My experiences with the student body are varied and unique. It's easy to talk to anyone, as long as one does the usual, like staying away from politics and religion unless you want to get into a heated debate. My experiences with all the different religious, LGBT, socio-economic, and other groups tends to be positive. No-one tries to force themselves on me, except for the Communist Paper that shows up in front of the Campus Center once a semester. I think the only student that would feel out of place is an extreme right-wing, bible-thumping Republican. Then again, why anyone with that kind of background they would go to a college anywhere in the Philadelphia area would be beyond me. Most students wear whatever they want to. Those without specific religious requirements, at least. I've seen the spectrum from "extreme punk" to "$500 jeans and shoes twice as expensive". No-one really cares, as long as you're clean. Yes, all types of students interact. Um...that's a hard question to answer. We have 3 dining halls, and each tends to attract its own group of people. BROADLY generalizing, Rhoads gets all the sports teams(since it's open late), Haffner gets the eco-conscious onces(it has a large salad bar and a Vegan bar), and Erdman gets whoever's left (just kidding). I tend to eat at Rhoads because it's closest to my dorm. Most Bryn Mawr students are from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern area of the US, though I have met someone from the Southeast Asia. Financial backgrounds vary, but a significant amount of people don't need financial aid, if you get my drift. God, you can't escape politics on campus. Left and center are the general leanings of the populace. Everyone I've ever spoken to is ignoring Real Life for the time being. The "Bryn Mawr Bubble" is nice, at least for now.
Racial tensions on campus are something of great discussion. It seems that in the past 3 years, a number of events among different students of various racial and ethnic backgrounds have sparked a heated and emotional campus-wide discussion on race, class, religion, and ethnicity. A republican would feel out of place at Bryn Mawr. Students make the general assumption that everyone is a liberal, democratic, LGBTQ-friendly, open, and aware person. Students wear whatever the hell they feel like wearing. People usually wear shoes, though depending on the class, classroom, and professor, shoes do sometimes come off.... I don't think anyone's ever headed to class completely nude, though I wouldn't be surprised if it's happened in the past. I believe that the majority of Bryn Mawr students are from the Northeasters US. There is a decent population of International students as well. Financial backgrounds are not often discussed. I'd guess that middle-class students are most prevalent. There are definitely a few upper class students who make their class visible (through cars, clothing, accessories...) and known, however it's much less likely that you'll find lower and middle class students making their class "visible" to all. I come from a lower-middle class background and often found myself in uncomfortable situations not being able to afford trips to the mall or eating out, or getting team t-shirts.
It really is the people that make Bryn Mawr. For the most part, everyone is incredibly nice. People will literally go out of their way to help you, say, carry a box to your room or something. I also like that although we can pretty intense, everyone will totally wear sweatpants or pajamas to class. The social honor code means for the most part, people will respect each other's stuff and each other (although we are also known to be passive aggressive). One of the best things about Bryn Mawr is the Customs Program. Although dorms are all mixed (with all classes living together, which I really like), the freshman on a hall are grouped together with two Customs people, generally sophomores, who sort of guide them not just through the first week but through the whole year. I think of my Customs group as a family of sorts- like family some people will be your best friends and some people you won't necessarily get along with- but you are all kind of going through the same thing together. I love the community at Bryn Mawr, since everyone pretty much lives on campus all four years, I've made very close friends that I think my friends who attend other colleges or unis where the students live off campus missed out on.
Everyone says that Bryn Mawr is a "very diverse environment." I, however, find this to be not at all true. However, take this into account: I came from a high school that was so diverse that there virutally were not minorities. We were 30% white, 30% black, 30% hispanic and 10% Asian. So, understandably, Bryn Mawr isn't as diverse. We do have a lot of international students and we are very diverse as far as socio-economic class goes. On my hall we had people from the highest SES level to the lowest. I think that most Mawters are, statistically, from New York, New Jersey, Pennslyvania, Boston-area and then California. I feel that quite a few are from my area - Montgomery County MD. A lot of students are politically active, but I feel that the vast majority simply aren't, which is unfortunate. Some people simply didn't care about the primaries, didn't vote, didn't read the paper, couldn't even name two candidates. However, many many many people are involved in politics. Last year we had America Ferrara and Kate Walsh come and visit to talk about politics with us. (We're pretty left-ish).
For a school with such an emphasis on diversity, we are not all that diverse. There is a bit of latent racism that has reared its extremely ugly head in the last couple of years. The LGBT community is very vocal and active, but can be less than welcoming to those who do not consider themselves part of that community. I have heard that it is difficult to be religious on campus. Most of the students seem to be from the east coast of the US, though there are a large number who come from elsewhere. Also, most of the students seem to be from mid-to-upper middle class and wealthy backgrounds, which can be very strange for students from other backgrounds (My family is very mid-middle class, and the majority of my friends from my hometown are lower-middle class and working-class; it's weird to be with people who can afford to order-in food most nights of the week, for example).
The student body is beautifully diverse, a real mosaic in everything but gender. All colors, all beliefs, all socio-economic levels are welcome on campus. If you are not open minded, this is not your school. If you want to learn from others and thrive in a diverse environment, you can hardly do better than Bryn Mawr. Students are politically aware, many are politically active, and there is a definite leaning to the left. The students I interact with the most, as a political science major but also as an athlete, are far more interested in the contributing to the greater good than how many digits their salaries will be one day. Mawrters are incurable humanists. This doesn't mean they all wear hemp and Birkenstock's; those are there, but right alongside J. Crew blazers and Banana Republic jeans. It's diverse, it's all diverse.
Of course, Bryn Mawr is very LGBTQ-friendly. I would also say that we're fairly diverse in where we're from (throughout the US and international) and religion. Besides that, Bryn Mawr purports to be diverse in race and socio-economic status, but the truth is that we are a predominantly rich, white campus. Or, at least, one of the problems Bryn Mawr has been facing is that most students fall into groups of friends that are all of one race or one class, which is sad but true. We are also fairly liberal. At the same time, people who don't fit the mold should never feel out of place at Bryn Mawr. I consider us to be a very accepting and caring community. In fact, varied backgrounds makes Bryn Mawr what it is.
Students here are very diverse in ethnicity, region, and socio-economic class. However, they are mostly liberals. There are some extreme liberals. There are many different student types on campus, though I see a few more upper-class, North Eastern prep/boarding/day school students than I would like to. Some wealthier students do not seem to comprehend that many of their peers lacked the opportunities they had as children, nor do they understand that many students had to fight a lot harder to get accepted and remain here. But there is little intentional class snobbery here, and many of the most disadvantaged students are the among hardest workers and the most involved community members here.
There are several religious groups in the tri-co and bi-co and even on BMC campus. There are many special events for religious groups all year round. The school is now non-affiliated, but was originally Quaker (which is where our Honor Code originates). As far as clothing goes, there are many different styles prevalent on campus. Some people opt to attend classes in gym clothes or sweats, while others go full out in designer clothing and freshly applied make-up. There are all different levels and styles of dress. most students are predominantly democratic, which could possible uncomfortable for republicans.
LGBT are very accepted here on campus. Only hard-working and open-minded people belong at Bryn Mawr. There is a lot of class interaction - freshmen and upperclassmen are very friendly with each other. Upperclassmen really try hard to welcome the freshmen and to make them feel comfortable. There are many students here who are politically and socially aware, but there are also the few who aren't. However, what is most important is a willingness to learn from each other. We are predominantly leftists. Most Bryn Mawr students come from fairly well-off families.