Swarthmore's independent campus newspaper since 1881

Tag archive


Freshmen: how this year did and/or didn’t live up to expectations

in Campus Journal by

It’s only everything we’d been waiting for what felt like our entire lives — the big change, the first taste of true freedom most of us would be able to experience, away from parents and strict expectations and left (mostly) to our devices. Most of us had been planning for it, hoping for something better, something that was worth waiting and struggling all that time for, and now we’re here, wrapping up our first year of this great adventure we’d been waiting on for so long.

Sometimes it feels like move in day was just yesterday — I can clearly recall the hoards of students excited to help us move in and the chaos that ensued. I won’t soon forget the tears on my parents face as they left me behind on this strange new campus, and who can ever forget orientation (I mean, at least the fact it happened)? Yet here we are, wrapping up our first official year at Swat, and there’s so much to look back on and reflect on it’s pretty overwhelming, especially with finals lurking around the corner. But it seems almost impossible to avoid reminiscing as we watch the flowers bloom and the campus start to resemble what it looked like that first move in day.

Obviously, I can’t pretend to know what all of you wanted or were expecting from this experience. If you were expecting a ton of fun and little work or a ton of work and a little fun, or if you had any clue Sharples would have this many questionable meals. Perhaps you were hoping for your first real, serious romantic relationship, or perhaps you were just looking to hook up. Maybe you believed you’d find your perfect friends, or maybe you just came in trying to find yourself. Whatever you were hoping, I think we can agree upon the fact that we were able to be in this together, and some experiences fell short while some surpassed all imagination.

So perhaps Sharples managed to fall short of our hopes, pasta bar twice a week being a little much. And maybe the whole romantic scene on campus wasn’t what we were expecting, the small campus causing things to blow up and spread much faster than imaginable. And you know what, maybe you didn’t find your niche yet, maybe you’re still looking for the right friends because those you made during orientation turned out to be very different from whom you’d thought they were.

Perhaps freshman year ended up being a little more work and a little less fun than you imagined it would be, but you made it this far. Pass/Fail may have been more stressful than previously believed, yet now without it everything feels twenty times harder. And most likely, this year went by faster than any other year in your life but was filled with more experiences and feelings and relationships than any other as well. But 2020, this is not all we’ve experienced.

Along the way, we’ve found something within ourselves that’s convinced us we are strong enough and smart enough to be here, to push through the all nighters and crazy papers. We’ve discovered a strength within ourselves that we never knew was there, one that has let us believe in ourselves a little more. Maybe we haven’t quite found ourselves, but we’ve grown in ways we would’ve never hoped for, found ourselves in places we would’ve never pictured ourselves in and given ourselves some room to grow and be a little better than we were yesterday.

I recall my senior quote was, “Perhaps we’ll find what we’re looking for, or maybe, we’ll find something much greater than that.” I can’t say I’ve found what I’ve been looking for yet, but I can say that the journey has been much greater than I could’ve ever asked for. Even though the pain and complaints are still there and some days it may feel like all the struggles we’ve been going through aren’t really worth it, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So thank you for a great first round 2020, and here’s to the next three.

Ride the tide changes name to Swatstruck 2017

in Around Campus/News by

The college’s annual admitted students event, formerly known as Ride the Tide, has changed its name to “Swatstruck”. The new name accompanies several minor changes to the event’s programming.

According to the college website, the name Ride the Tide was a reference to Swarthmore’s football team, which was known as the Garnet Tide until the team was disbanded in 2000. The change in name comes as fewer and fewer students understand the reference to the now defunct varsity sport.
“… [Swatstruck] is a much better name, given that I’m not sure what the ‘tide’ is referencing,” said Jimmy Shah ’18.

According to Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock ‘90, the Office of Admissions believes that it is important to periodically refresh the programming and along with it, the title. Ride the Tide had been the name of the event for at least the past 12 years.

“With the introduction of a new suite of admissions materials and publications this year, we felt the time was right,” Bock said.

The idea for the name “Swatstruck” came from the Office of Admissions’ student-run blog, which was created in the summer of 2014 by Sedinam Worlanyo ’17, Isabel Knight ’16, Mosea Harris ’17, Elliot Nguyen ’17, Tess Wei ’17, and June Lee ’17. Bock said that the decision was made because the name flowed well with their program. To avoid confusion with the event formerly known as Ride the Tide, the blog will be renamed this summer.

As the primary organizers of the prospective student event, Ruby Bhattacharya ’11 and Windsor Jordan ’07 are working closely with the Office of Student Engagement, the Intercultural Center, the Black Cultural Center, and other departments on campus to ensure the event programming reflects as many aspects of the Swarthmore community and life on campus as possible. Bock said Swatstruck will be open to all admitted students and take place Thursday, April 21 through Friday, April 22. Many of the activities during the event will be similar to those seen in past years at Ride the Tide.

In addition to standard Swatstruck programming, 2016 will inaugurate the new Swatlight program, which Bock explained as a pre-Swatstruck, invitation-only program geared towards students who identify as low income, first generation in their family to attend college, or who are working with college access organizations such as A Better Chance, Bright Prospect, and QuestBridge.

“The Swatlight name honors our Quaker heritage, as we think about the Quaker concept of Inner Light and the candles that we light at First Collection, which celebrate all of the unique perspectives and experiences that each individual student brings to our community,” Bock explained.

Some students appreciated how the efforts of the new Swatlight program could foster a more welcoming environment for students from communities historically underrepresented at the college.

“There is a noticeable difference, or gap I guess, between students who are either first-gen or low-income [and those that are not],” said Julia Barbano ’19. “Anything that can be done to combat that or at least try to make the student body feel more ‘together’ would be a step in the right direction.”

However, Barbano did not see a point in changing the event’s name.

Bock encourages current students to get involved with Swatstruck this year by volunteering to host prospective students, getting student organizations involved in the programming, and showing the unique culture of our community.

First years begin to make friends and make out

in Campus Journal by

From finding condoms in our orientation packets to finding new friends in our halls, orientation was a week not soon forgotten. Orientation had time to socialize but also incorporated workshops focusing on drugs and alcohol, identity and inclusion, healthy relationships and consent. The general format of the workshops consisted of an hour and a half to two hour talk from a faculty member followed by an hour long breakaway session with smaller groups to discuss the subject presented and how it pertained to us as individual members of the incoming first year class, and as new members of the Swarthmore community. After getting a warm welcome from our RA’s, deans, and advisors, we received an equally warm welcome —  in the form of the Wharton courtyard party and Disorientation.

The tools that we received during orientation were put into practice less than a week later when the party scene went into full swing. Disorientation, hosted by Phi Psi, is traditionally the first official party of the year. This year there was a bit of a change that took many by surprise; a large party was thrown in Wharton courtyard less than 24 hours before Disorientation. Some people prefered the atmosphere of the courtyard party, and the fact that it was outside rather than inside the frat house that Disorientation is held in.

“Court night was better than disorientation, I enjoyed how it was outside and felt more social,” Elizabeth Balch Crystal ‘19 remarked.

The question that I wanted to answer was whether orientation and the workshops it included impacted how first years interacted with one another and with upperclassmen during their first parties at Swarthmore.

Those I interviewed had very mixed opinions when it came to this topic, many students thought that the workshops were well-intentioned but may not have held the full attention of the incoming class. Killian McGinnis ‘19 found there to be a lot to take in during her first week on campus, which diluted the importance of each talk and made valuable takeaways less likely.

“The workshops were very appropriate and applicable but there were quite a few,” McGinnis commented.

Another opinion shared by Ganeesh Setty ‘19 was that the messages about consent and healthy living weren’t very unique to our campus, which made many of the drawn out presentations quite unengaging despite attempts to involve the students through polls and student generated responses.

“I’d say that the discussions were interesting in terms of getting to know my class and hearing different views, though I feel like most of my class already knew the basics of the talks,” said Setty. “Overall, I think the workshops are a necessary and constructive part of orientation, despite being boring at times.”

Though not everyone found the talks particularly riveting, many still found them to be quite informative and necessary as a majority of students have just moved into a new environment with fewer restrictions in terms of substance use and parental control.

“The online course, the workshops, and orientation had made it clear that the school felt strongly about trying to create a safe environment on campus. However, by the time dry week had ended I still didn’t know what to expect from the typical ‘College experience’” explained Pavan Kalidindi ‘19. “Once the parties started I realized that, though the workshops and talks we had didn’t completely discourage people from consuming alcohol and drugs or hooking, it did succeed in one aspect—  lines were clear. We knew what to expect at Swarthmore.”

Kalidindi elaborated, explaining that our diverse backgrounds inevitably lead to a wide range of varying social norms that students bring from their home communities to Swarthmore.

“From our diverse backgrounds we might have had dissimilar norms, expectations and boundaries relating [to] these activities. What might have been okay to some of us may not have been for the rest,” Kalidindi said. “The sense of boundaries we have may be different and Swarthmore succeeded in helping us understand them better and what is socially acceptable and not.”

Taylor Morgan ‘19 agreed that the workshops were very necessary but could have been delivered in a manner that would have made students more receptive to the information.

“Overdoing a consent education could become dangerous; if a room full of exhausted first-years roll their eyes at the excessiveness of Swat’s ‘consent’ speeches, when the time comes, how can we expect them to take this topic seriously? A more effective plan for the next incoming class would be to simply show the “Tea Video”,” said Morgan.

Truthfully no one will forget the Tea Video, which explained consent using tea as a metaphor for sex and exploring multiple scenarios in which you would obviously not try to force someone to drink tea, and should therefore not try to have sex with them in the same scenario. While first-year students will not forget the tea video, can the same be said for the other activities and talks that were facilitated during orientation? For the students I spoke with, the general consensus was that orientation was filled with very good information but was long winded, which inhibited freshmen’s take away from the workshops. While this seems worrisome especially when talking about such important topics as consent, Balch-Crystal mentioned the importance of upperclassmen and their role in upholding our community expectations. “The upperclassmen put an emphasis on always doing the right thing and constantly reiterate the importance of consent,” Balch-Crystal said.

Overall orientation did a good job of introducing and preparing incoming students for social life at Swarthmore. Orientation succeeds in addressing topics that are hard to talk about in a safe environment that allows students to get acquainted with their fellow classmates and the expectations that we’ll have while we live at Swarthmore. While it is worrisome that for one reason or another the talks did not captivate the attention of the entire freshman class, it is consoling to hear that upperclassmen are reinforcing the message delivered during orientation week as we move forward through the year as a community.

On the menu: fresh aesthetic for all

in To Serve/Uncategorized by

Hey, this is To Serve. Maybe you’re confused, because until this article, I wrote a column called Hi! Fashion (R.I.P.). Fashion is endlessly interesting to me, and so it took me three semesters of writing a column every other week to call Hi! Fashion quits – and it’s not even totally goodbye to fashion, either. To Serve is is just a meditation on style writ a little larger.

I’ve always thought of fashion as one of the pieces of the story we tell about ourselves, but also to ourselves. It’s fun to play with fashion because it lets us alter that story in ways that can be both superficial and deeply transformative. But the story we cultivate when we put on a tank top is intrinsically connected to the story we tell when we hang little hooks around our room and display our hand-beaded necklaces next to our Klimt posters; or when we arrange semi-circles of banana around the edge of our bowl of oatmeal and sprinkle raisins only in the middle. “Style,” in this column, will mean the aesthetic choices we make, sometimes in fashion, sometimes in arrangements of time or space or food.

That’s a long way of saying, welcome to To Serve, a style column and the descendant of Hi! Fashion. “To serve” means to show someone up, to bring it to the table. Its meaning in the context of style is intuitive: to bring something arresting, something exciting —something shocking— to the table. I’m here to serve for you, as best I can, or show off others who are already serving, in this fashion-slang sense. But I’m also here to serve you —  with ideas for fashion, for food, for anything with an aesthetic you can control.

Here’s my recipe for the beginning of the school year: fresh. I inevitably enter into a new semester with lots of “plans” — or, ideas of structure that usually crumple but provide some preliminary sense of stability. This year, those plans feel especially wound up with that frantic, half-realistic sort of busyness, because I have so little Swat time — one fall semester, followed by a spring abroad and maybe a summer too. But fresh is the key. Fresh takes that frantic busyness and makes it a cold, bracing wind on the back of my neck rather than sticky sweat on my palms. Fresh is productive. Fresh is an attitude. But fresh is also — here comes the style — an aesthetic. It gives activity clean lines, it gives food crisp healthiness. I have a pair of black sneakers coming in the mail, and a stack of plain ribbed tank tops, which I begged my mom for, laid out ready on my shelf. I finally pushed myself to truly purge my gigantic and impractical wardrobe through the productive (hopefully…) means of an Etsy store, and have all kinds of ideas about the many jobs I will work on campus. This is fresh. Fresh is a motion so streamlined it becomes a glide, purposeful and graceful.

Freshmyn, of course, get to be the most fresh. You are arriving at a huge moment of change! This is a ridiculous and unhelpful comment, of course, because you already knew that. And yet you won’t really find out what that means for you — on an individual, emotional, and practical level — for a few months, at least. If you’re a little slow on the uptake, like yours truly, it might take you most of this year.

And yet, in the eye of this storm lies the gift of freshness, a generative openness that holds endless possibility. In terms of style, I mean this: your whole life looks different now. You walk through grass on the way to class whereas before maybe you walked across pavement; what does that mean for shoes, for the speed at which you walk and the angle at which you tilt your spine? You eat in a dining hall with myriad options of food and myriad people next to you, whereas before you probably prepared a plate from a moderately stocked fridge or had food set in front of you, optionless, by your parents, to eat with a limited number of household residents; what does that mean for the foods you eat and the way you conceptualize your body, for the times and spaces in which you structure alone time? Your life looks different, you look different, and you get to tell your story, through your aesthetic, differently. You are fresh, in motion, going forward. For upperclassmen, here’s my plan and my advice to you: let’s emulate this, this crisp possibility and excitement, this spirit of examining or reexamining the ways we hold ourselves on this campus.

Because fresh preserves fun, too. Change requires effort, and so can be unappealing, or even scary – especially when you aren’t in control of the change, as is often the case at that the beginning of a new year. Looking at change as the freshness that infuses your look and allows you to make new aesthetic choices gives you an upper hand, and gives the malaise of the beginning of the school year direction. Personally, I’m excited to leave behind my first-day of school stress dreams and get gliding. It’s time to serve, fresh style.

Advice for freshmen, from Swatties who learned it the hard way

in Campus Journal by

Your first year at college is a time for learning. And while you all, like me, have somehow weaseled your way into one of the most academically intense colleges in the country, I found that the majority of my learning last year happened outside of the classroom. Your freshman year at Swarthmore College will open you up to a whole slew of new experiences, both good and bad, and I hope that you will in some way learn from all of them. However, there were a few times in the last year that my fellow freshmen and I had to learn things that would have been helpful to know, right off the bat. With that being said, here is my compiled list of Advice for Freshmyn, from Swatties Who Learned it the Hard Way.

 1.     Sometimes, hallcest can actually work out.

2.     If you’re a NARP and you go to the gym any time between three p.m. and dinner, be prepared to share the few machines with many varsity athletes who can all run really fast and pick up heavy things.

3.     Sometimes the frats/Olde Club can get a little crowded. If people are invading your personal space, don’t be shy! Plant those feet and push them away.

4.     Speaking of frats, if you get bored at DU there is a room with a big couch on the side and an entire shelf of old yearbooks. A great way to pass the time while your friend gets hot and heavy on the dance floor is grabbing one at random, then guessing which of the old white guys in the book A) are on the Board of Managers, B) stopped giving money when Swarthmore got rid of its football team, or C) are even alive anymore.

5.     Make sure to assert your dominance over your roommate(s), so they don’t carry you outside and lock you out in the snow in only your underwear.

6.     Don’t leave your mouse traps set over vacations, unless you want your entire room and all of your clothing to smell like a dead mouse for the rest of the semester.

7.     If you want food from Paces and are trying to estimate how long it will take, follow this formula: think of how long it would take a restaurant or other reasonable institution to prepare your meal, then add two hours.

8.     If you ate microwave popcorn for breakfast, don’t also eat it for lunch. If you have eaten microwave popcorn for breakfast and again for lunch, definitely don’t eat it for dinner. Same goes for pop tarts and ramen.

9.     Did you wake up to your roommate having sex? Do not pretend to be sleeping. Avoiding confrontation might seem like a good short-term plan, but you will most definitely regret it when you wake up the following weekend to even louder moaning from a roommate who thinks you will sleep through it.

10. When masturbating, lock your door during, and unlock it right after. If you come home and your door is locked but your roommate is there, you know what is happening.

11. Beware of swooping, but also thank the gods of interrupted romance if you end up going home with somebody who has a single.

12. If you only hook up with one person for the entire first semester, just know that Swarthmore law dictates that they will be in your 8-person seminar in the spring.

13. If you find yourself about to lose your virginity in your best friend’s roommate’s bed, be sure to put a towel down, and double check that you didn’t leave your underwear.

14. The Sharples “two pieces of fruit” rule was made to be broken. Hoard that shit.


Against freshman-only housing

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

At the Phoenix, we believe it is imperative that first-year housing continue to be mixed by class year.

Mixed housing is an integral part of the Swarthmore experience. Living with older students allows first years to meet people they would otherwise never meet; people from other departments, clubs and teams. As a first year, having these older students available as a resource is critical to adjusting to the rigor of the school. As first years, upperclassmen are available on our halls to advise us on everything from the confusion of registration in the first week to making decisions about a course of study at the end of the year. But more importantly, they guide us through the transition away from home and high school and into an (almost) grown-up world. Because of mixed housing, upperclassmen serve as critical mentors to younger students as they adjust to life at the college.

From a more practical standpoint, expecting RAs to take responsibility for as many as 30 (?) first-years on a hall without help from any other upperclassman leaders is an unfair challenge. An RA in this position would serve a completely different role from other RAs, taking on substantially more responsibility because of the large number of first-years relying on them for support academically and socially. Similarly, not having other upperclassmen on the hall would fundamentally change the dynamic between the RA and the residents. With a universal 3-4 year age gap between them, the RA becomes a figure of authority rather than a resource. As tThe sole upperclassman on a hall, this person functions more like a camp counselor than a true RA, potentially undermining the valuable relationship that the current situation fosters.

The other potential change to the housing plan is to offer substance-free housing to students; a choice that we fully support. The lack of substance-free housing is inconsiderate to those students who choose not to drink. Their study schedules and sleep patterns may be disrupted by their peers who participate in drinking and other substance use on campus. Furthermore, students who have experienced traumatic incidents that involved drinking may have disruptive responses to sharing a living space with students who choose to drink. Students in these situations have been forced off-campus in the past. Offering substance-free housing would give people with a range of experiences and desired living conditions a space on campus.


Only a month gone, but plenty to reflect upon

in Acatalepsy/Columns/Opinions by

Fall break has come and gone, meaning many of us have headed home, left the bubble and settled back into cozy beds, eating non-Sharples food. As I slipped into bed my first night home, pulling my comforter over my shoulders, I felt a rush of recognition. That simple act of getting in bed, with all its accompanying details — the slight dog smell, the weight of the blankets, the sudden warmth that contrasts with the cold hardwood floors — instantly brought me back to my life at home.

I was picking up right where I left off. This was the life I associated with high school. It felt like a million past nights; the feelings transcended time and space. Yes, I just spent a month in school, but if I closed my eyes in that moment, college seemed like a dream. My here and now was so familiar, ready to be linked with countless memories that were easily accessible and at the ready. The lives of my parents and sister seemed relatively the same as before. Work and school dominated the weekdays, and the weekends were always in demand, disappearing to viola concerts, sport practices, play rehearsals, errands and catching up on sleep.

Everything was at once comforting, familiar, nostalgic, but also stagnant. It was the same monotony and small-town life that I was eager to leave only a month before. Slipping back into this second skin, I had to wonder, is this what people aspire to? Do people want to settle into routine? Do people just want a life they can predict and depend on — a home to consistently return to, something unchanging in the midst of an accelerating world? It is evident from history that just because it’s the way things have always have been, “familiar” is not necessarily synonymous with “best.”

Change is such an essential part of life: jobs are lost and gained, the weight of death is only lightened by new births. Humans are creatures of habit, attempting to defy the natural order and attain peaceful organization. At Swarthmore, my week-to-week schedule varies so much depending on what events are going on. One Monday will never be identical to the next.

Going home is so strange in part because I am entering a sphere entrenched in routine. Not to say there are no variables to the weekly template — at home I made sure to change up my life, stave off boredom, go out and do things — but there is not the rich abundance of activities and the wild loveliness of college. College is a new place in which I’m a different version of myself. And going home makes this internal change salient.

Before beginning school, I had scoffed at the notion of an October break. A full week? So early! It seemed ridiculous. No other school had a long break, and after only a month, it seemed much too soon to come home. I wouldn’t even be homesick. Little did I realize that time has a very different way of passing at Swarthmore. One month is so miniscule when considering the four years spent at college, but it feels like eternity when you’re constantly busy surrounded by friends and fun. Swatties are accomplishing and learning more than they even recognize. It is a community that constantly stimulates, and the students rise to the occasion. In a place so rich with resources and draped in luxury, it isn’t a far stretch to say it’s “too good to be true.” Especially as a freshman with unprecedented independence and excitement, I can say that I love college. Yet, when days are so jammed with activity that a morning feels like a separate entity from an afternoon, a break is welcome.

Come October, students start to yearn for their hometowns. I was surprised by my own eagerness to return to the quaint 01036, suffering through a seven-hour bus ride that turned more into eight and a half — a small price to pay for a warm bear hug from my mom. Home is where the heart is. Home is not only Hampden now, though. Swarthmore, Mertz and 19081 are also home.

Each student has their pre-Swattie existence, a unique history that they bring to campus. These enrich everyone else’s experience at Swarthmore, but inevitably they will remain just that, stories that tell who they were and how they came to be, but don’t reflect who they are and who they will become. College is a limbo state, a festering of change, clashing of ideas, existential crises and late night quandaries. It’s odd seeing an upperclassmen in your hall dressed up to go to a job interview because that brings the real world so tangibly close.

Going home for October break leaves me incredulous about all I have done and learned in such a short time at Swarthmore. It is the shocking realization that I am already a different daughter than the one my parents dropped off at campus that first day. I am sucked so easily back into my home world, and it is instinctive to feel I’m back in high school, but I consciously know it isn’t so. College is not some wonderful world I imagined, it’s my new reality. A week is just enough to get my fill of familiar and then return to the home that I am building for myself 250 miles away. A home not yet well-known, but one that is entirely my own, that will bridge me to a future of familiars chosen by me, for me. In the day-to-day shuffle the collection of minute changes in how we think, interact and exist can be overlooked. Sometimes there is the “ah-ha” epiphany about our identities or opinions, but usually it is the everyday, constant yet subtle influences that over time reshape who we are. We go home and laugh when relatives exclaim, “You’ve changed so much, it’s been too long!” Little do we realize how accurate these statements are. When you are in a place  as progressive as Swarthmore and constantly challenging what you believe and who you are it doesn’t take long to begin transforming — as little as one month. College and home are worlds apart, separate families, but come together equally in importance and influence in what makes each of us who we are.

CAs to be eliminated from new student orientation

in Around Campus/News by
RAs and CAs lead an activity during Orientation Week.
RAs and CAs lead an activity during Orientation Week.

The Campus Advisor position has been eliminated for new student orientation for the class of 2018. The CA position was a voluntary one that made up one-third of the leadership of the MARACAS groups that freshmen are assigned to for orientation, the other leaders being Resident Assistants and Student Academic Mentors. In recent years, MARACAS groups have been formed on the basis of the halls to which the first-year students, SAM and RA belonged, with CAs only sometimes belonging to the same hall.

Lili Rodriguez, associate dean of diversity, inclusion, and community development, and Rachel Head, assistant dean for residential life, said the decision to revamp orientation in this way was made after years of collecting feedback from participants and after hearing from CAs, RAs and other early-return participants.

In their comments to the Phoenix, they did not specify the precise reasons why.

“With StuCo’s help, we are actively recruiting a larger and more diverse Orientation Committee,” Rodriguez and Head said. “This larger committee will be charged with organizing many of the social events and traditions that occur during Orientation. The RAs and SAMs will continue to take the lead as the group facilitators and leaders for their first-year students and will now also serve as the official greeters for new community members. This is important, because it allows RAs and SAMs to establish dorm teams more thoughtfully and to begin to build their relationships with new students right away.”

But former CA Shaina Lu ’16 thinks the CA position is very helpful and outlined its utility.

“The CAs did a lot of the leg work for orientation, from getting their first-years to the right place at the right time, to getting things to the proper locations like food in the dorms for Taste of Philly, to answering random questions,” Lu said. “I thought that the CAs provided very valuable insight and help to the first years being that they were mostly sophomores and had just been in the first-year’s footsteps not too long ago. I also thought the CAs were incredibly useful since the RAs were still in training. And I always hear about RAs complaining about how much they hate orientation, so why not have a group of people who are super excited for orientation? The CAs clearly want to be here since they are not getting paid or anything — just honestly excited to come back early help the new first-years.”

Other students did not completely understand the utility of a CA and felt they did not have a major role to play in their orientation experience.

Chris You ’17, for example, thinks the lack of CAs will not have not have a significant impact on first-year orientation.

“Personally, for me, I wasn’t sure of the role of a CA,” You said. “Either the training was inadequate, or the position is unnecessary and perhaps better served by RAs and SAMs doubling up to fill the role.”

On the other hand, Desta Pulley ’17 felt CAs played a useful role and opposes the removal of the position.

“I think CAs are very useful because they are a good resource for showing students around campus, answering questions and giving more information about the school, and generally just being another guide and mentor for new students,” Pulley said.

Former CA Mercer Borris ’16 thinks the CA position was an important way to give first-years a chance to meet upperclassmen before classes start, but wishes the role had extended past orientation week.

“I wish the college gave more opportunities to extend the CAs’ job, such as continuing MARACAS dinners and events past orientation week and into the fall semester,” Borris said. “Once orientation ends, Swarthmore considers the CA job to be finished.”

However, given the way MARACAS groups were configured, Borris still supports the removal of the position.

“I found that really frustrating because I was assigned to CA a hall that was not even in my dorm. Once my job ended, I was not able to physically be there for my CA group, even though I would have liked to be,” Borris, who supports the decision, says. “I hope that rather than simply eliminate the CA position, the administration continues to improve orientation week and perhaps come up with a new position.”

Resident Advisor Aliya Padamsee ’14 agrees that the CA position is obsolete in its current form and said her current residents felt the CA program was useless, but her experience as a first-year student had been different.

“I have fond memories of my two CAs during my freshman year, when the groups were not hall-based, rather a random grouping,” Padamsee said. “I appreciated that a lot more because I got to know people who I may never otherwise have come into contact with. I don’t see the point of having hall-based CA groups, because you’re going to get to know your hallmates anyway, most likely due to proximity. However, now that RAs and SAMs may be taking over the position, hall-based groupings make the most sense, but are not the most valuable, in my opinion.”

Eleanor Pratt ’14, a former CA and current RA, believes it is crucial for RAs and first-years to establish a relationship of trust and friendliness over the first week and is not opposed to the elimination of the CA position.

“I think it is okay that the CA position has been eliminated because those duties can go to people who are actually paid and have better training,” Pratt said. “There are still ways for underclassmen to be involved in orientation. Just ways that are more sustainable and that can build longer-lasting ties between students and first-years.”

Rodriguez and Head stated that orientation grows and changes every year, with each incoming class being different from the last.

“Another important change is that want to move away from simply thinking of orientation as just one week; orientation at Swat is actually a year, as it can take long to fully get acclimated,” Head said. “We’re identifying students who are interested in doing some of that orientation work throughout the academic, year as well.”

Go to Top