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O4S occupies offices of Dean Braun and Dean Miller in ongoing protest

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At 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1, over 30 students filed into Dean of Students Liz Braun’s office on the first floor of Parrish Hall. As Braun rose from her seat, the students — members of Organizing for Survivors, a group that has protested Title IX handling at the college since early March — placed their backpacks on the floor beside them and announced their plans to stay there indefinitely.

It is now over 50 hours later, and neither the students nor their belongings have moved. Dean Braun had picked up her bags and left silently after Shelby Dolch ’21 delivered a statement on behalf of O4S, and by 5 p.m. on May 2, she had not returned to her office. No protesters have received citations.

Dean Braun’s office, its lobby and the hallway outside have been packed with students since. Provisions for the sit-in — coffee, Qdoba catering, Federal donuts, home-baked cakes, carrots — proliferate in the office space; most were either donated by professors or funded by sympathetic alumni through O4S’s Venmo. Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Shà Duncan Smith remained with students throughout the first day until around 2 a.m. and provided Chinese takeout for the group. By noon on the second day, over 175 students had participated in the sit-in and 17 students stayed overnight on the night of May 1.

O4S had not publicized the sit-in outside of private meetings and a Nonviolent Direct Action training meeting, hosted with help from Sunrise, a divestment advocacy group that staged a 32-day sit-in in Parrish last spring. For many, the sit-in is a response to growing dissatisfaction with the administration.

“I feel like there’s a narrative that it’s not that bad or something, that this is the best administration can do, but I’ve really seen how jarring it is to be a survivor and feel like no one will support you and just have so many little things that happen that are institutional mistakes that shouldn’t be there,” Omene Addeh ’21, who participated in the sit-in, said. “I think that the responses we’ve gotten from administration are just not satisfactory to me, and if this is what it takes, I’ll do anything I can to help.”

At 9:55 p.m., as protesters prepared to spend the night, two Public Safety officers took down a banner from the Parrish hallway that read “Accountability looks like Beth Pitts resigning.” Pitts is Associate Director of Investigations for Title IX cases. The officers cited a policy against “singling someone out” on banners and the policy that banners receive pre-approval five days before being hung, though the former policy is not listed in the student handbook and banners are not allowed in Parrish in the first place. They also removed two locked file cabinets from Braun’s office around 11:00 p.m.

“Per the Student Handbook, any language that is, ‘harassing, demeaning or uncivil,’ is grounds for removal. In this and other instances if the banner/poster or chalking specifically identifies a community member by name or position in a derogatory manner, it is considered ‘harassment, demeaning, or uncivil,’” Public Safety Director Mike Hill wrote in an email to the Phoenix.

Other administrators who have called O4S’s methodology adversarial and uncivil include President Valerie Smith, who emailed students, faculty and staff of the college at 12:43 p.m. on May 1, alerting the community that the protesters’ presence in Braun’s office violated school policy because it prevented Braun and her staff from being able to work.

“I will go to great lengths to protect our students’ rights to peaceful protest and assembly,” Smith wrote in an email to the Phoenix on May 2. “However, I can’t support ad hominem attacks on individuals. We are capable of, and willing to allow for, disruptions of activities on campus, but no one should be prevented from doing their job, as our policies state plainly. At present, some of our students are in violation of those policies.”

Smith refers to Pitts, Braun and Dean Nathan Miller, from whom O4S has demanded resignations. At rallies during the sit-in, the group chanted songs such as “Hey hey, ho ho, ______ has got to go,” for each of these administrators as well as for frat housing. But in contrast to Smith’s assertion, O4S and supporters feel their demands are based on professional competence, not personality.

For Dean Braun, O4S asks that she apologizes for her dismissal of student reports and concerns about sexual assault and mishandling of Title IX procedures. They believe that Dean Miller failed to correct violations of Title IX policies during Title IX adjudication processes, such as processes that lasted over 6 months. And they write that Beth Pitts asked victim-blaming questions and “belittled” complainants.

“I am evaluating every allegation that has been brought against members of the staff,” President Smith wrote to the Phoenix.

O4S addressed those who disagree with their tactics at their Speak-Out rally on May 1. O4S core members Priya Dieterich ’18 and Lydia Koku ’18 feel that their movement is not unnecessarily combative towards administrators.

“We think that we’re being disruptive and that we’re engaging in nonviolent direct action and we understand what comes with that,” Dieterich said. “But sitting in is not adversarial, being public about our demands is not adversarial. We push back on the idea that just being loud and angry is necessarily adversarial. We have been committed to working collaboratively, we have not portrayed Val Smith as our adversary. If she’s viewing us as adversaries, that’s a decision on her part.”

“These are controversial demands and because of that people see them and our accompanying tactics as adversarial,” Koku added.

In addition to her update on the sit-in, President Smith’s email included a copy of an email that Dean Braun had sent to O4S members after they met the week previous. O4S had not replied. In the email, Braun states that she will create a “student transition team” that will work with the new Title IX Coordinator and Violence Prevention Educator, that the ad hoc committee on wellbeing, belonging, and social life will release their report on the fraternity houses by July, and that she will oversee the creation of enhanced training during freshman orientation, among other updates.

Yet according to O4S members, Braun’s decision to create a student transition team does not solve the issues they’ve identified.

“[The administration] has to decide that they’re going to commit to shared governance with students,” Dieterich said. “It’s not just occasional committees or occasional invitations to the table, but permanently being at the table. And so I don’t want the narrative to be that everything depends on who those people are, I don’t think that that’s true.”

O4S has consistently pushed back against administrative suggestions about committees and external reviews, asking instead for immediate action. At 8:45 a.m. on the second day of the sit-in, a handful of O4S members walked into a meeting of the same ad hoc committee to which Dean Braun referred in her email to ask questions directly to Deans Braun and Miller.

“How many times will you make survivors retell their stories and retraumatize themselves to committee after committee year after year before it means enough for you to take action?” Anna Weber ’19 said to the committee.

The room was silent after O4S delivered their questions. “I think that’s revealing,” Dieterich said before leading the group out of the meeting.

Afterwards, the protest intensified. At noon on May 2, over 150 students lined the Parrish hallway to hear a “special announcement” that O4S had publicized that morning on their Facebook page. They announced their decision to expand their sit-in to Dean Miller’s office as a result of the events of that morning; they said they had planned to address Dean Miller, but could not, as he was out at lunch.

Both The Philadelphia Inquirer and PhillyVoice published news stories online about O4S.NBC News Philadelphia continuously aired and posted two clips of video coverage of the sit-in. Students in the organization expressed anger after hearing that the college had removed NBC journalists from campus, as multiple students posted on the “Swarthmore Memes for Quaker Teens” page with memes about the “banning of free press” on campus.

“This afternoon, after the news crew was done filming in Parrish, the officers met the reporters and advised them that they should leave, and the reporter complied,” Hill confirmed.“The media on hand were never interrupted during their reporting of the protest. Media access to campus is routinely requested, coordinated and approved through the College Communications office and neither of these visits followed that protocol. We are always happy to help accommodate media requests and do so fairly often.”

One of NBC’s clips was titled “Swarthmore Students Stage Sit-In to Protest Sexual Violence.” Yet what distinguishes O4S’s protests from broader national movements such as #MeToo is its focus on the Swarthmore administration over cultural issues, according to Koku.

“What I’d liked to do, or had hoped to do if we had had more time [and] more energy to do so, was connect with some of the other students, the other schools who are organizing specifically around the MeToo movement,” she said. “We haven’t explicitly discussed MeToo around our own organizing because it is so specific to Swarthmore and to transformative justice, but I think that the same challenges and impediments MeToo has experienced, we also have experiences as Organizing for Survivors.”

For Koku, leading O4S during her last semester at the college, despite the challenges she’s faced — which included the fear that she would not receive her degree — changed how she viewed herself and administrators at the college.

“This has made me find my voice in a more real and authentic way that I didn’t have access to before,” she said. “For me to say … You were complicit in the harm that was caused to me and for that reason I need to fight not only for myself but for every single student who’s gone through a similar experience and every single student that was subjected to those experiences and could be vulnerable to administrative harm.”

Because all of O4S’s original core members except one are graduating seniors, the group made efforts to recruit underclassmen to take leadership for next year. Underclassmen such as Dolch held larger roles in the sit-in than they had previously. According to Dieterich, the timing of the sit-in, two weeks from the end of the year, worried her, but the turnout exceeded her expectations.

“A lot of what we’re doing and my willingness to do it publicly in this way is just that I want the concerns of people who are in my year not to be waited out and not to be buried,” she said.

“Seeing all of the people who came out today and especially the younger students who I haven’t even met yet is incredibly heartening, and I have absolute faith that this is going to keep going next year and we’ll all be watching and phoning it in and helping out as much as we can.”

As of the publication of this article, O4S has not announced an end date or condition for the sit-in.

“I deeply regret any pain or burden students have borne unnecessarily due to our Title IX processes and procedures,” President Smith wrote in her email to the Phoenix.

Dieterich, too, regrets that students will continue to spend time on the movement.

“I wish that the administration had listened all the times that these things had been raised in meetings so that students wouldn’t have had to sacrifice so much of their energy, so much of their time, so much of their creativity and imagination and just all of their capacity and resources,” she said. “That’s on the administration.”

CADES celebrates 65th birthday

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Last week, Global Neighbors in collaboration with Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services held an art show in Shane Lounge. The show, which ran from March 25 to April 1, showcased artwork from various media created by both children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities that are currently students at CADES. This was the fifth anniversary of the show at the college, which has previously been held at both Kitao Gallery and in Shane in different years.

The theme for the show this year was a celebration of CADES’ 65-year anniversary, and the pieces exhibited in Shane were loosely unified around that central idea. According to their website, CADES was founded in 1951 as a small group of dedicated parents envisioned a place where their children with cerebral palsy could learn and be cared for in ways that would respect their limitations but also challenge their abilities. Since then, it has evolved to become a vibrant, important resource in southeastern Pennsylvania for school districts, human services agencies, and the families of those with disabilities. They now offer a continuum of high quality supportive services for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Art classes are a regular part of the curriculum for school-aged students, and a recreational class offered to their adult clients. CADES art teacher Paul Zecher teaches both the adult and children’s art classes, and was the primary curator for this year’s art show at the college.

“This year… [it was] all about the celebration [of the anniversary]. We did have some posters with cakes around, but the artwork, I just tried to really have a wide range of different types of art,” Zecher said,  referring to the brightly colored posters of multilayer cakes, accented with gel paint swirls and embellishments and emblazoned with “65th CADES” that were hanging around the room.

Shane was filled with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, with an impressive variety of media throughout the exhibit. Clay sculptures and paper-mache pieces sat alongside a number of poster-style works. Some of them sported feathers, popsicle sticks, and string, making the pieces come to life and jump off the paper. A series of pieces on one wall featured art with the handprints of CADES students as the cornerstone; next to each piece was a photo of the artist, encouraging viewers to imagine the story behind each individual piece.

Zecher noted that working with CADES students means keeping in mind factors that other art teachers may not need to pay attention to. When choosing which materials to work with, Zecher tries his best to use things that are safe and non-toxic and to use a variety of different textures. This stems from the fact that not all of his students use art for its visual effects.

“… some of my students are very tactile. [For them], it’s about touching, and not necessarily looking at the [art]. Some of my students are blind,” he said.

The show would not be possible without collaboration with the student group Global Neighbors. a student-run service organization focused on reducing discrimination and promoting the dignity of peoples marginalized for their physical or medical conditions through volunteer work, outreach, and education. Members volunteer at CADES once a week and also work with CADES staff to plan Discovering Abilities Week, a week-long event celebrating the unique abilities of students at CADES as well as those around the United States regardless of physical or medical conditions. The art exhibition was the culminating event of this year’s Discovering Abilities Week.

Zecher praised Global Neighbors’ work with CADES as an example of the type of work that he would like to see more of at Swarthmore.

“ … one of my biggest interests is the connection between Swarthmore College and the institutions in this town, and the more they can collaborate, to me, the better. Having the students [at CADES] is fantastic, because they get bonded to the students at my school,” Zecher said.

Global Neighbors and Zecher called this week’s Discovering Abilities Week a success, and had exciting plans for other ways to work with CADES in the near future. Chris Chan ’17 said that Global Neighbours recently unveiled plans to give families of students or adults with special needs tours of the Scott Arboretum, but that program is still in its early stages. Regardless of any additional programming, members of Global Neighbors seemed confident the art would be happening again next year, and that their work with CADES would continue because of the rewards it brings.

“They’re so fun to work with… it’s my own time to do art and we get to collaborate,” said Alice Liu ’18.

 

Understanding the names of our everyday: a tour of Swarthmore’s historical buildings

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Photo by Ashlen Sepulveda
Photo by Ashlen Sepulveda

“You know,” began Chris Densmore, curator at the Friends Historical Library, “These names, they’re not just dead, white, rich men.”

The dozen relatives, alumni and students stood awkwardly around Densmore, blocking the entrance to McCabe Library.

History is not only a performance, but also a burden. For most at Swarthmore, McCabe signifies books (and 10 o’clock snacks), Dean Bond signifies roses (and bucket-list hookup spot), Parrish signifies administration (and segregated dorm rooms) and Magill signifies oak trees. The tour was literally disrupting the direct significance and value of what has become in time the “œkonomia” or “house-conduct” of Swarthmore College, and it was tearing a visible hole into the “house” to which my conduct had become accustomed.

For Densmore, however, even “Swarthmore” represents something completely other to what it is in reality.

“When I deal,” said Densmore, an ironic twinkle in his eyes, “with student groups, usually I ask two ‘Swarthmore’ questions: One is: ‘Why are we called Swarthmore?’”

The sounds of two books being checked out interrupted what would have otherwise been a pause as the tour-attendees looked back and forth at one another, eyebrows raised, frowning. Densmore’s eyes laughed as he continued.

“Because Swarthmoor was a place of refuge for Quakers during a time of very bad persecution. It was one place [in England] that for about ten years they could go to and not be sent to jail.”

A broad expanse of analogies opened up on the map of the institution. Swarthmore as a refuge today … but from what? Obviously it serves many as a refuge from the general mediocrity of higher education, a refuge from the inflated cost of that education and a refuge from reality.

“Another one of the questions I ask them … I bring a five-dollar bill, if you know who Isaac Hopper is.”

Another pause interrupted by the beep of the check-out desk. History must be performed in order to remain relevant; validated and checked out in order to be utilized. But in order for these things to be accomplished, history must also be given a face, a name, something with which the public can relate — an ID card.

“He’s an older Quaker gentleman,” continued Densmore, “sitting in a painting over in Parrish Hall with his cane … He was a very well-known troublemaker who is now forgotten. He was president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. And at this time, he and other abolitionists were trying to prevent kidnapping, because if you’re living in Philadelphia at this time and you’re a nice-looking 16-year-old young man running around here … if I whack him over the hand and entice him some way to Baltimore, I’ve got $500 or $5,000—”

“Twelve Years a Slave,” someone from the audience interjected, introducing Densmore’s historical narrative to popular culture and the representation given it by Hollywood.

“Yeah,” resumed Densmore, not exactly amused. “And so, there was a big impetus for kidnapping. And if you got caught for it you’d go to prison; and some people say that the North sent all the slaves south; but that’s not really true. Because the gradual emancipation act, or acts, that follow right behind it, made it very much illegal to move anyone outside of state.”

The portrait of the man, like an idea, still needed to be finished, so that it could speak.

“So Isaac Hopper would be down on the docks, saying: ‘Where are you going with that person? Do you want your ship impounded?’ Hopper was not so much averse to the idea of getting anyone anyway he could away from the clutches of slavery. He would do it legally if he could, but if he couldn’t, there are — other things you can do.”

Hopper was a barrier to efficiency, an obstacle to profit and economic ‘house-conduct,’ at least in Maryland and Delaware. But in order to recognize the face and name of his life, you must of course reconcile the man with the geography of lost names and lost faces.

As the group moved outside, the sounds of gas-powered leaf-blowers contrasted with a chance of rain.

“The temperatures are going to drop,” said Densmore, peering into the clouds.

“Dean Bond Rose Garden,” resumed Densmore as the group stood before its gates, “is named after Elizabeth Powell Bond, the first Dean of Swarthmore College. She literally spent the night of December 31 to January 1, 1863 with Frederick Douglass in the garrisons, waiting for the Emancipation Proclamation to come into effect.”

The image of the refuge of Swarthmoor colored the gestures of an Arboretum caretaker several feet away, whose leaf blower had been contracted to push leaves off a sidewalk, like how, perhaps, Densmore was blowing a century of sediment off the heritage of the local environment, to which the feet of Swarthmore students, administrators and Managers continue to compete for influence. I returned to the historical narrative which continued to impede the “œkonomic” efficiency of the institution.

“In 1922, two women go up to the President, Aydelotte, and say: ‘We think it’s about time Swarthmore became racially integrated, and we know a student and we have a scholarship for this student. And Aydelotte said: ‘I’ve got the Honors Program and I got all this and I got all that. I don’t want to tackle another issue.’ So he didn’t do it.”

“[Bond] also said in her last collection address that there’s a race problem in this country, and white people made it, and they better do something to try and fix it. An interesting perspective.”

The tour ended before the troublemaker, Hopper’s, portrait in Parrish Parlors, and it hit me — or else it was a side-effect of the gasoline fumes intermingling with the yet-to-be-historicized historical byproducts of my generation — all obstacles and barriers to the “oekonomia” of Swarthmore, swirling around inside my head. The “haven” seemed a cage, complicit in an unsustainable system of energy-appropriation: hydro-fracturing, deep-sea drilling, the general absence of democracy in the Middle East and Russia. The fossil fuels in which the intimacy of our institution and our “house-conduct” are invested are more profitable, after all, and a greater return on investment for the institution of private education, than most of its students.

Not only are there no buildings or walkways on campus named after the troublemaker, Isaac Hopper, but there are no buildings, or institutions on campus, to my knowledge, named after slaves, former slaves, fossils or fuels. McCabe, Bond, Magill and Parrish all remain monolithically human and impersonal, like the slaves and fossil fuels that produced the American industrial revolution and whose historical momentum, moreover, produces the paper form and continues to reproduce the electronic form of this article. Unless we dig into their histories.

The Underground Railway can be found beneath the names of McCabe, Bond, Magill, and Parrish, but so too can pipes full of natural gas, and a power grid dependent on fossil fuels.

If Swarthmore doesn’t recognize itself and its own opportunities in the inspiring frame of Isaac Hopper and in his stubborn need to act as a political obstacle to unsustainable, inhumane systems of appropriation, then Swarthmore loses the opportunity to be remembered and studied as an example of a “haven.” At the moment, it seems more of an example of “civil society’s” status quo than anything else.

“These names, they’re not just those of dead, white men.” They’re exemplary narratives, symbols, guides.

There’s a reason, after all, why we have a portrait of Hopper, and why Aydelotte’s preference for Honors over equality is seen now as a colossal historical failure.

 

Students discover confidential files in Parrish basement

in Around Campus/Breaking News/News by

Students checking on their belongings in Parrish basement storage last week made a surprising discovery: piles of open and sealed boxes containing various school files and records, many of which contain sensitive information about former and some current students. It is unclear if the files were placed in the storage room after Parrish basement flooded in early September or if they had been there before it, but some of them did appeared to have suffered water damage.

Many of the boxes did not have lids and were brimming with files. Records found inside, which went at least up until 2010, included monthly payment plans (including financial aid information), home addresses and phone numbers, bank routing and account numbers, health insurance information and social security numbers, along with other personal student information.

“The covers weren’t on the boxes, meaning someone’s social security number was in plain sight,” said Chris*, one of the students who discovered the boxes. Some of the files displaying social security numbers sat at the top of boxes without lids, facing up. In total, hundreds of students’ social security numbers were discovered on various documents, including lists of them in printed confidential emails among school officials discussing financial aid and health insurance.

Additionally, tuition statements and records of student fines were found, as was information marked “confidential” about potential endowment investments. Several of the boxes had “toss” or “shred” labels on them. Some records found went as far back as the 1960s.

Laura* saw the boxes while helping a friend move her belongings from storage in Parrish Hall. While looking around the room to find her things, she noticed some open boxes near one of the shelves. When she glanced inside, she saw that there were thick stacks of paper rubber-banded together.

“I realized that all the papers had information for individual students on them: names, expected graduation years, social security numbers,” she said. “At first, I thought the papers were related to student payroll but then I saw that they were actually details of monthly payment plans. It was pretty shocking, especially since the papers I saw were for students who had presumably graduated in 2006 or earlier.”

While Parrish student storage is typically locked, the room became accessible after the flooding damaged Parrish basement, leading the school to remove the bottom several feet of the plaster walls, potentially allowing students to crawl in.

Even so, according to Chris, the room is not always locked, including on the weekend he went down.

Mark* was one student who crawled under the wall. He discovered that there were boxes with social security numbers and payroll information. He was disturbed by the accessibility of the files and immediately left.

Similarly, upon this discovery, Laura expressed disappointment, noting that she could not believe documents containing such sensitive student information were left in the open, mentioning how scared she would be if her personal information were left out.

“It takes a special kind of carelessness to leave so much information, on what looked like hundreds of students, lying around. If I found out that the college left my social security number and the details of my payment plan out like that, I would be pretty upset,” she said. “I don’t want some random students to have access to that, especially not a decade later.”

Dean of Students Liz Braun and Assistant Dean of Residential Life Rachel Head both declined to comment, referring instead to Sharmaine LaMar, assistant vice-president for risk management and legal affairs. Lamar stated that it at the moment it appeared that no information was taken or used improperly.

“In an abundance of caution,” Lamar said, “the college is investigating the matter to ensure that no one’s information is in jeopardy of being misused.”

Lamar further noted that the administration takes issues of this nature seriously.

“We take very seriously our responsibility to protect and maintain the privacy of educational records and personal information of all members of the college community,” she said.

* The following are pseudonyms for students contacted by The Phoenix who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the confidential nature of what they discovered.  

Safety Concerns Prompt Potential Parrish Safety Changes

in Around Campus/News by

After a male intruder grabbed a female student in a Parrish residential hall restroom in the fall semester of 2006, the entrances to Parrish’s residential wings were installed with locks to improve security. This included the addition of the keypad systems that allow those who want to enter to unlock the doors using a numerical combination. Now, six years after that incident, and five years after the keypad lock system was installed, there is new concern that Parrish’s residential halls are not adequately secure. As a result, administrators, public safety, and the residents of Parrish are talking about eliminating the keypad system and allowing access exclusively via keys. Indeed, the west all-male hall on Parrish’s fourth floor has already had its key code system deactivated.

According to Public Safety Communication Supervisor George Darbes, the unease stems from the fact that the key code to the Parrish halls has been disseminated beyond the residents of Parrish. “In order to be kept secure, the key code has to be kept to yourself,” Darbes said. “If you give it away, it’s not a safe space anymore.”

“In the past, people have been concerned as to why this was the one space that didn’t use keys,” said Rachel Head, the Assistant Dean for Residential Life. As a result of growing concern, Head began speaking with Parish residential advisors about whether the keypad system should be done away with.

Michelle Ammerman ‘14, the RA for Parrish’s 4th floor east wing, stated that Head contacted her and the other RAs in late August during RA training. “She sent us an email basically telling us to talk about it as an RA team and have our residents weigh in on the topic,” Ammerman said.

Consequently, Ammerman, and the other RAs for Parrish, began discussing the keypad system with their halls. And while Ammerman says that there is no consensus among her hallmates, she said that, “generally, we like the key code system,” adding that “not having to get your key out and not having to get up to let your friends in” was nice.

Indeed, many residents of Parrish, including Ammerman, favor having key codes. “I like the key code because it’s quicker and easier than the key,” said Tom Kim ’16, a resident of Parrish’s third floor, where the keypad system is still in place.

Scheynen Loeffler ’16, a resident of Parrish’s fourth floor, says he would also prefer to have a keypad system. “I don’t think that there are any strangers at Swarthmore that cause me worry,” he said. Even without a keypad system, Loeffler made the point that access to the halls was still quite easy. “People are usually walking out of the door anyways, so if people really wanted to get in, they could just sit outside and wait,” Loeffler added.

But it seems the greatest resistance to the shift comes from the residents of Parrish who live in the rooms outside of the hall door. “The double outside the door feels the most strongly about keeping the key code,” Ammerman said.

In each Parrish hall, there is one room that is outside of the locked door, and for those students, the switch would pose the biggest bother. David Zhou ’15, a two-year resident of Parrish, occupies that room on the fourth floor, and has said that the loss of the key code system has made life more difficult. “It’s inconvenient,” Zhou pointed out. “Last year we had a key code, and it was fine.”

Zhou said the lack of a key code was especially frustrating for taking showers or using the bathroom. “Having to bring my key when I go take a shower is more inconvenient than punching in a code.” While Zhou conceded that a key-only system might be more secure, he did not really feel more protected. “Definitely the key is safer, but that’s never been a concern of mine. I’m not scared of strangers coming to Parrish,” he said.

Indeed, there has been debate about if the key code system truly made Parrish less secure, or if it is just perception. “I’m not that concerned,” Kim said.

But according to Darbes, the key code was spread beyond just Swarthmore. “The key code got handed out to a lot of people,” he said, including visitors from outside the community. In addition, since the key code system is not the same as a card scanner, public safety does not have a good idea about who is entering the hall. “We can’t tell who is coming or going,” Darbes added.

Still, according to Darbes, there have been no reported break-ins or specific security events that can be directly attributed to the key code system. As Head said, the discussion “just came up.”

“It was just marinating on everyone’s mind,” she said. “There was no specific event.”

At the end of the day, Head said, the decision will be left up to the residents and the RAs. “The RAs have the pulse of the community,” Head pointed out. “It could be whatever the community wants,” she added. While Head may personally favor using just keys in the halls, she did say that “I don’t have a strong feeling one way or another.”

“They’re really letting the halls make the decision,” said Ammerman, adding she felt there was no administrational pressure.

But when the RAs and the deans meet again, Ammerman felt that it was likely the key code system would be abandoned. “If I had to guess, I’d say the key codes will go away, because safety is more important than convenience,” she said. Though some hall members may be disappointed, Ammerman felt that they would adjust to a new system. “People are willing to switch for safety purposes.” And when it comes down to it, as Ammerman added, “You just don’t know who is in Parrish.”

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