While the administrators interviewed in last week’s article “SAIS BC, now SAIS Europe” make a compelling case as to why this name-change is beneficial, I believe it is not necessary. SAIS Bologna’s global reach and its role as an intellectual center are already conveyed by the SAIS brand. SAIS Washington doesn’t need to be renamed SAIS North America to show it is internationally focused. The name SAIS already does that.
“SAIS Europe” also connotes the image of a vast European metropolis, which Bologna certainly is not. Prospective students wanting to study in a major European center such as Brussels or London won’t be duped by the name change, and those that are probably shouldn’t attend SAIS.
Moreover, the name SAIS Bologna better represents the student experience and swapping the word “Bologna” for “Europe” glosses over factors that distinguish SAIS Bologna from SAIS Washington. Bologna is a small city without the distractions students find in Washington. Students there have the opportunity to throw themselves headfirst into their studies and to really become graduate students. That opportunity is lost once you arrive in Washington, where many students juggle full course loads with part-time or full-time internships.
Additionally, the atmosphere of the Bologna Center cultivates student cohesion that doesn’t seem to exist in DC. The Bologna student community rallied behind the men of SAIS during Movember and packed the auditorium for the SAIS ladies’ performance of The Vagina Monologues. This type of solidarity can only be fostered in a small community like Bologna.
SAIS Bologna is unique in that students there get the global perspective offered by a SAIS education with the close-knit student body that inevitably develops in the Bologna environment. Renaming the campus SAIS Europe distorts what it really means to be a student at the Bologna campus.
Brenna Allen, SAIS Europe ‘13, is a second-year M.A. Candidate at SAIS Washington.