Tri-Co/Bi-Co

Tri-Co /trī-kō/ – The Tri-College Consortium is a network between Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr. This benefits us all, expanding our library resources, allowing us to take classes at these other schools, providing a free dinner getaway (over going out to eat which costs real money), etc. I was introduced to the Tri-Co early on since I participated in the Tri-Co Summer Justice Institute. This was a week of programming before orientation week, focusing on social justice issues and a lot of the lingo that I would be exposed to in college (e.g. cultural appropriation, code switching). The program consists of 20 students from each campus. Throughout the week, programming rotates from campus to campus. 

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Tri-Co love (photo taken at BMC)

The good thing about this was that early on, I got to see the other two Tri-Co campuses! I had toured Haverford as a prospective student, but it got muddled in with touring other liberal arts schools, so it wasn’t until this program that I had a chance truly see the Haverford campus (including Sharpless, very similar to the Swarthmore Sharples dining hall, and the Magill library, comparable to our Magill walk!). Though I still benefit from a map and directions, being familiar with some of the main places at Haverford is nice when I visit. Plus, I met people through Tri-Co! Some of my Tri-Co memories blur with my orientation to Swarthmore, but having friends among the Tri-Co definitely makes me more likely to actually visit to these other schools instead of just thinking about going. 

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Battle of the Bands at Bryn Mawr is a hit every year, yet I only see the Swatties who are actually in the bands, save a few groupies, at the show usually.

The Bi-Co, or the bi-college consortium, gives insight into how different the various relationships among the three colleges are. I always describe it as Swarthmore being more like a distant cousin in the relationship. Swarthmore is a little bit further away (distance-wise) and (stereotypically) is a little bit more rigorous. The strong relationship between Bryn Mawr and Haverford is driven by their proximity (~10 minutes apart driving). They share a radio, a newspaper, and a bus that commutes between the two schools separate from the shuttle that circulates among all three institutions.

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One of these things is not like the other…

In my view, Haverford and Bryn Mawr students utilize the Tri-Co system and resources so much better than Swatties because it comes so naturally to them. It seems common for Bryn Mawr and Haverford students to take classes at the other school and even at Swarthmore. Yet, rarely do Swatties venture off our campus to other Tri-Co schools. It seems a mix between having such crazy lives here and not enough time already—much less an extra 40-minute commute to get to our classes. I think we self-select to be homebodies. Having the Tri-Co is great, but not all Swatties would say it changed their Swarthmore experience significantly. 

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First night Passover Seder at Haverford with friends from all of the schools coming together!

How can we change this culture without being able to alter the physical locality of the campuses? People who have engaged say how fulfilling it is to utilize the Tri-Co. I love going to battle of the bands at Bryn Mawr, or Passover seders at Chabad at Haverford. It’s fun hearing about their school traditions (May Day/Pinwheel day?) compared to our wacky events. Not to mention that there are familiar faces at these other schools! So maybe it’s not second nature for Swatties to be as involved in the Tri-Co, but doesn’t this just mean Swatties should do what they do best and work hard, putting in the extra effort to cultivate this relationship?

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