Veda Bridgelal, June 24, 2021

Dublin Core

Title

Veda Bridgelal, June 24, 2021

Subject

African American college students

Description

In this oral history, Veda Bridgelal '24 opens up about her experiences as a first-year, fitting in, adjusting to being at a primarily-white school, but also feeling she’s on a path to success.

Date

2021-06-24

Format

video

Identifier

MCA_11

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Hailey Petrus

Interviewee

Veda Bridgelal

Duration

30:36

OHMS Object Text

5.4 June 24, 2021 Veda Bridgelal, June 24, 2021 MCA_11 MCA-D History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College Muhlenberg College: Trexler Library Oral History Repository African American college students Veda Bridgelal Hailey Petrus video/mov BridgelalVeda_20210624_video.mp4 1:|14(11)|46(4)|61(4)|75(12)|91(2)|104(13)|118(5)|132(15)|150(17)|164(14)|179(13)|193(6)|207(7)|223(1)|236(14)|250(15)|266(3)|283(12)|297(2)|308(11)|321(9)|334(7)|346(3)|359(7)|375(1)|388(4)|406(16)|426(3)|438(13)|453(12) 0 https://youtu.be/6SFwhtutWso YouTube video English 7 Introductory Remarks HAILEY PETRUS: OK. My name is Hailey Petrus, and I am here with Veda Bridgelal to talk about your experiences at Muhlenberg College. Our goal is to collect oral histories of people's unique experiences during their years as a student, to preserve information for future generations to access. The oral histories are an integral part of our course, “The History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College.” We are meeting on Zoom on Thursday, June 24th, 2021. Thank you for your willingness to speak with us today. To start, can you please state your full name and spell it for me? VB: OK. My name is Veda Kaitlan Bridgelal. V-E-D-A K-A-I-T-L-A-N B-R-I-D-G-E-L-A-L 120 Early Influences How did you become interested in and, like, choose the college experience in general ; what were your major influences and how did you know that Muhlenberg College was the school you wanted to attend? VB: I honestly looked at money. I knew that I wanted to go away, but I knew, like, a main limitation for me would be money. And Muhlenberg gave me the most financial aid out of all other schools that I applied to. I had also visited there my junior year, and I actually really liked it, I liked how nice everyone was to me. And I had met this one girl, she was a tour guide, her name was Rasalee and she was a brown girl. And it was just kind of nice to connect with her because there are a lot of white students and she made me feel really welcome there. And she was like &quot ; The school is so welcoming and you will automatically feel like you are part of a community.&quot ; And I just kinda liked the vibes that I was feeling when I was there ; I felt like I was at home and like it looked like a place I could call home. But again, like, the money factor really confirmed that I was going to go there. And then after I got my financial aid package, I did ED [early decision] to the school. 193 First Year Experiences HP: OK, so describe for me what it was like entering Muhlenberg and what ways were you involved in social and curricular activities, and what are some of the more memorable moments during what you've-- the year you've had at Muhlenberg so far and [you] can be completely honest. You don't have to sugarcoat. VB: OK. I honestly hated my first semester there ; there were only freshmen on campus, so I didn't really get to know much of a community. And because of the Covid restrictions, we didn't have much opportunity to socialize, and so, like, things kind of became really cliquey based on any ways that you knew each other before we got to school, like football teams, like with their football players, athletes would be with athletes, dancers with dancers. And that segregation I didn't really feel when I was visiting the school. 284 Extracurricular Activities HP: In what ways-- like what type of social and, like, extracurricular activities, were you or are you involved in at Muhlenberg? And what were some of your more memorable moments, good or bad? VB: I am an EL [Emerging Leader]. I'm an EL ambassador. I work for Muhlenberg Activities Council, [I’m] in Women in Business. I'm now a Student Representative, financial rep, for Student Government. Um, what else do I do? I feel like that's kind of it, but sometimes they're usually more I just kind of forget. It's really easy to get involved at Muhlenberg so… Any club, like, you name it, I'm probably in there. Favorite memory? 331 Memorable Moments HP: Some of your more memorable, like, things from your first year that you're like, &quot ; I probably will never forget this,&quot ; whether it's a good moment, a bad moment, it can be, like, a day you went into class and something-something-something happened or you're walking the campus, you're meeting with a professor. Really anything. VB: Oh, I was in Education Class and we were talking about, like, undocumented people in New York City, and I think when you're talking about undocumented people, it's very important, like, your diction and how you word things, and this boy in my class, he kept calling them “illegals.” And,like, a person can't physically be legal. I mean, be illegal, or legal for that fact. And that just kind of bothered me because the professor didn't correct him and the professor is kind of all about advocacy and stuff. So I was like, how can you not pick up on that? But it kind of stuck with me because I was getting mad in that class and like, it sounds pretty small, but when I grew up in my school, we kind of learned not to say that--it was offensive to call people that. And so, like, I was kind of getting mad and I was about to tear up, because I didn't know how to speak up because, again, like I was the only person of color in my class. I didn't know what to say. Like, kind of...overpowered, I guess? 445 Thoughts about First Year Seminar HP: As an EL, what was the name of your First Year Seminar? VB: Oh, “Zest for Reasoned and Civil Debate” with Brian Mello. HP: OK, so. This one is going to be a little bit harder to answer because you've only kind of like been in for, I guess, a school year so far, like it's your first year of college, but would you do things differently if you could start this year over? Do you have any regrets? And in what ways did your experiences so far at Muhlenberg-- do you think it'll have an impact on your life? And what do you see for the future of students of color? Ok, that was a lot of questions, I'm sorry. 562 Reflections on Muhlenberg's Impact on Future Life HP: The next one was &quot ; in what ways did your experiences at Muhlenberg so far, what impact do you think they'll have on your life?&quot ; VB: I definitely think Muhlenberg is putting me on a path for success, like as much as the community is its own thing, I feel like Muhlenberg, like, the school in itself is a great resource. I like the Career Center, they helped me with my resume a lot. And I know that they'll help me land a great job when I graduate. And like, as someone who's looking for stability in their life because they never really had it, I feel like Muhlenberg offers students of color a great chance for stability post-college. 610 Advice for Future Students of Color VB: I honestly think, like, if you go to Muhlenberg and you're a student of color and you really give in, like, you put in the work at the school, you will be successful. But I feel like your time there-- you're not going to find your people at Muhlenberg. I just felt like when I thought of college before I got in, I just was like &quot ; oh my God, I feel like I'm gonna find my people, like it's going to be great,&quot ; yadda, yadda, yadda. But it wasn't really like that for me ; for me, it's kind of like, oh, I have a few friends and like, I spend all my time with them. And then like, Muhlenberg is here to help me get to a bigger goal if that makes sense. Like for students of color, a lot of people that go to the school can agree, like, you just kind of have to keep it pushing at Muhlenberg and graduate and like you just get your job after. So, yeah. 663 Suggestions for Improvements for Students of Color HP: OK. I guess kind of further building off of what you say, what do you think it is about-- besides there just being, I guess, besides the fact that, like, it is a predominantly white institution, what else do you think there is that keeps, I guess, students of color from being able to find their people and find their environments, find different communities that make them want to feel comfortable and safe? And also, what do you think the school could do, like, the administration or really like any faculty or anything, could do to help move that objective along? VB: Well, I just feel like a lot of the white students that are there are very privileged and, like, when you are privileged, it's kind of hard to see what others go through and what they can experience. And I feel like their privilege plays a lot in how they look at us and like how they speak to us. Like, I know a lot of them, like, show off that white savior complex and that kind of pushes me away from them because I don't want nothing to do with that and, I don't know, like it really is just like their personalities, like you can kind of see through their privilege and some of them are great, like some of them are, like, an ally, like they will fight the fight with you. And that's great. But not-- there's not enough of them if that makes sense. 1122 Demands from Black Students in 60s &amp ; 70s But while we're on that: my next question, which is kind of like really important to the research I'm doing, is that, of course since students of color had started getting admitted to Muhlenberg, and since they started making, like, the different clubs, that the Association of Black Collegiates and like just LGBTQ organizations, all of these for like all of our, what do we call them at Muhlenberg, our affinity groups. There have been demands that many groups have made over the years that-- basically of ways of things that they feel like Muhlenberg needs to do better, to basically be more diverse, but also to push the inclusion part of it, because I hear a lot, which I've also realized that people at a lot of institutions, a lot of schools, but Muhlenberg included, they focus a lot on the diversity and forget the inclusion part, which is kind of like a lot of what you were speaking about now, that even with the students of color that do come, we don't really get, like, as integrated into the community and as as welcomed as we could be as other students, so that if there were, like, anything, if you could give Muhlenberg a list of demands, there's one that the faculty also came out with recently in June 2020. So there's stuff on it, like about trainings, about hiring more Black faculty or just faculty of color in general. It had, like, making Africana [Studies] also a major and not just a minor. So just stuff along those lines. If there were any demands that you could give to Muhlenberg, what would they be? You could take a second to think, too. 1286 Improvements for Muhlenberg So it's literally anything that you feel would help you to have a more-- a better time at Muhlenberg for the next three years. VB: Well, I think that Muhlenberg needs to hold our athletes more accountable, like I know they give a lot of leeway to like, the lacrosse team, and that's really not fair, because just because I'm not, like, an athlete doesn't mean that I shouldn't be cut the same slack. Like, there's a lot of favoritism, so I guess the favoritism for, like, athletes. Uh, demands... I don't know, like it's kind of hard to, like, explain how you want to be included. Like I myself don't know a way to, like, do that. So, like, maybe more ethnic events. Like, the only ethnic event that I've seen is that they had like, jambalaya for...what'd they have that for again? Huh? 1627 Discussion about Retention HP: Yeah. So with that being said, and I've also heard a lot of students say that Muhlenberg with that, with having that diverse Admissions committee and them being great at their jobs on top of that, they say that Muhlenberg is really good at getting students of color or even getting faculty of color and extremely bad at keeping us. VB: Yes, [inaudible]. HP: Yes, I hear that a lot, I've heard it from very-- a lot of students and I've heard it-- obviously we don't have as many faculty of color, but like they've told me that-- I've heard before that from some faculty members who have left and not stayed long, that sort of that same thing that Muhlenberg is really good at reeling people in and they're really, really bad at basically keeping them on the hook. VB: A thousand percent. HP: As you're kind of saying, how do you feel about that? Do you agree, do you disagree and we'll just start with that. Do you agree, do you disagree? 1813 Closing Comment HP: So you think that is all the questions I have. So thank you. VB: I can't hear you bro. HP: You can't hear me? VB: I can hear you now. HP: I said I think that's all the questions I have. So I'm just-- I'm going to stop the recording. VB: I'm glad I could be of-- MovingImage In this oral history, Veda Bridgelal '24 opens up about her experiences as a first-year, fitting in, adjusting to being at a primarily-white school, but also feeling she’s on a path to success. VEDA BRIDGELALJUNE 24, 2021 VEDA BRIDGELAL: Hi Hailey! Hi audience. HAILEY PETRUS: OK. My name is Hailey Petrus, and I am here with Veda Bridgelal to talk about your experiences at Muhlenberg College. Our goal is to collect oral histories of people&#039 ; s unique experiences during their years as a student, to preserve information for future generations to access. The oral histories are an integral part of our course, &quot ; The History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College.&quot ; We are meeting on Zoom on Thursday, June 24th, 2021. Thank you for your willingness to speak with us today. To start, can you please state your full name and spell it for me? VB: OK. My name is Veda Kaitlan Bridgelal. V-E-D-A K-A-I-T-L-A-N B-R-I-D-G-E-L-A-L HP: Will you please share the year you plan to graduate from Muhlenberg. VB: 2024. HP: Thank you. Do you consent to this interview today? VB: Yes. HP: Do you consent to having this interview transcribed, digitized and made publicly available online in searchable formats? VB: Yes. HP: Do you consent to having this interview be stored in the archives of Muhlenberg College? VB: Yes. HP: Do you consent to Muhlenberg College and researchers using your interview for educational purposes in other formats, including films, articles, websites, presentations and other formats? VB: Yes. HP: And do you understand that you&#039 ; re not receiving any monetary compensation for your time today and are not required to participate by Muhlenberg College. VB: Yes. HP: OK, we can get started now. OK, so you were a freshman this past school year, so it&#039 ; s going to kind of turn to that first. How did you become interested in and, like, choose the college experience in general ; what were your major influences and how did you know that Muhlenberg College was the school you wanted to attend? VB: I honestly looked at money. I knew that I wanted to go away, but I knew, like, a main limitation for me would be money. And Muhlenberg gave me the most financial aid out of all other schools that I applied to. I had also visited there my junior year, and I actually really liked it, I liked how nice everyone was to me. And I had met this one girl, she was a tour guide, her name was Rasalee and she was a brown girl. And it was just kind of nice to connect with her because there are a lot of white students and she made me feel really welcome there. And she was like &quot ; The school is so welcoming and you will automatically feel like you are part of a community.&quot ; And I just kinda liked the vibes that I was feeling when I was there ; I felt like I was at home and like it looked like a place I could call home. But again, like, the money factor really confirmed that I was going to go there. And then after I got my financial aid package, I did ED [early decision] to the school. HP: OK, so describe for me what it was like entering Muhlenberg and what ways were you involved in social and curricular activities, and what are some of the more memorable moments during what you&#039 ; ve-- the year you&#039 ; ve had at Muhlenberg so far and [you] can be completely honest. You don&#039 ; t have to sugarcoat. VB: OK. I honestly hated my first semester there ; there were only freshmen on campus, so I didn&#039 ; t really get to know much of a community. And because of the Covid restrictions, we didn&#039 ; t have much opportunity to socialize, and so, like, things kind of became really cliquey based on any ways that you knew each other before we got to school, like football teams, like with their football players, athletes would be with athletes, dancers with dancers. And that segregation I didn&#039 ; t really feel when I was visiting the school. I also found it really hard to fit in with the white kids. Like, a lot of them would just kind of stare at me, and they wouldn&#039 ; t say anything. And I felt really uncomfortable. I also kind of struggled with imposter syndrome when I was there the first few months because I felt like none of my words, like I wasn&#039 ; t good enough compared to the other white students, especially because I was kind of like the one person of color in my classes, or, like, one of two people out of twenty-something people. So, I would say, fitting in was kind of like the hardest part for me because I didn&#039 ; t really know how to. Um, what was the other question? HP: In what ways-- like what type of social and, like, extracurricular activities, were you or are you involved in at Muhlenberg? And what were some of your more memorable moments, good or bad? VB: I am an EL [Emerging Leader]. I&#039 ; m an EL ambassador. I work for Muhlenberg Activities Council, [I&#039 ; m] in Women in Business. I&#039 ; m now a Student Representative, financial rep, for Student Government. Um, what else do I do? I feel like that&#039 ; s kind of it, but sometimes they&#039 ; re usually more I just kind of forget. It&#039 ; s really easy to get involved at Muhlenberg so-- Any club, like, you name it, I&#039 ; m probably in there. Favorite memory? HP: Some of your more memorable, like, things from your first year that you&#039 ; re like, &quot ; I probably will never forget this,&quot ; whether it&#039 ; s a good moment, a bad moment, it can be, like, a day you went into class and something-something-something happened or you&#039 ; re walking the campus, you&#039 ; re meeting with a professor. Really anything. VB: Oh, I was in Education Class and we were talking about, like, undocumented people in New York City, and I think when you&#039 ; re talking about undocumented people, it&#039 ; s very important, like, your diction and how you word things, and this boy in my class, he kept calling them &quot ; illegals.&quot ; And,like, a person can&#039 ; t physically be legal. I mean, be illegal, or legal for that fact. And that just kind of bothered me because the professor didn&#039 ; t correct him and the professor is kind of all about advocacy and stuff. So I was like, how can you not pick up on that? But it kind of stuck with me because I was getting mad in that class and like, it sounds pretty small, but when I grew up in my school, we kind of learned not to say that--it was offensive to call people that. And so, like, I was kind of getting mad and I was about to tear up, because I didn&#039 ; t know how to speak up because, again, like I was the only person of color in my class. I didn&#039 ; t know what to say. Like, kind of...overpowered, I guess? So that was really memorable and then something less memorable is, oh, my First Year Seminar ; even though it was a class, we were kind of just like--not fooling around because we were still learning and talking about important things, but I felt like it was a space, like we could talk about important things, be comfortable with each other. And I really like that because I feel like Muhlenberg doesn&#039 ; t offer a lot of those spaces, so. HP: As an EL, what was the name of your First Year Seminar? VB: Oh, &quot ; Zest for Reasoned and Civil Debate&quot ; with Brian Mello. HP: OK, so. This one is going to be a little bit harder to answer because you&#039 ; ve only kind of like been in for, I guess, a school year so far, like it&#039 ; s your first year of college, but would you do things differently if you could start this year over? Do you have any regrets? And in what ways did your experiences so far at Muhlenberg-- do you think it&#039 ; ll have an impact on your life? And what do you see for the future of students of color? Ok, that was a lot of questions, I&#039 ; m sorry. VB: That&#039 ; s OK. HP: We&#039 ; re gonna start with &quot ; would you do things differently if you could start over, like, your school year&quot ; and &quot ; are there any regrets that you have so far about, like, being here or the way you handle it,&quot ; the way, I guess you kind of integrated yourself into the community, things like that. VB: I guess like-- our kind of change like-- OK, as much as I appreciate my First Year Seminar, I feel like it was kind of segregating us. Like, I just think there wasn&#039 ; t a chance for me to be exposed to more white kids even though I had other classes. And I feel like that was kind of a big part in me not like, being comfortable around them because I never really grew up around white people. I only have, like, one white friend, and she was the one white girl in our school. So, like, I didn&#039 ; t know how to speak to them, as crazy as it sounds. So, like, I feel like that FYS kind of-- it didn&#039 ; t really help. So I guess, like, I would kind of change that. But I don&#039 ; t think it will have an impact on me post-Muhlenberg, I think that it&#039 ; s something that&#039 ; s, like, a preference thing, if that makes sense. What was the question? HP: The next one was &quot ; in what ways did your experiences at Muhlenberg so far, what impact do you think they&#039 ; ll have on your life?&quot ; VB: I definitely think Muhlenberg is putting me on a path for success, like as much as the community is its own thing, I feel like Muhlenberg, like, the school in itself is a great resource. I like the Career Center, they helped me with my resume a lot. And I know that they&#039 ; ll help me land a great job when I graduate. And like, as someone who&#039 ; s looking for stability in their life because they never really had it, I feel like Muhlenberg offers students of color a great chance for stability post-college. HP: And what do you see for the future for students of color at Muhlenberg? VB: I honestly think, like, if you go to Muhlenberg and you&#039 ; re a student of color and you really give in, like, you put in the work at the school, you will be successful. But I feel like your time there-- you&#039 ; re not going to find your people at Muhlenberg. I just felt like when I thought of college before I got in, I just was like &quot ; oh my God, I feel like I&#039 ; m gonna find my people, like it&#039 ; s going to be great,&quot ; yadda, yadda, yadda. But it wasn&#039 ; t really like that for me ; for me, it&#039 ; s kind of like, oh, I have a few friends and like, I spend all my time with them. And then like, Muhlenberg is here to help me get to a bigger goal if that makes sense. Like for students of color, a lot of people that go to the school can agree, like, you just kind of have to keep it pushing at Muhlenberg and graduate and like you just get your job after. So, yeah. HP: OK. I guess kind of further building off of what you say, what do you think it is about-- besides there just being, I guess, besides the fact that, like, it is a predominantly white institution, what else do you think there is that keeps, I guess, students of color from being able to find their people and find their environments, find different communities that make them want to feel comfortable and safe? And also, what do you think the school could do, like, the administration or really like any faculty or anything, could do to help move that objective along? VB: Well, I just feel like a lot of the white students that are there are very privileged and, like, when you are privileged, it&#039 ; s kind of hard to see what others go through and what they can experience. And I feel like their privilege plays a lot in how they look at us and like how they speak to us. Like, I know a lot of them, like, show off that white savior complex and that kind of pushes me away from them because I don&#039 ; t want nothing to do with that and, I don&#039 ; t know, like it really is just like their personalities, like you can kind of see through their privilege and some of them are great, like some of them are, like, an ally, like they will fight the fight with you. And that&#039 ; s great. But not-- there&#039 ; s not enough of them if that makes sense. And because there&#039 ; s not enough, like, that discourages me. And usually I like the white kids who are like that, like they want to fight more than me, like they want to be at the top like, I don&#039 ; t know, like they want to-- they really are advocates and I appreciate that. But like, when you see the difference between them and someone who just doesn&#039 ; t really care about what happens to you,about your life, like what you go through, it just kind of sucks because, like, there&#039 ; s more of the bad then there is the good. What was the second question? HP: What do you think, if there is anything that the school itself could do to kind of like help change that and kind of like move towards a more, I guess, progressive thing for Muhlenberg. VB: Well, first of all, Ms. Karen in the bookshop, over here having &quot ; Blue Lives Matter&quot ; masks, not to name names, but I feel like that, like, they said it was a tiny mistake: it&#039 ; s not a mistake. You have to see that and press order. Like, honey, you have Black kids that go to your school, like, you think you&#039 ; re not gonna hear that. It&#039 ; s just kind of small stuff like that they think doesn&#039 ; t matter to us. I feel like educating their staff is very important because, again, like with that &quot ; illegal&quot ; &#039 ; thing, like it&#039 ; s very important to know how to use your diction when-- even if there&#039 ; s one person of color or no people of color, like, there doesn&#039 ; t have to be a person of color there for you to be respectful to a group of minorities. So that education plays a big role in that, and I don&#039 ; t know, I mean, like it was kind of hard for them to do in-person activities for us and the white students, and I get that. But like, I don&#039 ; t even know if they were having those before, like my time, because I only came in when there was Covid, but like if there weren&#039 ; t really big gatherings, like both groups can integrate. I feel like that just kind of like adds to the part of us kind of like separating off. So maybe, like, holding big gatherings, I guess that could help, and maybe just picking more students of color, like, I don&#039 ; t know, I feel like there&#039 ; s so many people of color in the world, you&#039 ; re telling me that you can&#039 ; t find a few more? I can literally name all the students of color that are in my grade on, like, one hand, like I know who they are and like, I never did before ; it would be the opposite, I could name all the white students on my hand. And now it&#039 ; s just kind of like &quot ; I only know five.&quot ; So, I just kind of sucks because, like, I definitely can&#039 ; t name all the white people, but I definitely can name all the people of color. So I think that says enough about itself. Like you should pick more students of color, more ethnic people, you see them ethnic names, you can pick it. And that&#039 ; s kind of, like, I just-- they need to focus a little bit more on, like, not money because, yes, they&#039 ; re an institution, they need money and funding, but give some other kids a chance. Just because we&#039 ; re not rich doesn&#039 ; t mean we won&#039 ; t bring something great to your school. That&#039 ; s it. HP: I will say first, before Covid, we did have the O[rientation]-groups, I guess would be in-person usually, but you can still, sort of-- A lot of the kids, still, weren&#039 ; t really receptive to a lot of us, even in O-groups, like, they would just ignore us. So, like, they wouldn&#039 ; t speak to us. And because, like you said, there are so few of us, a lot of our O-Groups, we were the only person of color within our group. So it was, like, a really miserable time for a lot of us because they tried to make it, like, mandatory, so it was bad enough, you know, for Emerging Leaders, we come early [Veda offers virtual fist-bump]-- Oh, I&#039 ; m sorry. It&#039 ; s bad enough that for Emerging Leaders, we already come early, so we kind of already get introduced to the resources. So it&#039 ; s like O-Groups for us is really about making connections to other people that are coming to the school. So the fact that we didn&#039 ; t really need the information and on top of that, like the other students didn&#039 ; t really want to associate and talk with us, it kind of made like those few days of orientation groups really miserable for us because, it felt like a waste of time at that point, we had kind of, met with the Career Center, we had toured the school. We did, like, all of those things with Ms. Robin [Riley-Casey] and Miss Kiyaana [Cox Jones]. So then to have to just sit here basically, and especially if you&#039 ; re the only person of color in your group, you&#039 ; re basically sitting here in silence for hours because nobody wants to notice you, nobody wants to acknowledge you. Yeah. VB: Just to add on to you. When they were doing, like, the Sedehi Diversity Project, I think, or like one of those like discrimination trainings, whatever you want to call it...I didn&#039 ; t like it because, like, for the discussion, they kind of look to you as the person of color to speak for it. And, like, I had to say to people, &quot ; Like, it&#039 ; s not my job to educate you just because I have brown skin,&quot ; like pick up a book and read it, I don&#039 ; t know what to tell you. And like, I just feel like it&#039 ; s a lot of, like, tokenism, in that school, especially when, like, you&#039 ; re the only person of color in that group, like, to kind of look to you for the answers, I don&#039 ; t have the answers. Like, I don&#039 ; t know what to tell you. I just don&#039 ; t like that. And I feel like all those, like, discrimination trainings... I kind of already knew because, like, those things happened to me, like, I&#039 ; m not learning about it happening to someone else. And like, I just feel like it was kind of a waste of time for me to be there because they told me about how my life goes, like, how I live my life. And like, it was more helpful for the white students than me because I know that already. So I feel like fixing the O-Group is an important thing too. HP: Yeah, that&#039 ; s what we did, our orientation, usually, that&#039 ; s when we had to watch the Sedehi Diversity Project, and it was the same. They kind of just sat there really quiet the whole time. They kind of, like, just sat really quiet the whole time, nobody really, like, spoke or anything. And so, yeah, we kind of had similar experiences, I guess, but yours was, like, more so, like, on Zoom, which is really, I guess, a really crazy comparison. But while we&#039 ; re on that: my next question, which is kind of like really important to the research I&#039 ; m doing, is that, of course since students of color had started getting admitted to Muhlenberg, and since they started making, like, the different clubs, that the Association of Black Collegiates and like just LGBTQ organizations, all of these for like all of our, what do we call them at Muhlenberg, our affinity groups. There have been demands that many groups have made over the years that-- basically of ways of things that they feel like Muhlenberg needs to do better, to basically be more diverse, but also to push the inclusion part of it, because I hear a lot, which I&#039 ; ve also realized that people at a lot of institutions, a lot of schools, but Muhlenberg included, they focus a lot on the diversity and forget the inclusion part, which is kind of like a lot of what you were speaking about now, that even with the students of color that do come, we don&#039 ; t really get, like, as integrated into the community and as as welcomed as we could be as other students, so that if there were, like, anything, if you could give Muhlenberg a list of demands, there&#039 ; s one that the faculty also came out with recently in June 2020. So there&#039 ; s stuff on it, like about trainings, about hiring more Black faculty or just faculty of color in general. It had, like, making Africana [Studies] also a major and not just a minor. So just stuff along those lines. If there were any demands that you could give to Muhlenberg, what would they be? You could take a second to think, too. VB: I definitely agree with the training, stuff like that-- that the faculty said and hiring more faculty of color, specifically more Black faculty of color, I mean, Black faculty people, because there isn&#039 ; t much, like there&#039 ; s a few Asian, but you don&#039 ; t really see them, well, at least I haven&#039 ; t seen that many Black professors. And I feel like that&#039 ; s also important because, like, you as a person of color, like, you like to see yourself represented because, kind of like, I can see myself in their position. Demands? I don&#039 ; t know, that&#039 ; s hard. HP: It can literally-- it doesn&#039 ; t have to be something, like, really like, the house that we&#039 ; re getting, that was a demand that was on-- that Diane Williams with the Association of Black Collegiates proposed fifty years ago, and Muhlenberg approved it and whatnot, and they just never got it until now, we finally got it fifty years later. So it&#039 ; s literally anything that you feel would help you to have a more-- a better time at Muhlenberg for the next three years. VB: Well, I think that Muhlenberg needs to hold our athletes more accountable, like I know they give a lot of leeway to like, the lacrosse team, and that&#039 ; s really not fair, because just because I&#039 ; m not, like, an athlete doesn&#039 ; t mean that I shouldn&#039 ; t be cut the same slack. Like, there&#039 ; s a lot of favoritism, so I guess the favoritism for, like, athletes. Uh, demands... I don&#039 ; t know, like it&#039 ; s kind of hard to, like, explain how you want to be included. Like I myself don&#039 ; t know a way to, like, do that. So, like, maybe more ethnic events. Like, the only ethnic event that I&#039 ; ve seen is that they had like, jambalaya for...what&#039 ; d they have that for again? Huh? HP: Was it Mardi Gras? VB: Yeah. And they had that and they had, like, Spanish food for Cinco de Mayo. So I think, like, I don&#039 ; t know, like you can&#039 ; t have, like ethnic and people of color on your campus and then feed them cheeseburgers everyday. Like, I think that needs to be how-- they need to put more seasoning in their food. That&#039 ; s what I demand. I don&#039 ; t know, like it&#039 ; s kind of hard because I don&#039 ; t know how to say, like &quot ; integrate me,&quot ; you know what I mean? Like, I don&#039 ; t know how to say, like, include me because for me, like, it was never really a problem to be integrated in the community because usually I&#039 ; m in, like, POC communities. But I think for Muhlenberg that kind of brings a bigger problem because a lot of the POC at the school are going into white fields. So I kind of, like, finding a way to address that then would significantly help, like, people like me and you. So. HP: OK, so with that being said, do you think that the way Muhlenberg is now is properly preparing us to go into those spaces? And I mean, as in, OK, because I know you talked about like, it does help us with, like, job security. Our education is amazing. Like our resources, like you said, if you choose to reach out to them and use them, are top tier, those are also amazing. But like you-- like you just said, it becomes more than that. Like we&#039 ; d still have to-- for a lot of us after we leave Muhlenberg, we&#039 ; ll still be in these white, predominantly white spaces. So do you think Muhlenberg prepares us to handle that properly with the way that they handle it themselves? And you can say why or why not, and if not, I guess, is there something they could do to change it? VB: I like to say that Muhlenberg will get you there, but they won&#039 ; t get you through there. They definitely can help me get my foot in the door. But I feel like from there it&#039 ; s kind of up to me to figure out how to navigate. I guess you can kind of, like, use how you navigate college with all the PWI [predominantly white institutions] who are-- you can fight, you can kind of use that. But then again, like you are going to be spending, like, a majority of your time at that job, like if you like it, it&#039 ; s also a workspace. So I don&#039 ; t know, I think that Muhlenberg helps you prepare for that, mostly because their Career Center is all white, I&#039 ; m pretty sure ; like they don&#039 ; t know what it&#039 ; s like to be in a career where you&#039 ; re the only person of color there, or like one of a few people of color, so maybe like kind of like diversifying the Career Center or like, yeah, diversifying, because I don&#039 ; t think a white person can possibly understand what it&#039 ; s like to be the only one of them in a room. So I would definitely say that. I feel like for certain fields they kind of need to diversify: I know Accounting are all white professors. As someone who&#039 ; s going into accounting, like in my head, I&#039 ; m just like, oh, look, it&#039 ; s automatically a white field like, in my head if that makes sense, like, it&#039 ; s kind of hard to see myself doing something where, like, all the people that are doing it are white. So I feel like diversifying their staff will help. Maybe bringing back, like, some alumni to speak about their experiences. I know Muhlenberg is very heavy on their alumni relationships because they have the Cardinal Keys and stuff like that. But I feel like they cater to the alumni, like they want to make them happy for donations rather than, like, bringing them back to speak about their life post-college, if that makes sense. Yeah. HP: OK. I think this is my last question, which I guess I kind of asked it, but I guess I&#039 ; m kind of posing it in a different way. So it&#039 ; s kind of like what you said, like when you leave, they kind of teach us how to get our foot in the door, but they don&#039 ; t teach us how to navigate it. And I&#039 ; ve heard that from a lot of students of color, about Muhlenberg themselves-- about Muhlenberg itself, because, as we know, Admissions is probably one of the most diverse departments on Muhlenberg&#039 ; s campus. VB: Eric Thompson. HP: Yeah, that&#039 ; s probably the most diverse department I&#039 ; ve seen on Muhlenberg&#039 ; s campus and I&#039 ; ve-- VB: Melissa Falk, Eric Thompson, [inaudible]. HP: Cindy isn&#039 ; t here now, she left, but she was here when I was a freshman. I guess she-- yeah. VB: [inaudible] why are you trying to fool me Muhlenberg? HP: Yeah. So with that being said, and I&#039 ; ve also heard a lot of students say that Muhlenberg with that, with having that diverse Admissions committee and them being great at their jobs on top of that, they say that Muhlenberg is really good at getting students of color or even getting faculty of color and extremely bad at keeping us. VB: Yes, [inaudible]. HP: Yes, I hear that a lot, I&#039 ; ve heard it from very-- a lot of students and I&#039 ; ve heard it-- obviously we don&#039 ; t have as many faculty of color, but like they&#039 ; ve told me that-- I&#039 ; ve heard before that from some faculty members who have left and not stayed long, that sort of that same thing that Muhlenberg is really good at reeling people in and they&#039 ; re really, really bad at basically keeping them on the hook. VB: A thousand percent. HP: As you&#039 ; re kind of saying, how do you feel about that? Do you agree, do you disagree and we&#039 ; ll just start with that. Do you agree, do you disagree? VB: I agree. The thought about transferring runs through my head a lot. But like, I know that, like, financially I couldn&#039 ; t go anywhere else unless I wanted to stay at home. Again, like when I first got accepted to Muhlenberg, I didn&#039 ; t [phone ringing]...to Muhlenberg, I was, like, really excited to go there and like basically everything in my head, like nothing was negative it was kinda positive. But then I had a meeting, I had a EL meeting and my mentor was basically telling me, like the honest part about Muhlenberg and like, what it was really like. And I respected it a lot because usually, like Admissions and like, the orientation leaders and the tour guides, like they&#039 ; re just gonna tell you about the highlights of Muhlenberg and they&#039 ; re not really telling you the downside. And like that in itself is an issue, because, like, if I don&#039 ; t see how it balances out, like what outweighs what, then like, I don&#039 ; t know what to expect when I get there and that could hurt me. But like, I agree because I feel like Muhlenberg, like honestly I feel like I don&#039 ; t fit in when I have a class of all white students, I don&#039 ; t want to go because I&#039 ; m uncomfortable. If we&#039 ; re talking about race I definitely don&#039 ; t want to go. And like those things just didn&#039 ; t really come into my head when I was applying there. And I wish they had, like I wish I had someone to tell me about it because, like, that&#039 ; s had-- that&#039 ; s what makes me want to leave. Because I&#039 ; m just so uncomfortable all the time and like, white kids are staring at you and like, they&#039 ; re looking at you. It&#039 ; s just like I just don&#039 ; t really feel that comfortable. And that&#039 ; s why I think Muhlenberg is good at getting them, because you have, like all this like, like dreams and like possibilities of what Muhlenberg could be, and then you get there, it&#039 ; s like, oh, look, it&#039 ; s not at all what I thought it was. So I think they need to do better with their advertising of what the school actually is for students of color. HP: So you think that is all the questions I have. So thank you. VB: I can&#039 ; t hear you bro. HP: You can&#039 ; t hear me? VB: I can hear you now. HP: I said I think that&#039 ; s all the questions I have. So I&#039 ; m just-- I&#039 ; m going to stop the recording. VB: I&#039 ; m glad I could be of-- Copyright remains with the interview subject and their heirs. video The interviews collected as part of the project &quot ; The History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College&quot ; are hereby shared with the consent of the participants under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). Under this license, the interviewees have agreed for the interviews to be publicly available in the Trexler Library archives and as a freely available resource on the internet for educators, scholars, students, and others who wish to explore the many stories about Muhlenberg College’s path toward diversity and inclusion. 0

Files

BridgealVeda_Screenshot.png


Citation

“Veda Bridgelal, June 24, 2021,” Muhlenberg College Oral History Repository, accessed November 29, 2022, https://trexlerworks.muhlenberg.edu/mc_oralhistory/items/show/83.