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November 30, 2005 Conversation Dinner Responses

Below are responses to a questionnaire by participants in the Conversation Dinner that took place on November 30, 2005 in the Cushing House Muti-Purpose Room. The Campus Life Office, Campus Life Resource Group (CLRG) and Cushing House sponsored the event and recorded these responses, which came from Vassar students, faculty, staff, and administrative personnel. The questionnaire did not ask for respondents to include their names, position at the college, or any other biographical information so as to provide the space for uninhibited commentary and critique. As CLRG strives to encourage all members of the Vassar community to voice their experience in and around the College, herein CLRG has strived to transcribe the responses verbatim and in precisely the same form as they appeared on the pages on which respondents wrote. CLRG has done so that the Vassar community now and in the future can appreciate individuals' accounts of their experience at and understanding of Vassar College.


Please share your thoughts on the topic, “Vassar and the Community”.   As a theme for All College Day (February 22), how could it be presented for discussion?  Your suggestions for future Conversation Dinner topics?

THE RESPONSES (numbered, but in no particular order):

1. I think it is a topic that the community as a whole should be talking about.  We cannot ignore that we live within the Poughkeepsie community, but many people would prefer to.

2. How ironic that an All College Day themed “Vassar and the Community” will likely be held nearly exclusively on campus?  Include some events off-campus.  Have more panels/events etc. leading up to All-College Day so that it is not a one day event. Include members of “the community” in planning. (And not just members of social service agencies).

3. It was great to talk to everyone.  We should talk about these topics more:

  • Identity – being Black, being Latino/Latina, being White
  • Not providing imperialotic aid
  • providing a channel/venue/forum/NonProfit/ club to link resources and needs
  • Contextualize the experience of residents of the City of Poughkeepsie as well as the town
  • getting Poughkeepsie kids to vote
  • starting strong local economies
  • permanent dedication
  • white privilege/possessive investment in whiteness
  • take down the wall, barriers and gates

4. Clearly, there seems to be great interest among students and staff to reach out to the Poughkeepsie community.  If we are to make strides towards a mutual town/college relationship, we need to find a way to create avenues of communication.  All College Day would be a great place to share ideas on how to do this!

5. I think it's a very good idea.  I think a list of ways to be involved should be largely available and a dialogue about why students don't go into the community more and a deconstruction of the stigmas about Poughkeepsie.

6. The dinner was very good. The conversation went really well and the food was amazing. This type of format could work for many topics. Things like racial issues, sexuality, and sexual orientation issues or socio-economic issues. I really enjoyed it and felt was a good conversation to have.

-David Mata ‘07

7. My main suggestion is to split the topic into more specific discussions. Some of the issues I would like to see discussed are apathy and complacency at Vassar, and assumptions we make about each other.

8. Statistics (crime) Maps


  • Voting during non-Presidential Election years
  • Class (economic)
  • Where's your mother from and Mother Truths
  • Relationships (intimate)

10. I think that this is a very helpful way to get ideas articulated; I am worried, however, about bringing these ideas to action.  Perhaps it would be helpful to get participants involved on community interaction so that we act on our words.

11. As I shared in my table/group, I think this particular conversation has needed space in the Vassar dialogue bubble.  I also think that it is very important to speak about the lack of conversation whith the communities outside the Vassar gates (which need to be taken down), and start moving toward a more inclusive relationship with the local world that surrounds us.  I'd also like to thank the Campus Life office for these great spaces of conversation.  How about taking down the wall as a kick off event for All College Day.