We at the Phoenix applaud the college on the addition of a new event held during admissions season, Swatlight. The program is geared specifically towards low-income, minority, or first generation students who have been admitted to Swarthmore. While Swatstruck, the newest incarnation of Ride the Tide, serves as the primary post-admissions outreach event, Swatlight is more targeted. It is critical to recognize that first generation students, as well as those from underrepresented groups and low income backgrounds have a different first year experience. By acknowledging this, and then emphasizing the institutional support and resources that Swarthmore can offer to these students, the college is demonstrating its commitment to helping students navigate the challenges of a rigorous institution, irrespective of where they come from.
While Swarthmore already has programming for low-income and first generation students in the form of Discover Swarthmore in the fall, Swatlight is unique because it is the only program specifically for those students who are admitted to Swarthmore, and because of this fact it deserves recognition. Students who have been admitted to Swarthmore, but are discouraged from considering or attending due to reduced readiness as compared to their peers from higher income backgrounds, have the most to gain from a recruitment event that makes Swarthmore a real possibility.
Undoubtedly, Swatlight is a marketing tactic of some sorts, as the college is attempting to sell itself to these prospective students by highlighting the facets of the Swarthmore experience that facilitate an easier transition to college. However, we feel that Swarthmore is aiding these students in their college decision process by elucidating what specifically makes the Swarthmore experience accessible to students from all backgrounds and groups. Swarthmore’s focus on inclusion and diversity is well-aligned with this appeal to students, an appeal which is neither misleading nor inaccurate. As a member of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, a group intended to attract college applicants from low-income backgrounds, Swarthmore has consistently acted upon a desire to make higher education more attainable to students who may not otherwise have such an opportunity. We feel that this new event will simply showcase this positive attribute of the college, and hope that potential future Swatties feel supported and encouraged in not only their decision making process, but their four years at Swarthmore as well.