On Saturday April 21, a group of first generation students gathered on Magill Walk to let the rest of the campus celebrate their existence and have their voices heard. The event was a fashion show organized by AynNichelle Slappy ‘20 in honour of national first generation week. Slappy said she was surprised that Swarthmore wasn’t doing anything to commemorate this week, so she sought to change that. She spoke of the fact that most people simply didn’t know about first generation week being the reason behind the lack of events being planned on campus.
Slappy said that in the creation of the event, she thought of events and support structures that were empowering to her as a first generation student. She said that the event was meant to function as an act of solidarity on the behalf of first generation students.
“ [I wanted to] make a statement that ‘we’re here and we’re together’… and one of the most visible things that you can do is a fashion show.”
Slappy wanted to ensure that everyone who walked was able to submit a mini bio mentioning the things they are passionate about and proud of, stating that it was a way to let people know that first generation students are thriving on this campus.
National Gen Day is held on April 25 to celebrate first generation students and their accomplishments, as well as acknowledge the unique challenges they face. This year was the first annual Gen Day, and as a result not many people knew about its existence, Slappy hopes that this will change in coming years at Swarthmore. After all, the stories and voices of first generation students are important and deserve to be celebrated. Her plans for the future?
“I have a lot of ideas for next year – I would like to get more groups involved and actually create an entire week of programming for generation week.”
Hopefully next year we will be able to see these plans come to fruition, and first generation students can be given the voice they deserve.