Monday, June 17, 2013

Interview with Karen Afre '12

Excerpt from my April 17 interview with Karen Afre '12:

Callista Womick: What would you say makes a difference being woman on
campus from being a man, other than just the spaces? Although that’s a big part of it.
Karen Afre: That’s definitely a big part of it. But, like, even looking at our professors, like, specific departments all have male professors. It was just very different for me being from an all-girl high school. I think maybe we had three male teachers. And so I wasn’t really used to learning from a male professor. And so I know it’s been really hard for a lot of my friends, too, majoring in the sciences or majoring in engineering not to have many female professors.
And then even class dynamics. In a lot of the upper level science courses, it’s, like, maybe you’ll have two or three women in the class, and that’s pretty much it.
Womick: Yeah.
Afre:  Yeah. So it’s just—it’s just been so different. So when I applied here, I didn’t know that Dartmouth had just gone co-ed—this is, like the forty—forty years of coeducation, so wehad a conference and that’s it. [Laughs.] Like, there’s nothing else on the student side. But I have that in the works. I’ve been speaking with a couple of other students, and I think we might be doing this panel in the fall, kind of like Dartmouth women through the decades.
Womick: Oh, cool!
Afre: Yeah. So I started the planning for that way too late, so it’s not realistic to do it this term, so I think we’re going to postpone it. We’ll see what happens. But I’m going off topic. [Laughs.]
Womick: No, this is good.
Afre: No, no, no. What was the original question? Oh, yeah. So I was talking about professors and, like, class dynamics. Yeah. And so I didn’t know it had only been forty years. So it blew my mind when I actually sat down and thought about it. I remember
wearing Dartmouth rugby gear. And one of our warm-up suits was sponsored by the Originals, the first class of Dartmouth women who played rugby. And then I saw the
date on it, and I was, like, Whoa! Like, that was so recent! [Laughter.]
But just, like, little things. Or even when older alums come back and they want to sing “The Men of Dartmouth” song, which is the alma mater. And, I remember, kind of like cringing at that and just being, like, “Wait, wait! What song are you talking about? ‘The Men of Dartmouth’ song?” And them just being, “Oh, no, we have women now. Let’s sing the Dartmouth song.”

I would be curious to—I kind of wish I had—I mean, this statement’s not coming out right. Not that I wish that I’d gone to another school, but I wish I could know how it’s like going to another school that went co-ed a long, long time ago and not just forty years ago.

Dartmouth Community and Dartmouth’s World is an ongoing oral history project that launched in 2012. The project’s goal is to document the changing nature of the Dartmouth community in the second half of the twentieth century with an emphasis on the concept of the insider and outsider and how those roles and perceptions change for various constituencies over time. Narrators will include members of the Dartmouth community from 1945 to the present, representing a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives.

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