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Swarthmore sports fall break update

in Sports by

While most Swarthmore students were at home enjoying fall break and reconnecting with family and friends, many of the varsity sports teams stayed on campus to continue their seasons, or begin preparations for their upcoming year. While both soccer teams, field hockey, and volleyball continued Centennial Conference play, both the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams returned to campus early to prepare for their winter seasons. The ten-day break proved to be an eventful one on campus for many of these teams, filled with games, practices, preparations, and team bonding activities.

Last year the Men’s Basketball team boasted an unprecedented 23-6 record, which included a Centennial Conference championship and a bid to play in the NCAA Division III tournament. The team ended up winning their first game in the NCAA tournament, but narrowly lost to Christopher Newport University in the second round of the tournament by a score of 77-67. This was the first time in Swarthmore history that the men’s team reached the NCAA tournament, prompting huge fan turnout at both the conference games, as well as the NCAA tournament games. After graduating only three seniors and retaining three of five starters, the team looks to build on last year’s success. Over fall break, the team participated in a workout and team building regiment called “The Program” that incorporated the new first-years. The Garnet are lead by Swarthmore men’s basketball’s first All-American, Cam Wiley ’19, along with stars Zack Yonda ’18 and Robbie Walsh ’18. The men’s team opens their season up on Nov. 15 with a home game against Hood College.

The Women’s Basketball team looks to bounce back this year after experiencing a disappointing season last winter. The team returned to campus on Thursday to begin their new season, with three first-years joining 11 returning players. Head coach Renee DeVarney returns for her 13th season, and she will be joined by new assistant coach Brianne Camden. They have their season opener at home against Widener College on Nov. 15.

The Women’s Soccer team has been having an extremely memorable season as they improved their record to 12-3 over the fall break. The Garnet lost their first game to Johns Hopkins but quickly turned it around and won their two following games against Bryn Mawr and Gettysburg.  Marin McCoy ’19 led the team with two goals in the win against Bryn Mawr. The Garnet are now ranked 20th in all of Division III and look to continue their stellar play as they face off against Haverford this Saturday.

The Men’s Soccer team played four matches over the fall break period, losing three and drawing one. The team holds a record of 4-9-3 so far, which is similar to last year’s record of 7-10-1. The team played their senior match against Gettysburg College, honoring four seniors: Omadayo Origunwa, Michael Nafziger, Tommy Sheehan, and Ryan Ward. While the Garnet will miss out on playoff action yet again, the team hopes to build next year with a strong nucleus of underclassmen. The team will finish up their regular season this Saturday at Haverford in a rivalry match.

The Field Hockey team, with a record of 7-9, look to end their season on a positive note in their final two games. Fall break marked a rough stretch of the season for the Garnet, as they are on a three-game losing streak. Last week, the team had their Senior Day, honoring Ellory Laning, Clare Perez, Amy Gilligan, Jane Blicher, Nicole Phalen, and Sierra Spencer. They will finish their season against Centennial Conference rival Haverford on Saturday.

The volleyball team continues to be a highlight of the Swarthmore athletics program, as they have a record of 18-6 so far, with a 7-2 Centennial Conference record. The team narrowly lost last year in the Centennial Conference final to Johns Hopkins, and are looking to try and avenge that loss in the playoffs this year. Over fall break, the Garnet won three out of their four games, losing narrowly to Johns Hopkins in five sets. Sarah Girard 19, Emma Morgan-Bennett 20, and Mehra den Braven 20 continue to be standouts for the team, and have so far been leaders on the floor. The team finishes their regular season against Haverford on Saturday, as they look to close out the season in style and ready themselves for the Centennial Conference playoffs.

Sometimes, Swatties could use a little SpongeBob

in Columns/Op-Eds/Opinions by

I’ll admit that Swat and SpongeBob, although alliterative, are not at all synonymous. Though maybe, in some ways, they should be.

We are six weeks into the semester, and an aggregate of stress can be found formulating in the basement of Cornell Library. Sleep-deprived Swatties dragging their feet to 8 a.m. classes and running on three hours of sleep frequent the pathways between Kohlberg and Sci, and mumblings of various assignments fly across the long wooden tables at Sharples.

It doesn’t help that we are well into midterms season with tests, papers, and presentations flying at us faster than that yellow sponge on the screen spits out nonsensical phrases while flipping Krabby Patties.

I got here last year, and honestly didn’t know what to expect. When classes started, I worked a little too hard for a pass-fail freshman, trying to balance soccer, school, and the whirlwind that is living on your own for the first time. On the bus ride back from one of our first away games, in true student-athlete fashion, my teammates and I pulled out our backpacks, turned on our phone flashlights, and prepared to power through a few hours of homework.  Five minutes into the ride, someone put SpongeBob on the TV; the reading ground to a halt. As the textbooks and laptops closed, laughter ensued.  

We watched more episodes than I can count on that bus ride, the blaring noises characteristic of  Nickelodeon shows mingling with the suppressed giggles of the team. Did I get any reading done? No. Was it a productive experience? Absolutely.

Productivity, defined by Swatties and economists, is measured by the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. But there is another critical factor that should be included into this equation. Work can be fun — in fact, Swatties can often find the joy in intellectualism — but the mind-numbing ignorance that is SpongeBob makes you smile in a purely uncomplicated fashion. That feeling is often underestimated and far more powerful than most people believe.

In high school, I would plan my time largely around school and soccer; I don’t think I ever considered adding an hour of pure relaxation — in any form — to my schedule.  Ironically, it took coming to college for me to learn the importance of making time to “chill out.”

Coming into Swat, I had seen a few episodes of SpongeBob and had basically branded it as a ridiculous show that probably lowered the IQ of the watcher. When a girl on our team pulled out a DVD of SpongeBob on the bus ride, I was a little confused.  

Did intellectual, highbrow Swatties engage in such childish, rudimentary forms of entertainment? I quickly learned that some of the best ones do.  

Honestly, the world and Swat could use a little more SpongeBob.  Not all the time — ignoring that which is real and critically important is not something for which I would ever advocate. That said, taking a break, when possible, is absolutely necessary.

It doesn’t have to be SpongeBob.  If pineapples under the sea don’t do it for you, then listen to music, go for a walk or a jog or a run in the Crum. Do something with your time that isn’t related to academics, some extracurricular activity you joined, or an internship you are trying to get — something that stimulates zero percent of your brain and possesses no intellectual value.

Personally, I like SpongeBob because sometimes it’s nice to spend a few minutes looking at something so ridiculously laughable you cannot help but grin and giggle.

I’m not sure if anyone actually reads this column, but if you do, please use it as a reminder to take care of yourself. No matter how much is on your plate, you deserve to treat yourself, to engage with something that leaves you unequivocally happy.

The best time to share a striped sweater is all the time. Random? For sure. Pointless? Not at all.


10 days of fall break: we planned it so you don’t have to

in Campus Journal by

For those of you staying on campus this fall break, 10 days of unstructured, minimal-obligation free time can come as a daunting realization. Sure, you can sleep in or watch trashy reality shows, or a fun combination of the both; but believe it or not, there’s actually a lot to do. By a lot to do, I mean I scoured Facebook for free-to-low-cost events and found at least one per day in or around Swarthmore. By “in or around Swarthmore,” I mean Philadelphia. Here’s what your week is looking like:


Day 1: Thursday, Oct. 12.

“Chinatown Night Market Yè Shì”

Suprise! You thought this calendar would start on Friday, but Thursday is the new Friday when you make the beautiful decision to take classes only four days a week (sorry underclassmen). To kick off your break, catch that off-peak SEPTA to Jefferson Station around 7 p.m. and head to 10th Street between Arch and Vine. The host, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, promises “an endless amount of food, arts & crafts, and entertainment that will keep guests going all night.”


Day 2: Friday, Oct. 13.

“Made in Philadelphia Fall Market”

Embrace the season in Center City with friends at this all-day Dilworth Park event. Local crafters will be selling “art, photos, accessories and jewelry, skincare, glassware, wood craft and more.” Treat yourself to some artisanal woodcraft! You worked hard this first half-semester!


Day 3: Saturday, Oct. 14.

“Hill Creek Farm Pumpkin Festival”

Okay, now really embrace the season and befriend a person with a car to take a 30-minute ride to New Jersey. Before you skip reading about this day because no one ever reasonably wants to go to New Jersey, take note that it takes place on a farm. You’ll feel like you never left Pennsylvania. This festival will likely be full of small suburban children and parents cooing at them to look at the camera, but where else can you find a pick-your-own apples, a giant Batman bounce house, hot fresh foods, live music, face painting, choose-your-favorite-pumpkin, pumpkin games (?), fresh goodies from the bakery, tractor rides, a playground, barrel train rides, free Whacky Duck racing, and gemstone mining?


Day 4: Sunday, Oct. 15.

“From Mali to America.”

A $15 student ticket won’t get you from America to Mali but it will get you “From Mali to America;” a new dance, drumming, hip-hop, spoken word show presented by Kulu Melew. This one-time-only show takes place at the beautiful Kurtz Center for Performing Arts, and will likely inspire you to update your Spotify playlist with beats beyond Mike WiLL Made-IT.


Day 5: Monday, Oct. 16.

“Indian Food Festival”

Plug into your favorite podcast and jump on NJ Transit to finally take that New York day trip you’ve been planning since orientation. Apparently, this event will make you interact with Times Square and all of its inhabitants which is never advisable — but, for this day only, there will Indian food. Like a ton of Indian food. Its description is nothing short of poetic: “Let your nose guide you through layers of spices while savoring wonderful dishes; surround yourself with incredible colors, lose yourself in music and enjoy the spectacular dances.” There will be over 50 local vendors and restaurants, accompanied by live music and dance. Sorry kiddos, this one is 21+.


Day 6: Tuesday, Oct. 17.

“Muhammad Yunus | A World of Three Zeros”

Thought you were headed back to Swarthmore? Wrong. Buy that greyhound or megabus ticket ASAP and make your way to our nation’s capital to dismantle capitalism. Or, at least, to hear Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus talk about dismantling capitalism. Yunus will present his new book and propose a call-to-action at my favorite bookstore, Politics & Prose. The talk starts at 7 p.m. and is free.99 but seats will be on a first come, first served basis.


Day 7: Wednesday, Oct. 18.

“Kali Uchis at World Cafe Live Philadelphia”

And we’re back — Philly nightlife is a thing. Enjoy it with Colombian-American indie pop soulstress Kali Uchis, and have the chorus to “Tyrant” stuck in your head for the remainder of break.


Day 8: Thursday, Oct. 19.

“Gabrielle Union at the Philadelphia Free Library — We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, & True”

The event title says all there is to convince you to attend. Oh, plus it’s free. See you there.


Day 9: Friday, Oct. 20.

“Howl-O-Ween at the Ellicott City Historic District”

It’s the 20th of Halloween, and there will be a literal parade of dogs dressed up in silly costumes for the occasion. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. hang out with puppies that don’t belong to you and participate in donation-based events that will support the Houston SPCA’s hurricane efforts. One catch — it’s in New Jersey. Am I telling you to go to New Jersey to watch a halloween dog parade? Quite possibly.


Day 10: Saturday, Oct. 21.

“Harry Potter Festival”

The entire community of Chestnut Hill is transforming into the wizarding world of Harry Potter for a weekend. We’re talking literary events, Quidditch matches, and spellcasting tutorials. This annual celebration is always a fan favorite; head over to visitphilly.com for a much more robust Hogwartsian itinerary.


BONUS! Day 11: Sunday, Oct. 22.

Do all the work that you told yourself you’d finish by the first weekend of break.


Falling Out of Break

in Around Campus/Campus Journal by

Whether its waiting for class to begin, scooping ice cream in Sharples, or standing in the dorm bathroom with a toothbrush in your mouth, questions about fall break have been the go-to conversation starters for the past two weeks: what did you do? How was it?

For the sake of small talk (or a full two-minute tooth brushing), one may opt to leave it at “good” or “fine, thanks,” but it’s unsurprising that Swatties, with their various hometowns, hobbies, aspirations, and experiences can also provide a variety of responses.

When I asked the small sample of people around me what they did over fall break, many of them said that they returned home. Ashley Le ’19 celebrated her sister’s birthday by taking her family out to dinner. Gillie Tillson ’20 played pickleball, a game somehow involving a combination of ping-pong, tennis, and wiffle ball, with her extended family and friends. Other students visited friends at colleges and universities in states such as Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina. Many also remained on campus, where they enjoyed the leaves changing color, worked on senior projects, and competed in fall sports.

Multiple students mentioned indulging in the basic human activities of eating and sleeping. Le’s statement that she spent most of her fall break laying in bed received the most enthusiastic assent from others in the room. Several students lapsed into rhapsodic recollections of the quality or quantity of foods they consumed during break. Examples include a meal at a Mexican restaurant, the best ramen ever tasted, and Shake Shack, which John Fan ’19 emphasized as “really important” to him and his fall break experience.

Beyond rest, relaxation, and eating, students used fall break to study for the MCAT, go to dentist appointments, and recover from being sick at (or sick of) Swarthmore. Eleanor Naiman ’20 took advantage of break by returning to her home in Berkeley, California, where her father nervously taught her how to drive. Many students also mentioned papers, midterms, and other assignments and readings that were due during or after break. Some academic responsibilities were incredibly time consuming, while others were totally neglected.

Was fall break a vacation from, a continuation of, or the eye in the middle of Swarthmore’s academic hurricane?  The circumstances differed for everyone. Even so, when asked about how satisfied they felt with their breaks, almost every student wished that it had been longer.

“The transition from fall break to working again was pretty tough,” said Fan.

Indeed, whether one did absolutely nothing over break or everything possible, each student is now back and busier than ever attending class and practice and eating those convenient Sharples rice cakes with Wow Butter. Your own fall break memories may have been average, legendary, or mostly dreams from the seventeen hours you slept each day; either way, welcome back to Swarthmore! It’s almost November, and Thanksgiving break is emerging on the horizon.

On going home and coming back

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

From the moment I first visited campus during my junior year of high school, Swarthmore felt like home. Standing on Magill Walk, I felt an inexplicable wave of comfort and familiarity. I still do. During the stress of moving in and saying good-bye to my family, I was comforted by the fact that my room number is the same as my state’s area code, 302.

Living at Swarthmore has muddled the lines of what “home” really means. I feel at home in my dorm, in McCabe, and in all the buildings in between, yet I still went home for break.

Everything seemed to be just the way I left it, and my home life picked up right where it left off. Yet, things felt different. The music on the radio when I drove was different, and I walked out of my house without car keys — a mistake I only made when I first started driving — more than once. My high school, which saw both the best and worst moments in my life, no longer belonged to me, but was more than welcoming when I came back. My teachers lit up when they saw me, my principal hugged me and asked if high school had prepared me for Swarthmore, and I felt almost unnatural talking to my high school friends. I realized that making a home for myself in college meant leaving behind part of what makes my hometown “home”, and part of the person I was when I lived there year-round.

I realized that the person I am in college is vastly different than the person I was before Swarthmore. I have polished some of the rough spots of myself along the way. I’ve left behind some of the stress of navigating social life with my peers and picked up a sense of camaraderie around the college’s academic pressure. Here, I am not the best at everything I do, and that fact has forced me to work harder and be better. I have had to take stock of the ways in which I have changed and grown. I’ll never outgrow my hometown, but I am fundamentally different from when I left. I’ve become an adult here, and sleeping in my childhood bedroom didn’t change that. When I was home, however, I found myself doing the same things I always did growing up. I did the same chores, went to the same pumpkin patch, and ate the same foods, knowing that I was now doing these things as a grown-up. I found myself in somewhat of a surreal paradox between being home, and being away from my home.

The shift in what home felt like lies not only in myself but also in the differences between Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and Dover, Delaware. Going home meant readjusting to the way the world works in my home and my hometown. Not only was I responsible for my usual chores and odd jobs, but I now had to deal with a far less homogenous political spectrum. I played in a wiffle-ball tournament to raise money for several charities at my high school the last Saturday of break, and I was shocked to see a team of high school seniors wearing matching Trump shirts. I asked myself how they could dare to openly support a candidate that has publicly mocked people with disabilities. Worse still, they wore them at a fundraiser that benefited organizations, including Special Olympics, that was in honor of a friend of mine with disabilities who passed away over the summer. I realized that I’ve been spoiled by being surrounded by peers who view the world similarly to me, but the world outside of Swarthmore is different. On campus, Donald Trump is disliked by liberals and conservatives alike, but at home, the local people believe in his agenda. The stark divide between college life and the so-called “real world” has manifested itself to me in the political sphere.

The cultural differences between my hometown and my new college home are stark. At Swarthmore, I sometimes desire more diverse opinions, and at home, I miss the liberal haven of our progressive institution. Navigating my hometown after taking on a new home means I was somewhat of a guest. Seeing the world I grew up in through a different lens meant seeing myself through a different lens. The realization that my sense of self changes depending on which home I am in caused me to reflect on who I truly wanted to be. I thought about my values and the things I took for granted, both at home and school. I sometimes took my parent’s love for granted, and coming home from school after nearly two months away made me realize how amazing it is to have people who love me unconditionally. At school, I take my independence for granted, and going home, I realized how much power over myself I have at Swarthmore. Going home and coming back showed me the best of both worlds, as well as the things I find uncomfortable about both places. I may never be simply a Delawarean again, but Delaware will always be a part of me.

Fall break offers commitments, new opportunities for students

in News by

Fall Break, the annual break approximately halfway through fall semester, begins this Friday, Oct. 7. Although the break is a much welcomed repose for many students to visit their friends and families at home, athletes often have commitments during this time. Boys’ soccer, a fall sport, has practice every day during the break, as well as two games.

When he isn’t practicing for soccer, Daniel Lee ’20 plans to take advantage of down time at Swarthmore without classes.

“A couple of my friends and I are planning on going to Philly since we’ll have a bunch of time to kill … it’ll be nice to finally be able to go to Philly because we’ve been busy on weekends because of games,” Lee said.

However, fall sports are not the only commitments students have  during the break. Girls’ basketball, a winter sport, has their first official practice on Sunday, Oct. 16. However, they come back from break early in order to get to know each other better as a team.

“We come back on Friday for a team retreat where we workout, cook meals as a team, and have the chance to share some personal stuff about ourselves,” said Raina Williams ’18. “It’s a great bonding experience.”

Friday, Oct. 14 is also an eventful time for Peaslee Debate Club, which will be attending a Pro-Am tournament at American University. Six teams will be competing at the tournament, with each team consisting of one novice debater and one varsity debater.

“It’s cool, just because novice debaters have the ability to team with someone who’s more experienced, so we’re definitely going to learn a lot from the tournament,” said Cassandra Stone ’20.

The Outsider’s Club is also taking advantage of the week-long break to introduce new club members to what the club does. The club plans to go on a backpacking trip to the Allegheny Front Trail in the Black Moshannon State Park in Philipsburg, PA.

“This particular trail is especially nice because it is not terribly rugged, which means that … [it]  is suitable for backpackers of any experience level, and this particular place was the best fit for us,” Elias Blinkoff ’17, president of Outsiders club, said.

Blinkoff believes taking a trip during fall break is beneficial for both new and seasoned backpackers.

“The more experienced backpackers have an opportunity to teach skills to the more novice backpackers that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to teach here on campus. There are all of these valuable skills about being comfortable and surviving in the woods that really can only be taught on trail,” Blinkoff said. “Usually, it’s a nice experience for both the new backpackers and the more experienced folks, just to have that communication around context that wouldn’t necessarily crop up in a different environment.”

While many are spending their breaks focusing on the world outside campus, Henry Han ’20 and Natasha Markov-Riss ’20 have a plan to be implemented at Swarthmore. The two are working on starting a late-night, on campus food service called “Late Nite,” which will serve dumplings delivered to dorms on campus.

“[We] see a niche that we think could be filled the late night food niche and we’re trying to tackle that from two angles. One, we want to provide a really convenient food source, and two, we want to make it available at times when other food sources aren’t,” Markov-Riss said.

During fall break, the two are working on building the groundwork for their business. “We’re going to be building an app that will allow people to order those dumplings at the click of a button, we’re going to be researching insurance options, and we’re also going to perfect our dumpling recipe and do some trial cook ups,” Markov-Riss said.

“Late Nite” will serve its dumplings in red solo cups, and in keeping with its late night party theme, plans to donate 10 percent of profits to the NuWave social organization.

“We’re very excited about it; we’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from the community,” Markov-Riss said. “We’ll be ready to launch when we come back from fall break!”

Fall break will last for 10 days, with classes resuming on Monday, Oct. 17.


Fall break does not actually give students a break

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

It is difficult to argue the fact that Swarthmore is an academically rigorous institution. We pride ourselves on this rigor in admissions pamphlets, in the mouths of our tour guides, and in the furious matches of misery poker played late at night in Essie Mae’s. Strategically placed at the halfway point of the semester, many students look forward to fall break as a blessed respite from the endless barrage of academic and extracurricular work that comes their way. However, it appears that faculty members are, in increasing number and volume, increasingly assigning work due during break. While there is no official college policy prohibiting faculty from making students turn in work over break, we at the Phoenix believe that this practice is detrimental to the mental health of the student body and contradicts the very idea of having such a break in the first place.

For many Swarthmore students, the absence of class time during fall break is immediately replaced by a host of other obligations. The varsity women’s volleyball team is required to stay on-campus during break, and their days are filled up with extra practice time. Other coaches have historically scheduled the farthest away games of the season over fall break, in order to minimize the academic cost of requiring students to travel long hours. Even students who are not varsity athletes find their fall breaks vanishing right before their eyes. Some express a desire to catch up on the readings they failed to find time for, or to start on the homework that has been assigned for the week directly following the break. This culturally reinforced notion that fall break is a time to play catch-up, rather than an actual break from the demands of  life at Swarthmore, does nothing but add to the large amounts of stress students face by this point in the semester, and we at the Phoenix believe that the Dean’s Office and the faculty should work against these common expectations and promote fall break as an opportunity for students to improve their overall well-ness.

Even more egregious than the general campus culture regarding fall break, the Phoenix believes that faculty members who choose to assign work due over fall break are actively working against students’ wellness. This increase in assignments due over the break is related to the rise of Moodle as an electronic submission platform for papers, problem sets, and other assessments. It is simply unfair for certain faculty members to take an “If we can, we will” approach in the context of assigning due dates for major projects. This is not to say that fall break is a time where students should not be doing any academically-related work at all, but that the increasing number of students whose workload doubles or triples over the break is unethical and is a practice that needs to be reevaluated.

In light of the extremely stress-inducing events that transpired in the week before fall break this year, it is disappointing to see that Swarthmore students have become busier than ever during a time that is designed to be a brief respite from the rigorous academic and extracurricular workloads that abound. We at the Phoenix believe that the Dean’s Office and faculty members have an obligation to preserve this weeklong period as a time to alleviate stress, not compound it, and something must be done to reverse the trend seen in recent years.


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