25th Reunion, class of 1991

25th Reunion, class of 1991

The Brown University class of 1991 completed their senior year during changing times. Internationally, East and West Germany were officially unified and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stepped down. Nationally, the United States braced for war in the Persian Gulf which was realized in January 1991. Locally, the Rhode Island government shut down to shrink the state’s budget deficit. On the Brown campus, students demanded that a Dean of Women’s Concerns be hired to appropriately and effectively address the issue of rape and sexual harassment on campus.

This interview with members of the Brown University class of 1991 captures the undergraduate experiences of Sharon Louise Besser, Christina Anne Valeo, Pamela Bass, Prudence Carter and Triane Chang, at their 25th reunion.

The interviewees begin by introducing themselves, sharing their majors, and briefly describing what attracted them to Brown. They laud the university’s focus on undergraduate experiences and education and share some of their most influential professors including Martha Joukowsky, Anani Dzidzienyo, and Arlene Gorton.

Despite positive experiences with their professors, the group goes on to discuss academic challanges they experienced and the benefits and downfalls of the "open curriculum" -- a course of study that does not include core requirements. Additionally, the interviewees explain how extracurricular activities such as the Crew team, Women’s Peer Counselor Program, Minority Peer Counseling Program, and Third World Transition Program, helped them to develop strong leadership skills.

The interviewees vaguely remember various protests that occurred during their time at Brown but vividly recall a “Take Back the Night” rally protesting rape and sexual harassment on campus. As a result of that rally, they explain the lists of accused rapists that began to appear on the stalls of women’s bathrooms across campus. 

The interview concludes with a conversation about technology. The group feels that not having social media and modern technology available to them while they were students actually strengthened their interpersonal experiences on campus. This conversation then leads to a more serious consideration of the current state of liberal arts education.  

Recorded on May 28, 2016

Pembroke Hall, Brown University

Interviewed by Whitney Pape