On February 19, Dean Martha Denny announced via email that Briyana D. Clarel had been hired as Interim Coordinator for the Women*s Center. This news came more than a semester after the last coordinator left their role, leaving student workers bossless as the only dedicated Women*s Center employees. Clarel began their position on February 11.
Now that they have had a few weeks to settle into the job, I sat down with Clarel to learn about their background, visions for the Center, and impressions of Haverford so far.
Since graduating in 2013 from Princeton with a degree in Sociology and certificates in African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Urban Studies, Clarel worked at various education-related nonprofits before engaging in graduate coursework in education and theater, a passion of theirs since middle school. After moving to Philadelphia, Clarel says they were looking for jobs to bring together their varied interests and experiences. This search led them to Haverford’s posting for an interim leader in the Women*s Center.
Clarel’s position as Interim Coordinator currently means they will be on campus for 15 hours a week, which will be split between Mondays and Thursdays for the rest of the semester. They plan to dedicate 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Mondays as drop-in hours for students at their office located in the Women*s Center.
“The first thing I’ve been trying to do has been to understand how the Women*s Center is situated in the rest of the College, what has been happening in the past, and how we want to move the Center forward,” said Clarel. And with that comes managing the Center’s nine student staff members, who helped run the Center while it was coordinator-less last semester. “We’re kind of all figuring out what it looks like again [to have a coordinator] and where they need someone to step in and help coordinate.”
Emily Dombrovskaya, one of the Center’s student staff members, agrees. “There’s a lot of start-up work which needs to go into getting familiar with the weird Haverford institutional structure and evaluating top priorities” wrote Dombrovskaya by email. “One wonderful thing is that Briyana has been really dedicated to making the Center’s physical space more welcoming. We did some furniture rearranging, spring cleaning, and updated our coffee/tea nook!”
In addition, Clarel has begun taking over the projects that student leaders handled for the first half of the year, including the Center’s budget. They say that their priority is to handle the “logistical, bureaucratic side of things that students shouldn’t have to deal with, and can’t deal with, in a lot of ways.”
“Student workers are the driving force behind what’s been happening at the Women*s Center,” Clarel notes. “I’m excited that I get to work with them.”
Clarel’s long-term projects include collaborating with Rainbow Quorum, Haverford’s LGBTQ alumni group and Title IX officers at Haverford, as well as providing more training and resources for staff and faculty for supporting LGBTQ students.
While Dombrovskaya notes some changes in Clarel’s position from past coordinators, they are overall pleased with the direction the Center now has with Clarel in charge. “The responsibilities have definitely changed. [Former full-time coordinator] Qui often ended up working over 40 hours a week, and this new position is around 15 hours a week. The sort of day-to-day event support is largely student-driven. Dean Tensuan was incredibly supportive during our transitional period, but she’s also maybe the busiest person on campus, so [working at the Center prior to Clarel’s hiring] looked very different than [now] having a supervisor who’s helping us build relationships with The Health Center, deans, and outside organizations on a weekly basis,” Dombrovskaya wrote.
Clarel and the Women*s Center student staff will be hosting an open house on March 25 at 5:00PM for students to meet Clarel and enjoy the newly redecorated space. The Women*s Center’s hours can be found on the Center’s website.