Students wonder: How will MHC change in the next decade?


The beginning of a new semester and a new calendar year has inspired Mount Holyoke students to reflect on how the school will change over the next decade. The community's reaction to the Trump administration, the construction of the new community center and the future of alumnae relations in the coming years are at the forefront of the student body's minds. 

Amanda Manaster '19, a participant in a pen pal program with members of the class of 1969, said that, "The school has changed so muchºEven when I started mentioning terms we have now, like J-Term, and talking about computers, [my pen pal] couldn't really connect with that." On a basic level, the culture of the institution has seemed to have changed drastically over time. 

In a world where there is an incredible amount of uncertainty about the new presidency, Mount Holyoke students feel that now more than ever is the time to take their on-campus activism outside the gates of the college. "[Trump's] whole platform goes against everything this campus stands for: female rights, immigrants, international students, race equality, even funding for the arts. I don't think this is the type of place that would just stay quiet about that," said Alex Kenoian '19. "Now that policy is going to be passed in a tangible way, maybe people will really start to take their fights off-campus."Manaster agreed, saying, "I feel like the goal obviously is to not be insulated, but it might be easier said than done."

"I think it will bring us together," said Avia Jacobs '19, reflecting upon the campus atmosphere the day after the election. Citing a mood of solidarity and collective pain, Jacobs believes that these feelings will lead to a greater sense of unity, as well as hopefully the protection of peers who are threatened by a Trump administration.

Another drastic change that will affect the campus in the coming years will be the new community center fondly coined "Super Blanch" by students, administration and faculty. The construction work is visible to every student as they walk by Blanchard each day. Despite new food options and modern spaces, many are worried about crowds and the loss of student jobs. "If we think lunch rush is bad at Blanch [now], just imagine 2,000 students in a slightly larger place," Jacobs said while eating in the current Blanchard Great Room. Kenoian added, "There's already so little on-campus employment here. The fact that they're going to then condense that, I don't know how they're going to give everyone work-study." 

The generational differences in the alumnae community also might bring about significant change in the years to come. In the past, said Dani Planer '19, "it was harder to go to college and challenge traditional forms of success," leading graduates of a prestigious institution like Mount Holyoke towards more conventional and high-paying career paths. "A lot of the people I know [at Mount Holyoke now] aren't going to have a ton of money. They'll be successful in their own right but not in the same way that older alums may have defined it. It will be interesting to see who has control over policy and decision making as time goes on," said Planer. As the accessibility of higher education increases, what does that mean for the makeup of an alumnae network at a historic college like Mount Holyoke? 

Additionally, divergence between recent alums and those from classes as far back as 1969 may present challenges. Manaster's pen pal correspondence illuminates discrepancies in the Mount Holyoke experience in the nearly sixty years since Manaster's pen pal was a student. "She doesn't quite understand how hard it is to get into college or med school now," says Manaster, citing the fact that a much smaller number of women applied and went to college sixty years ago. "It's just a very different experience...The intention of the pen pal program was to help us, but it's kind of hard because of the time gap."