The College’s Women’s Weekend falls short due to costs, exclusivity

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COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

By now I’m sure everyone has heard that this year, 2018, is the 100th anniversary of women being admitted to the College of William and Mary — white women, at least. Naturally, the College has decided to have a whole year of celebration, commemorating those women who boldly went and those who continue to boldly go.

A whole year celebrating and boosting the accomplishments of women sounds great. As a woman who loves other women, that sounds right up my alley.

The only issue is that the College’s new events are overwhelmingly geared toward rich alumnae, specifically rich legacy alumnae who are in to weekend conferences where they can talk to other alumnae about how great it is being successful and a woman. Let’s look closer at Women’s Weekend.

“In 2018-19, the Tribe community will be celebrating 100 years of women at William & Mary. To commemorate this milestone, the university will host the first-ever W&M Women’s Weekend September 21-23, 2018,” boasts the College’s website.

Cool! The schedule here is packed with seminars on how to navigate business and the professional world, getting women elected to public office, and a panel on the #metoo movement, which are all great opportunities. Anna Deveare Smith of “The West Wing” is going to be here Friday night, which seems like a great opportunity for theatre and film students to get to talk to her.

Those panels and seminars would be great for business students, government student, and any student planning on working in the entertainment industry. It is very convenient that the College is bringing all that stuff to campus so we can experience it, right?

Just kidding! This weekend is for alumnae only. Come back when you’ve graduated and have $250 to spend on registration alone, not to mention accommodations.

You think parking is bad now? Wait ‘til the alumnae get here and have super fancy parking passes so they can park wherever the whole weekend.

Think back to all those times certain buildings and parts of buildings have been closed off because a seminar or some outside event is happening. That will occur all over campus during the planned Women’s Weekend.

You might think I’m being an alarmist and complaining about nothing. Maybe I am an alarmist; but I think I have a valid reason for complaint.

Since my time here at the College started in 2016 I’ve lived and breathed theater and we have not had a single masterclass or chat with any famous folks that the school has brought in for other purposes.

The idea that any students would exponentially gain from face to face time with Laverne Cox or Anderson Cooper or Anna Deveare Smith has apparently never crossed the minds of the people in charge of planning such events.

This year, the theater department faculty fought for a student lottery to get a livestream of the Anna Deveare Smith performance in a tiny room in Sadler, but without a lot of pestering the folks in charge, even that would not have happened.

Students are not allowed admittance to the live performance in Commonwealth unless it doesn’t sell out, and then there’ll be some student rush tickets available.

Here’s the main point: The College has a serious problem with how it prizes its alumnae over its students. They claim this year is “to celebrate the accomplishments of the 55,000+ alumnae, and the many women students, faculty and staff.” However, the students will be expected to keep quiet and out of sight as they prep for the alums arriving.

In a world that is already trying to break my spirit, and in a school that prioritizes the comfort of alumnae over my needs and mental health, I do not feel very celebrated.

Email Andi Nealon at adnealon@email.wm.edu.