Street: How did you get involved with MARS (Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault)?
Bobby Lundquist: Freshman year I did not want to do Greek life at all. And then there was open rush for fraternities, so I went and then kind of started liking the people that I was spending time with. Also, I was insecure about my masculinity, and I thought that being in an all–male space would help me relate to men better, and also I would figure out what type of man I wanted to be. The first mixer that we had was 'CEOs and office hoes' themed. I almost dropped. I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ I was thinking maybe we could try and change this community to think about what it does in a more critical sense. Part of pledging is you go to MARS presentations and they present to you about sexual violence and prevention by being an active bystander. I was sitting in the presentation, jaw dropped, like ‘This is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.’
Street: Tell me about Bread and Jamz.
BL: For Fisher Hassenfeld (Ed. note: He's an RA there), we do office hours where you host a study break essentially. So I wanted to go big on it. It’s this two–hour kickback gathering every week, and I make bread and play music. I worked in a back–country hostel summer after freshman year, and part of the job was baking bread for the guests. Baking bread for me is very cathartic. I wanted to bring my experience of that catharsis and nourishment to my residents and try and create space where it is a more inclusive community. One where anybody who walks through the door can come.
Street: What do you love most about Penn?
BL: The love that exists at Penn. The love that is present is really strong when you experience it. I think it’s profound and can change your perspective and how you see the world. Whether it’s love in the form of a professor just really inspiring you to think about something you thought was irrelevant when you walked into the class. Or maybe love is a Wilcaf barista handing you a large hot chocolate. I think what I love most about Penn is the love that exists in all of those moments.
Street: What do you love the least about Penn?
BL: I'm very frustrated at why some institutions reinforce certain behaviors at Penn and why communities reinforce certain norms too. One example is Greek life. As an RA, I see my freshmen move in and they’re super pumped to be here. The first night, they go out, and they experience having to get into a social space by objectifying themselves and becoming a number of the ratio. Night one, in order to have fun and be socially accepted, you already have to change the way that you think about yourself.
Street: Do you see a solution to that problem?
BL: My observations have led me to believe that in order to create more widespread culture change, we have to work on two fronts. One is working with the institutions that already exist and reinforce certain unhealthy or toxic behaviors. But on the other end is to try and create alternative spaces. And that’s what Bread and Jamz is about. Providing an alternative space for people to co–create the culture and the space that they want to interact in so that they don’t feel like they have to adapt themselves.
Street: What advice would you give to your freshman–year self?
BL: I wrote a whole letter on this. The letter is titled No Silver Bullets. That for me has meant—at least at this point looking back—over the past 3 ½ years, I built up a belief that if I found the right key, I could open the door and get into this place that would be happiness and success. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that that key doesn’t exist.
Street: What would be your dream job?
BL: One idea that I’ve had is opening up a bakery–café–community center in a town that would hopefully be close to mountains where I could go hike. It would be a small family–run business that would hopefully be something positive in the community. And have the 3 C’s covered, which would be caffeine, calories and community. I think I’d probably call it Bread and Jamz.
Street: If you were going to be famous for something, what would it be for?
BL: I would hope that it would be for how I treat other people. And also, importantly, how I treat myself. Because that’s hard, and I think it’s ignored. So a practice of compassion and self–compassion.
Street: If you were going to be infamous for something, what would it be for?
BL: My mom always makes fun of me for jumping into things and not thinking. One time, when she was away, there was a fork stuck in the garbage disposal. She had explicitly told me not to turn it on, but I did it anyway. And nothing happened. But I just zone out and do things without thinking. So maybe it would be for losing my hand in a garbage disposal.
Street: If you are what you eat, then what are you?
BL: A honey crisp apple. The whole apple. The core and the stem. I read an article about how we should eat the whole apple, and it was really passionate, and I haven’t turned back since.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
BL: The people breathing in and the people breathing out.
Street: Describe yourself in 3 words.
BL: Young sourdough starter. A sourdough starter is a wild yeast. But the process of making a starter is a long one. It develops flavor over time and builds up its power to produce this effect of causing the bread to rise towards its purpose. So right now, I feel like I’m a young sourdough starter. I’m trying to develop my essence and find my purpose by absorbing and taking in my surrounding environment.
Street: If you could have a drink with anyone in history, who would it be?
BL: Angela Davis. She wrote this really awesome book on blues and feminism.
Street: What’s one question I forgot to ask you?
BL: I thought you were going to ask something like, ‘What are you working on?’
Street: What are you working on?
BL: I’m working on being more authentic to myself and being vulnerable. I think it’s true that the only way to reach true emotional clarity is by being emotionally vulnerable. And I have a hard time being vulnerable. And I definitely do put up the Penn Face. I have a hard time practicing self–compassion. So what I’m working on is trying to become a better person in accordance with whatever ideals I hold and values I hold. That young sourdough starter thing. I’m trying to grow in the right way. Also being kind to myself and accepting myself along the way.