ve ever lived through. So if Haverford students don’t vote, I’ll be very, very saddened by that … It’s your world that’s going to be affected.”
It’s not just administrators who are working to get the vote out. Students have been tabling in Haverford’s Dining Center for weeks to register voters, and there have been a number of efforts to increase awareness throughout the election season.
Now that the campaigns are finally coming to a close, the only thing left to do is cast your ballot!
On Wednesday, October 26th, Edwidge Danticat presented a reading as part of the Bryn Mawr Creative Writing Program Reading Series. For more than thirty years, the reading series has brought various accomplished writers to Bryn Mawr. Danticat’s visit continued this tradition.
Danticat’s readings were framed around the current disaster in Haiti. Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on Oct. 4th, and the nation continues to struggle with the effects. Danticat pointed out that destruction of livestock and crops will make living in the already impoverished country even more difficult.
The author also spoke on the Haitian cholera outbreak, which was carelessly caused by doctors and other peace workers while providing humanitarian aid during the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and then further exacerbated by Hurricane Matthew. She connected the outbreak to slavery, the United State’s occupation of the Dominican Republic and America’s role in the creation of suffering worldwide.
The death and sadness created by the two natural disasters, her personal experience and American occupation of numerous South American nations led Danticat to select readings from her works, Claire By the Sealight, Farming of Bones, Create Dangerously and a currently unpublished memoir, The Art of Death. In these works, she explores the idea of bearing witness to events both sad and beautiful and learning how to honor and remember them.
Danticat explained the Haitian tradition of honoring someone a year and a day after their death. Some believe that when an individual dies, “the souls of the newly dead slip into rivers and streams and remain there, under the water, for a year and a day. Then, lured by ritual prayer and song, the souls emerge from the water and the spirits are reborn.
She discussed the year and a day tradition in reference to her mother and those who died in Haiti as a result of the hurricane and earthquake, as well as American occupation of the Dominican Republic and other South American nations. “It is unbelievable how horrors repeat themselves,” Ms. Danticat said, outraged by the amount of suffering that takes place in the world.
Finishing her readings, Ms. Danticat recognized the difficulty of thinking about such heavy topics and urged the audience to do its best to provide humanitarian aid to those currently suffering in Haiti.
The question of whether life exists on other planets is one of the most fundamental questions humans ask. It is also one of the most difficult to answer.
This week, Swarthmore College alumnus and Astrophysicist at the University of California Santa Cruz Andrew Skemer came to Haverford’s campus for a talk and informal lunch, both revolving around his research on exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars other than our sun. The first was found in 1995; as of now, more than 3000 have been detected.
“When I started grad school, there was like one exoplanet paper a week, and now there are like 10 a day,” said Skemer. “It’s a really exciting 10 to 20 years coming up in exoplanet imaging.”
Skemer’s work relies on something called adaptive optics, which take earth’s atmosphere into account to improve images coming from telescopes. In addition to teaching us about our own solar system, studying exoplanets lets us answer questions about the wider universe, including how common these orbiting bodies are.
“Planets around stars are ubiquitous. They’re everywhere,” said Skemer. This includes our nearest neighbors – earlier this year, neighboring star Proxima Centauri was found to have a planet orbiting it in its so-called ‘habitable zone.’ Exoplanet imaging and other detection methods promise to give us more information.
“In the next 20 years, we’ll have a spectrum of [Proxima b] and we’ll know if there’s oxygen and methane on it,” said Skemer, noting two atmospheric gases whose presence may be one indicator of life.
Arjun Khandelwal (HC ’17), a physics and astronomy double major who does exoplanet research of his own, highlighted the importance of Skemer’s work and studying exoplanets in general.
“[Exoplanets] help us answer one of the grandest questions in the world: whether we are alone in the great enveloping cosmic dark,” said Khandelwal. “Most exoplanet work focuses on finding them in indirect ways because imaging them is really hard, but adaptive optics … is a wonderful technique to actually get pictures of alien worlds. It’s amazing that we have the ability to do that!”
Alien life or no, exoplanets promise to be important in the future of astronomy. Skemer pointed out that, when it comes to some areas of astronomy, like stars, we have answered most of the basic questions. We can observe a star and determine things like its mass, age and composition.
“With exoplanets, I promise you, we’ve answered almost none of the questions.” And that, Skemer says, is exactly what makes this such an exciting field.
For now, we can’t say much about the possibility of life on even the planets around the closest stars, but stay tuned.
“The next two or three decades will be the first time in human history that we’ll be able to detect life on other planets, if there is any,” said Khandelwal. “I was always fascinated by that question growing up, and it’s absolutely incredible to me that it might be answered in just the next couple of decades.”
The history of field hockey in the United States has its roots at Bryn Mawr. Constance Applebee, the namesake of Applebee Field, and Bryn Mawr’s athletic director in the early twentieth century, is credited with introducing the sport to the United States. Over a century later, the Bryn Mawr field hockey team is emerging from a tumultuous period. After their previous coach’s contract with Bryn Mawr was terminated last February, assistant coaches were forced to pick up the slack in recruiting high school students for this year. Although there are four first year students currently on the team, the entire roster has shrunk down to just sixteen athletes. According to captain Haley Newman ‘17, it often takes several years for a program to be rebuilt after the loss of a coach. Nonetheless, Newman is confident that the team is “on the up-and-up,” largely due to the June hiring of coach Victor Brady (Swarthmore ‘13). Newman, along with her co-captain Holly Senebandith ‘17, expressed excitement over the team’s future with Brady. Not only is Brady “ambitious, determined, [with] a ton of experience in the field hockey world,” but he already has lined up “phenomenal recruits,” according to Newman. Both Newman and Senebandith say that Brady’s coaching has led to a markedly more positive and supportive atmosphere on the team.
Although the team has faced difficulties this season, Newman and Senebandith spoke enthusiastically about their September 17 2-3 game against Wells College, which went into double overtime. “Everyone left everything on the field,” says Newman, “the skill was amazing to see and be a part of.” Senebandith agreed, saying that the game was “one of those experiences where you’re so proud to play for Bryn Mawr.” Despite the setbacks of the small roster and string of losses–although, as a part of the elite Centennial Conference, Bryn Mawr’s field hockey team is competing among some of the best small college teams in the country–the team has pulled together to form a close-knit community. In fact, the small size of the team has helped to strengthen these bonds, and push each athlete to excel. Senebandith says that “the personality of our team is one of the things that’s kept me here at Bryn Mawr.”
Brady’s coaching seems to be paying off strategically. This season, the team has scored six times more shots total and eleven times more shots on goal than in any other season. They have also been awarded fourteen times as many offensive corners, which allows them to shoot at the defensive team’s goal with as many players as they want. Similarly, the team has had the fewest defensive penalty corners ever, meaning that opposing teams have had a hard time attacking Bryn Mawr’s shooting circle. Specifically, the defensive penalties against Bryn Mawr’s team have decreased by over 40% per game. This is especially remarkable given the small roster. The team’s goals against average (GAA) has dropped by 3.38, meaning that on average, 3.38 fewer goals are scored against Bryn Mawr per game.
With the big win in their last game of the season to send off the seniors in the program, the focus for the program is now on recruiting new Owls to come to Bryn Mawr to play field hockey and join the program.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine held a rally at a chilly Dunning-Cohen Champions Field, at Penn Park on Saturday, Oct. 22. Numerous Haverford College students took advantage of the opportunity to experience the campaign in person.
Sophie Frank ’19 and Magdalena Yeakey ’19 said they had initially planned to attend an earlier event for Hillary Clinton at the Haverford Community Recreation Center, but were unable to attend due to classes. Rebecca Hickey ’19 added, “I just wanted to see her.”
Frank’s attendance at the rally was not her first interaction with 2016 presidential campaign.
“Earlier this year, I protested at a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico with some other Haverford students,” said Frank. “But, I really wanted the experience of participating not in opposition to something.”
Despite the huge numbers of people, most Haverford students said they did not wait in line for more than hour. The Clinton campaign estimate that around 7,750 people attended the rally.
Ali Corcoran ’19, who is involved on campus with the group No-Labels registering Haverford students to vote, explained that she was incredibly excited to be voting and participating in the process. She offered that, “I’ve loved watching the debate from the sidelines, but I really wanted to experience a campaign event.”
Yeakey noted before the debate that she was hoping to hear something more upbeat than much of the current political rhetoric.
“I look forward to hearing a different tone from the debate,” she said. “I’m looking for positions of positivity.”
Before the arrival of Clinton and Kaine to the stage, State Representative Dwight Evans, a candidate for Pennsylvania’s Second Congressional District, Josh Shapiro, a candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, and Senate candidate Katie McGinty spoke to the crowd.
Although Clinton’s consistent and significant lead in Pennsylvania polls has seemingly pushed any hope of Donald Trump victory in the state out of sight, the race between incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty is significantly tighter. All of the night’s speakers, including Clinton and Kaine, worked to connect Toomey with his party’s nominee’s controversial statements. Democrats view a victory in the Pennsylvania race as key to retaking the Senate from Republicans in November.
McGinty explained the importance of removing Senator Toomey from office in order to enact the agenda of Hillary Clinton, telling the crowd, “Our mission is urgent”. Throughout her remarks, McGinty relentlessly attacked her opponent and connected him with Trump. She told an energetic crowd, “What does Pat Toomey need to hear? You failed!” She continued to point out that Toomey’s failure to fully back away from Donald Trump mean that he could no longer be trusted to represent Pennsylvanians. McGinty maintained that, “Pat Toomey has failed the test of leadership. He has failed the test of political courage.”
After a brief break, shortly before 9 p.m., Kaine and Clinton took the stage to raucous applause. Kaine introduced his running mate and explained the importance of Pennsylvania voters participating in the election offering. “If we win Pennsylvania,” he said, “this race will be over. We need your help. If we win here, you can guarantee it.”
As well as taking the opportunity to remind Pennsylvanian voters of the importance of voting and highlighting the qualifications and policies of Clinton and McGinity, Kaine repeatedly attacked Trump, asking the crowd, “Has Donald Trump even read the United States Constitution?” He added, “You all would know a bit about that here in Philadelphia.”
Kaine also emphasized many of Trump’s controversial statements. Discussing Trump’s comments about Clinton not having “the look” of a president, Kaine explained of his running mate, “I think she looks damn presidential.” He continued that, “Hillary has heard from people her whole life that this might not be the time, and she has never let that stop her.”
During Clinton’s portion she continued to urge Pennsylvanians “to spend the last seventeen days doing everything to send Katie to the Senate.” She also attacked Toomey, questioning whether he would be able to stand up to special interests given that he seems unable to stand up against Donald Trump’s more controversial remarks.
Clinton continually attacked her opponent on his business career, joking to the crowd about Trump’s losses from his casinos, “I don’t know how smart it is, losing a billion dollars on a casino. I thought the house always won.” She also questioned whether Trump’s claims that he may not accept the result of election disqualified him from being president. She offered that, “We’ve always had a peaceful transfer of power in the United States. We’ve always had democracy over dictatorship, rule of law over a strongman. The United States is bigger than Donald Trump.”
She even joked to supporters who might know people considering voting for Donald Trump, “You know, it’s not too late to stage an intervention. Friends don’t let friends vote for Donald Trump”
Listing a variety of issues from immigration and criminal justice reform to college affordability, Clinton stressed the significance of the participating in this election. She added, “This is a crossroad election. There could not be two different agendas and visions than between me and Donald Trump.”
Ending her speech, she told the crowd, “You’d better vote. Think about the future we want, think about the future we can create and remember love trumps hate.”
Haverford students were overwhelming enthusiastic about the evening. As she left the event, Corcoran said simply, “It was just amazing.”
Coming into college, I had never flown on an airplane in my entire life. Since entering college, I have flown to and from Florida twice for the Haverford baseball team’s annual Spring training trip. With minimum experience traveling alone, I was a little nervous to say the least when it came time to step through security and leave my parents at the airport to finally begin my journey to Belgium. However, when I landed, all my anxiety went away. There was a representative from KUL (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) waiting to pick me up at the airport, and about two hours later, I reunited with three of my closest when their flight landed.
The decision to study abroad with three of my closest friends has been one of the best decisions of my life. Not only would it be tough to not have people to hang out with, to take classes with, or go Euro tripping with, but it would be very difficult to adjust to a new country’s culture by myself. Most Belgian students go home on the weekends so, unlike America, where Friday and Saturday are the best nights to go out, it is the week nights that are the best nights to go out in Belgium. Considering that Leuven has a population of about 100,000, around half of which is university students, the weekends can be very quiet. This has by far been the weirdest custom to adjust to, especially since many young students in Leuven like to stay out until four or five in the morning. I have three 9 AM classes and am reluctant to stay out that late on week nights (even though I have done it once). I am glad my friends are here so we can have a good time whenever we want, without having to stay out until five on a Wednesday morning.
Last Wednesday, Dr. Adrienne Shaw, an assistant professor at Temple University, gave a lecture in Chase Hall on Haverford campus entitled “Representation Matters. Reframing Arguments for Diversity in Digital Games.” After a short introduction from representatives of the college’s Distinguished Visitor and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program – a sponsor of the lecture – Dr. Shaw began her presentation.
Shaw’s talk was heavily based around research done for her book, Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture, published in 2015. This research consisted of interviews with individuals within the gaming community, during which Shaw asked the participants about representation in video games. From this method of information gathering, Shaw said she became aware that gamers considered representation “nice when it happens.”
“Representation,” in this context, refers to the inclusion of characters or situations that replicate the experiences of groups that are typically less visible in media: for example, women and girls, persons of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Aware of this trend, Dr. Shaw framed her goal in relation to addressing the problem-fraught issue of representation in gaming: more and better representation can be achieved by looking at the areas where there is no need for it. To emphasize this idea, Dr. Shaw presented evidence collected by Rosalind Wiseman and Ashly Burch, presented at the Game Developers Conference in 2015. In a study of children, male and female, young and adolescent, they found that kids don’t have strong preferences for the gender of the character they select in-game.
So why push the gaming industry for better representation? As Adrienne Shaw explains it, this movement is fourth-wave feminism. Also known as cyberfeminism and occasionally post-feminism, fourth-wave feminism has emerged in response to post-World War Two shifts from female to male computer operators. As men returned from war and took over jobs in the computing field, they were set on the path to dominance in the gaming industry, which emerged in the 1970s. Studies of those employed in said industry show that games are made by overwhelming majorities of white heterosexual males. Fourth-wave feminism presents itself in “Women in Games” efforts, popular especially in the early 2010s.
Dr. Shaw accepts that “change takes time,” and compared the current “wave” of feminism to a slow but powerful eroding force which will continue to challenge game-makers to push themselves toward greater representation of minorities in games. Her current work involves a longitudinal study of LGBTQ+ inclusion in games, spanning the last three decades. After a handful of concluding questions from the audience, Dr. Shaw wrapped up her presentation with a warning: the gaming industry will need a structural renovation before it embraces the diversity of gamers.
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