Political/Social atmosphere at Bryn Mawr

So I really love Bryn Mawr in terms of academics, location, size, traditions, etc but I hear it’s a very liberal school. I’d describe myself as a moderate or a right leaning libertarian, but I’m not radical. I’m fine with gay marriage and, even though I’m pro-life and not a feminist, I think I’d enjoy debating those topics with the other students. What I’m scared about is opinion policing. I would be so frustrated if I were censored by the administration or something like that. I can deal with heat from other students because they have no real authority over me but, if staff gets involved, I’d get pretty upset. Basically I don’t want something like what happened at Hood College to happen at BMC. So basically what is the conservative club/scene there like? Is everyone a radical feminist or just a loud minority? I’m also planning on majoring in political science and I saw that part of the major requires courses in feminism which I’m hoping is just the history of 1st and 2nd wave feminism but if anyone actually knows, please let me know. If I’m majoring in PS, will I be silenced and/or graded badly if I include conservative positions in arguments? Also, do they ever have conservative speakers like Ben Shapiro or Milo Yiannopoulos, if not at BMC, at neighboring colleges? Also, a little question about the social life, I’m bi but more interested in dating guys so what are the guys at the neighboring schools like? I know these are general questions but any answer would be appreciated.

Check out the link.

If you’re going to Bryn Mawr, it sadly seems that you will have to suppress your political beliefs.

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Yikes, yeah thank you, very progressive. Is the administration super liberal as well? I can manage the students having differing opinions because I am not afraid to speak up and argue my positions, I just really don’t want to be censored by staff.

@brookejeannette , my experience with Quaker schools is that all opinions are welcome and supported by the administration and that the discourse must be respectful. Many students on both sides find that the “rules” around respectful discourse can feel oppressive until you’ve fully internalized them. I know current and past students at BMC who enjoyed the intellectual/thought freedom and inclusion there who came from both ends of the political spectrum. You should visit if you can and see if it feels like a good fit for you. You sound like an open-minded and engaged person, so it’s worth a deeper dive.

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Bryn Mawr is not a Quaker school.

“even though I’m pro-life and not a feminist, I think I’d enjoy debating those topics with the other students.”

I don’t think you would. IMHO, those “debates” might not be friendly or productive and they might not end when you wanted them to. I think you’d get a lot of direct hostility, not just “heat.” I don’t think you’d be censored by staff or faculty, but I would be concerned about you having a frustrating and isolating experience. If any current BMC students are observing something different, please speak up.

I went to BMC for two years and am on the board of my local alumnae club. I do not agree that “both ends of the political spectrum” enjoyed inclusion when I was there. If there were conservatives or non-feminists in my class, they were nearly silent.


Actually Bryn Mawr IS a quaker school. It was founded by quakers and is still on the list of Quaker higher education schools.It is also part of the Quaker Consortium (haverford, bryn mawr, swarthmore, upenn). But this does not mean it is accepting of all beliefs (and by this i mean conservative views).

I was recently accepted and planned on enrolling at Bryn Mawr but chose another school due to financial reasons. I also have a close family member who works in the administration. I AM extremely liberal so Bryn Mawr’s political views were not an issue but rather an attraction to me. This being said, this is not the school for you if you are conservative or libertarian. I read an article not long ago about a Bryn Mawr student who asked the student body if anyone could give her a ride to a Trump rally. She received so much backlash she transferred to another college.
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20161225_Bryn_Mawr_student_hounded_after_asking_to_share_ride_to_Trump_event.html That is the link. here is also a link referencing a student protest:

Bryn Mawr seems to pride itself on its liberal view points and political activism is BIG on campus. I know many current students who would pretty much say most everyone is a feminist there. I know you say you don’t mind sticking up for your beliefs if challenged but it is likely that you would receive backlash and direct hostility for your beliefs and many would be unwilling to hear you out or debate you. There is very little representation for conservative viewpoints here and if Milo Yiannopoulos or Ben Shapiro ever stepped foot on campus there would be protests campus-wide (remember what happened when Milo tried to give a speach at UC Berkely? it would be like that). My family member in the administration can attest to this as well as the fact that the administration is as well fairly progressive and liberal.

This is not to say there are not conservatives on campus: http://www.brynmawr.edu/activities/studentorganizations.shtml#service
On this page you will find that there is a conservative group on campus (no contact info though-which is strange because every other club has contact info) but I would guess that they do not have a large presence on campus. You seem like you would thrive where there is a larger conservative presence on campus for you to join.

I hope this response is helpful so that you don’t go through what the girl I mentioned before went through. I know how frustrating it is when someone refuses to hear you out on political issues. I wouldn’t consider this school if you want to go somewhere where conservative viewpoints are accepted and can be debated in a civil manner. I think you would thrive at a school with similar attributes but a different political scene. There is a school out there for everyone! As much as I love Bryn Mawr, if I were conservative, I would not attend Bryn Mawr I would find somewhere with a better fit.

You also asked about the dating scene so I would like to add that Bryn Mawr is part of several consortiums. It has partnerships with Swarthmore, Haverford, and UPenn. Students from these schools can take classes at Bryn Mawr and vice versa. This means that there will be men in some of you classes at Bryn Mawr, especially if their college does not offer that class. For example, the other colleges do no offer geology so if a student wants to major in geology they must take the classes at Bryn Mawr. Most of these men come from Haverford because it is only a half mile to mile down the road. Also, Bryn Mawr and Haverford take it a step further. Bryn Mawr and Haverford students can attend any campus event at the other school, and use the other school’s dining halls or libraries simply by using their student id card. This makes the dating scene easier because you can hangout on Haverford’s campus and take classes their to meet people (Haverford is coed). Some current students I know say that it feels like Haverford is just another extension of their campus and it is very easy to travel between the two (there are frequent shuttles). This definitely adds another dynamic to the dating and social scene.

I don’t think Bryn Mawr is exceptional in any way in terms of LAC intolerance of non-progressive politics. It seemed average in terms of intolerance when we visited several schools. Just my take.

This is really helpful, thank you a lot. Bryn Mawr was the first college I ever fell in love with and at the time I was more liberal than I am now so I never thought about how my political beliefs might affect me in the future. What happened to that girl was really sad and does make me nervous. Do you know any schools similar to Bryn Mawr that are more moderate? Like any of the other sister colleges?

Would you consider a Catholic school? Thinking maybe St. Mary’s (at Note Dame)…

I am Catholic so I’m not against it but I’ve gone to a catholic school my entire life so I’m interested in branching out a bit more. I’ll check St. Mary’s out though anyway

I’m a current student and political science major at Bryn Mawr, so maybe I can help! I’m afraid your concerns are pretty valid but if you fell in love with the place, I can say being a libertarian here is not impossible! I essentially had to come out as conservative-ish to my super liberal friends and I was welcomed with open arms, but of course, this is a case by case situation. I also was naturally part of what I think is the only naturally republican social group on campus that was not created for political reasons and it was a breath of fresh air to find these people. As far as profs go, its a hit or a miss. My first semester poli sci prof was super liberal and didn’t care who knew it, but my second semester prof, who is higher up in the department and has more experience, was relatively balanced and fair to all points of view, which surprised me. She offered extra credit for attending demonstrations and rallies for any cause, liberal or otherwise, which shocked students but she emphasized that there are more conservatives around than you think and they deserve extra credit too. I won’t lie, you’ll roll you eyes a lot, but you can certainly go to school here and find success as well as a rigorous education.
In terms of the administration, I was really proud of the president of the school the day after the election. A number of students wanted to declare a day off to “process the tragic results” but President Cassidy sent out an email to all students basically saying get your sorry a**es to class, quit whining, and learn something, which made me smile a little extra. Debate with students, in all likelihood will be met with some hostility, but the people really worth talking to and who really belong at such a respected school academically will respond in a reasonable manner. Overall, though, the majority of the administration is professional and smart enough not to crusade for the left, the students will be the biggest problem. For me though, seeing people make fools of themselves just made me laugh, it didn’t scare me out of the department. It comes down to how much you actually believe in your own politics, you’ll be okay.

When it comes to the social scene, Haverford is easy, then Swat and Villanova are close by, so there are boys around. I had a friend accidentally sign up for a Haverford class, that’s how easy it is to be on a coed campus

Hope that helps!

Unless you decide to attend a college/university that has a conservative bent, you will find that the vast majority of institutions of higher education are populated with liberal faculty and liberal students. Bryn Mawr isn’t all that different. As for academics, faculty should treat you professionally and base assessments on academic performance. BMC is small enough that you can spend time conversing with faculty members, especially with your Dean and engage in debate/conversation/questioning. That access to faculty is one if the pluses of being at a small LAC.

My D is a BMC grad and was also the equivalent of an RA–she was always willing to offer the kids on her floor assistance on finding their people/groups on campus.

You can make your college experience what you want it to be–there are ways to do this. My D’s roommate was a political science major. She spent a semester in DC as an intern and also spent a semester in Argentina. While that is an anecdotal example–it does suggest political science students have options/opportunities for internships and outside of campus studies.

Did you visit BMC? What attracted you to the school in the first place? If you are admitted or already have been, you need to go to admitted students days and see if you can find the environment that you are seeking. Talk to faculty and students and then decide for yourself.

Don’t almost all colleges offer the internships in Washington and study abroad now? Some high schools even do. I really don’t count that as a positive, but as an expected offering, like having a cafeteria.

To paraphrase others: “I’m not a feminist but I really do like to keep the money that I earn; I really appreciate being able to vote; it’s really convenient that my boyfriend or partner can’t legally hit me; it’s swell that I get to choose to wear pants or shorts; I really like to have a driver’s license; gee, isn’t it great to be able to show my hair in public; I find it useful to be able to get a job and go to college and learn to read and publish my writing and run for office and exercise outside and go places without being escorted by a male blood relative and show my ankles and manage my own health decisions and get divorced and choose whom to marry . . . .etc”


There is no way to characterize a population’s political views. Yes, Bryn Mawr is quite liberal, but you will find many others who think like you do. You’ll also find people whose beliefs do not match yours - perhaps you and them will all learn something from each other.

Bryn mawr IS NOT a Quaker school, and they make that very clear when you are on campus. They have no religious affiliation.

I don’t think any of the seven sisters schools would be comfortable for you-- most tend toward liberal/even progressive. That’s students and faculty. You would probably be a lot happier at a school like Washington and Lee, Wake Forest or the U of Richmond, which all have a more mixed political climate with some representation of the right.

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Very sad.

Professors disagree with each other all the time. Politics. Economics. Philosophy. If any advanced educational institution is only providing a singular narrative in any domain, then they are doing a disservice to their students. Students are there to learn. To think. To examine. While they may hear many well reasoned arguments that seem to make sense (and indeed may make sense), without the opportunity to examine other positions, students lack the perspective needed to come to their own conclusions. Your undergraduate years should be a time to question everything. Top liberal arts schools like Smith have a moral and practical obligation to encourage this discussion, not repress it. Life is very complicated and doesn’t lend itself to uniform, ideologically unilateral pronouncements. Everyone has some piece of the puzzle. While some ideas are more integrated, more complete, more deeply reasoned than others, at the individual level, they did not start out this way.

The principle problem is that Associate and Assistant non-tenured professors do not feel that they have the freedom to discuss alternative points of view. They are afraid that if they do, they will be attacked, penalized, and possibly dismissed from their academic institution. This is a disservice to that institutions students. Ideas that you do not agree with are uncomfortable by nature. They are threatening. This is the nature of civil debate. No student, however, has a right to shut down a civil debate solely because it makes them uncomfortable. This is the essence of a liberal arts education.

My daughter has applied to Smith (along with three other, small, female schools) + Macalester + Bowdoin. She is very liberal so I am not concerned with her fitting in at any of these schools. She is also very closed minded. Not open to discussion about opposing political and economic viewpoints. Again, should she be accepted, I am sure that she will fit in nicely with the culture.