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The McCabe experience

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Often referred to as “The Cage,” McCabe library inspires a wide range of feelings among the student body, many of which are far from positive. As someone who spends a large portion of my time in McCabe, I can easily see why my fellow students harbor varying degrees of animosity towards this library. As an initial critique, the walls are lined with narrow windows, reminiscent of a medieval prison. Furthermore, sometimes, when I am here late at night, friendly McCabe mice will scuttle past me, and although these small rodents are a cute reminder that there is life beyond my essays, it would be ideal for them not to be in an academic building. The seats of the carrels lining McCabe’s exterior walls are stiff and uncomfortable enough to keep even the most exhausted Swatties awake during a late-night study session. Combine all of this with bleak and colorless walls, everything serves to set a glum mood that fails to lend comfort or inspiration. Whenever I am studying on the ground floor for extended periods of time and the inevitable need to journey up to the second-floor restroom to empty my bladder arises, I am struck by how purely ridiculous it is that the designers felt no need to include a restroom on the main floor.

But all these issues aside, the defining characteristic of McCabe, the one that truly cements the name “McCage,” is the chronically dim lighting. While I was at one of the campus visioning sessions last semester, one of my friends declared, “As soon as I step into McCabe, I instantly feel depressed.” Sitting, as I am now, in a gloomy study room on the third floor, my computer screen is almost brighter than the two meager lights flickering on the ceiling. These poor lighting conditions, combined with the other structural problems of McCabe, make it difficult for the space to promote effective studying and improve the emotional, mental, or social wellbeing of students.

I often ask myself why I return to this library, night after night, to sit in these uncomfortable chairs, surrounded by narrow windows, drab walls, and dim lights. Considering the plethora of problems I have just listed, my presence here seems almost a contradiction. Yet I think that for all its flaws, McCabe has been a defining part of my Swarthmore experience, and is a space that I have grown to love, and that I believe has potential to better serve the student experience. I love the sense of community in McCabe, which I think is most clearly manifested in the collective migration that happens at 10 P.M. for snacks and coffee. Meandering over to the snack line at 10 P.M., being either delighted by the presence of Oreos or disappointed by the presence of those oatmeal-cookie-things that pop up to the collective dismay of assembled McCabe-goers, has become an integral part of my Swarthmore experience. These snacks and coffee, in and of themselves, really aren’t anything extraordinary, but the invigorating social atmosphere created by the nightly 10 P.M. study break tradition is what makes it so important. Despite its flaws, and despite the problems I, and many other Swatties, have with McCabe, it is an important part of communal structure at Swarthmore both socially and academically.

Considering the importance of McCabe, and considering that many Swatties spend a large percentage of their time on campus in libraries, the importance of these spaces cannot be overstated. While those who do not enjoy McCabe have alternative libraries they can turn to, including Underhill and Cornell, the fact remains that McCabe is the largest library on campus. While my experiences with this library cannot be said to represent the entirety of the student body, I think it is an important space that shapes social and academic culture on campus. As such, the importance of addressing the innumerable structural issues of the library must be addressed, and I hope that, in the future, efforts, such as the recent visioning process, can be harnessed to make McCabe a space that enhances the student experience. After all, it wouldn’t take that much—just give us some light!

President Smith: Peaceful protest at Swarthmore

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Peaceful protest and free speech have always been central to Swarthmore’s ethos, history, and identity. Today I want to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to the right of our students and all members of our community to protest peacefully. This right is among our proudest traditions and most essential values.

In April and May of 2015, students sat in peaceful protest in the hallway outside the Investment Office for almost five weeks, without incurring any conduct violations whatsoever. In fact, our student conduct policy explicitly and unequivocally supports students’ right to express their views, feelings, and beliefs inside and outside the classroom and to support causes publicly, including by demonstration. The policy clearly states, however, that these freedoms of expression must not “impinge on the rights of other members of the community” or the “essential operations of the College.” Disrupting the work of staff members or of an office violates this policy and intrudes on the rights of individuals.

On February 24, a group of ​three dozen community members who are passionate about climate change and support divestment, ​held a sit-in on the second floor of Parrish Hall in front of the Investment Office, the same hallway as in 2015. It was their right to do so, as it was in 2015. Most of the assembled students remained in the hallway, but some crowded into the Chief Investment Officer’s small office, preventing him from completing all but the most menial of tasks and restricting his movements and rights. The students who occupied the Investment Office were warned multiple times that they were in violation of the student conduct policy and were given the chance to move to the hallway to continue their protest. Several chose to return to the hallway; five others chose to remain in the office despite multiple warnings that they were occupying a staff member’s workspace and preventing him from doing his job.

Refusal to leave a staff member’s office clearly does not adhere to our student conduct policy. That policy needs to be applied equally and consistently, no matter who breaches it. And when there are intentional breaches, it is fair that those doing so face potential consequences which might include a warning or probation.

Here at Swarthmore we have focused considerable attention and resources on changing our energy use on our campus. We are now leading efforts to galvanize the institution of a carbon charge on college and university campuses around the country, and we are encouraging other higher education institutions to support carbon pricing publicly. Faculty in our Environmental Studies program offer courses that educate our students about the causes and consequences of climate change so that they might be empowered to create solutions to this urgent challenge. More than a dozen student organizations are dedicated to sustainability and to making a positive difference on this campus and in the world. While we may disagree with those who support divestment as a strategy, we agree on fundamental principles, including our deep commitment to environment sustainability and our enduring respect for peaceful protest both on this campus and beyond.

Valerie Smith, President


On snow and God and Swarthmore

in Columns/Musings of Mariani/Opinions by

The snow began to fall early Tuesday morning and, like some kind of non-dystopian Silicon Valley technology firm, delightfully disrupted our lives. Classes were cancelled, local children sledded the rolling hills of our campus, and many a Swarthmorean sported scarves and sweaters and other such beautiful winter saratorial festoonment. I, myself ,was quite lackadaisical and unproductive as I passed the time with a few friends, soaking my shoes in the slush and engaging in the philosophical speculation that characterizes so many conversations at any college, especially one as liberal and artsy as our own.

This column will be a more personal note than is usual for me. My numerous loyal readers will know that my last three columns have been about contemporary American politics and society. I have not told you much about myself. But seeing the children sledding down the hills in front of Parrish Beach and around Mccabe Library stirred within me nostalgic feelings and life reflections that I want to share here.

I feel lost and I feel loss. I do not know what to do anymore and I feel that a sense of self I once possessed is gone. In our existential age, youth is when you are supposed to question who you are and what you believe, when the values and personhood given to you by your society and family are subject to critical examination so that you can redefine your own being. But I am worried I never had a personhood or values to begin with. I feel rootless. I feel that I was blind my whole life and did not know it. Now that I have gained sight, all I see is fog. This is not necessarily always unpleasant but it is certainly unsustainable.

Coming to college has expanded my worldview, but I do not know if I have grown enough as a person to meet the challenges of maturity. In high school my life was small and I was fairly dissatisfied, but I was the master of my domain. Teachers liked me, I had a good reputation in my school, I knew who I could trust, who was right, and who was wrong. Since coming to college, I have encountered a wider variety of people and viewpoints than I ever did in high school. I have modified a few of my beliefs and habits and have, in a few small ways, improved. But, for the most part, I think that I have failed to live up to the challenge of adulthood. I have acted like a child and it has hurt and upset people around me. I am not trying to be overly harsh on myself; honest, fair self-examination has led me to the conclusion that I have not been living up to my own standards and principles. I think that nostalgia can be beautiful, but for the past several years I have used it to excuse my own immaturity and fear of becoming more self-sufficient.

My problem, and I suspect the problem of a lot of my friends, is that we do not believe in anything. We know things and we study arguments and defend certain positions, but I feel that in order to really believe in something you have to live it. I’ll remain lost so long as I do not try to settle anywhere. I feel like my fear is that I will settle in the wrong place. It is easy for me to see how things could go wrong, how certain positions can lead people astray. But my brother, who is older and wiser than me, gave me the advice that it is better and more important to pursue any goal than to have a perfect goal. We are all trying to get to the same place; the land of milk and honey and social justice and self-actualization. We all know we have to take our own paths to get there.  

To continue with the path metaphor, I feel like I am standing at a fork in the road with a signpost pointing to twenty different paths I could take. I know where I want to get to, but I do not really know which one of the roads will take me there. So I have been waiting in front of the signpost and not going anywhere. Perhaps if I choose a path I will not be going directly to my destination, but I will probably be getting closer to it. Even if I go down a path that takes me further from my destination, I will only learn that by getting a better idea of how to get where I want to go, which will not happen by waiting in front of the signpost. Since I do not want to be lost anymore, I should go ahead and get somewhere.


Why I Left Swarthmore

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

I was studying for finals in Cornell basement when the email came. It was one of 50 emails I received every day, but this one was different. Almost afraid to click on it, my fight-or-flight response kicked in as my heart raced faster and my body tensed up as if I were about to take an organic chemistry final. After a few seconds, I finally clicked on the link:

“Congratulations! It is my pleasure to offer you admission…”                                      

I wanted to scream but instead let out the smallest squeal, quickly remembering that I was in a library. After a weird look from a student sitting near me, I calmed myself down and kept reading.

I had been accepted into Brown University, where I am now.

That acceptance letter made me feel happier than I had in awhile, maybe even that whole year. The funny thing is, that feeling of happiness was all too familiar. I had felt almost the same way when I got into Swarthmore. Actually, I was even more excited about my acceptance to Swarthmore because college decisions felt like a much bigger deal back then. So what changed, and why did I leave Swarthmore?

Maybe my high expectations of Swarthmore had something to do with it. I loved the idea of going to Swarthmore and looked forward to it more and more during my gap year. But a few weeks after arriving on campus, the initial excitement wore off, and I started to realize that Swarthmore really wasn’t the perfect place for me.

While academically I was enjoying classes like Bio 1 and Narcissus and the History of Reflection (a first year seminar), I couldn’t help but think I wanted more classes to choose from. I wanted to study neuroscience as well as science and society, which involves studying how science interacts with society through different lenses.  Last semester at Brown, I absolutely loved Introduction to Neuroscience not just because of the class t-shirt, but also because I learned about neuroanatomy, vision, pain, addiction, mental illness, and more.

Just as importantly, I wasn’t happy at Swarthmore. I often felt trapped and frustrated, partly because of the small campus. Being from LA and having taken a gap year, I missed the energy and excitement of cities, and I found myself on a train to Philly every weekend. It was also clear to me that not many of my friends felt the same way—when my friends and I returned from Philly one evening, they told me how nice it was to be back on campus. I, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to get back on the train.

By the time I went back home for winter break, it was clear that I needed a different environment. So for the next few months, I worked on my common app and wrote essays about why I wanted to transfer. The hardest part of the process was asking my professors for recommendation letters because I knew they loved Swarthmore. Thankfully, all of my professors were fully supportive and understood my decision. It was particularly reassuring when one professor told me that some students feel the same way when they come back from studying abroad.

After receiving decisions in May, it took me a while to decide to come to Brown. What if Brown wasn’t right for me either? Ultimately, I decided to take that chance and am happy to be where I am now. I love being in a bigger school with a lively atmosphere (even though it’s much colder here). I love that my roommate is a dual degree student studying anthropology at Brown and furniture design at RISD (she even made a table for our room), and that I can shop classes like Death, Health Care in the US, and Cognitive Neuroscience of Meditation. And of course, Brown gets bonus points for having a Starbucks two minutes away from my room instead of 20 minutes.

But at the same time, there were definitely some things I took for granted at Swarthmore, like my relationship with my professors. Ironically enough, leaving Swarthmore has made me appreciate it even more. Yes, it’s definitely not the best school for me personally, but I feel incredibly lucky to have gone there for a year. In fact, I talk so highly of Swarthmore that it’s a top choice school for both my sister (a senior in high school) and brother (a freshman trying to transfer). When I tell my friends at Brown about Swarthmore, even they agree that they would love to have the kind of professor interactions that Swarthmore students have—they’re amazed that my intro biology and chemistry professors not only knew my name but also helped me write my papers and showed up to problem sessions three times a week. Now that I’m at Brown, I understand how incredible and valuable those interactions were, especially for a freshman.

I also had an amazing job as a graphic design associate at the Women’s Resource Center where I got to design posters and plan events. I loved working with an amazing team in such a calm, beautiful space. Though I didn’t always appreciate it while I was there, the entire campus, for that matter, is just magical in the fall and spring . When I made my final decision to go to Brown, my mom even said, “But Swarthmore’s so much prettier than Brown! I’d stay at Swarthmore if I were you.”

Sometimes, I really do miss being a student there. I miss the walk from the Science Center to Sharples in the evening, having discussions over tea and snacks at the WRC, and most of all, seeing my friends at Swarthmore every day. The way I feel about Swarthmore is similar to how I feel about Korea—even though I spent most of my life in LA, I still consider Korea another home, with family and people I care about. That’s why, even as a student at Brown, I still love Swarthmore and consider myself a Swattie.


Editorial: Standing Together

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

Scrolling through various news sources, one can’t help but sit in terror at the thought of the news on the screen. Trump has created an unprecedented executive order that threatens every value for which America stands, including freedom and the right for everyone to follow their pursuit of happiness. His executive order, posing a travel ban that prevents refugees and immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 120 days, is the direct opposite of what it means to be a collective community of Americans.

While we recognize other political ideologies on campus, we at the Phoenix want to make it clear that we will not tolerate this threat to personal freedom. Because it affects many students who are a part of our Swarthmore community, we believe that regardless of political ideology, we can all stand together in rejecting this travel ban; we believe that we can all support those in our community impacted by the ban.

We refuse to forget that America itself was founded and maintained by immigrants. We would not be the United States without contributions of various cultures and we would not be the U.S. without a diversity of cultures to share in the benefits of our advances. Immigrants, and particularly in this context, Muslim immigrants, have contributed far more good than harm to our country. We also reject Trump’s justifications for his actions. The people affected by the travel ban are children, families, and individuals trying to pursue their dreams. They are not evil people and they are not a threat to the United States; they are only trying to live their lives.  

We, at the Phoenix, must further emphasize that Muslim immigrants and refugees belong in this country. To students on campus from international countries or who are affected by the ban, please know that you belong in the United States because you are a person with inalienable human rights and your own set of personal qualities that make you unique. Despite the horrible rhetoric throughout the country, you belong in the United States because you are an individual with your own goals to pursue. Perhaps most importantly, despite the hate speech throughout the country, you belong in the United States because we all want you in the United States. You are part of our family in the Swarthmore community.

While we recognize that political ideologies may differ, we can all agree that every member of our Swarthmore community belongs at Swat and that we must support each member of our community during these turbulent times. This threat to members of our community is exactly why we all need to stand together in fighting against the travel ban, regardless of political beliefs or ideologies.

At the same time, we must recognize that solidarity can only go so far and declaring our support does not eliminate the pain and very real fear from the horrific events around the country. While we always support those in our Swarthmore family who are hurting during these trying times, stating our support does not fix the problems at hand. Nevertheless, we do want to encourage those who can take action to do so, regardless of political party, and we want to provide resources throughout this process for anyone and everyone who is ready to fight against the oppression. There are many small ways to begin taking action and to show support for those hurting. You can call your senators and local politicians, asking them to fight against the travel ban and emphasizing that you will never vote for a politician who supports the ban. If you are registered to vote in Pennsylvania, you can call Senator Vincent Hughes at (215) 879-7777 or Senator Lawrence Farnese at (717) 787-5662. Groups are also organizing pop-up phone banks throughout campus to continue fighting against the ban. Contact political groups on campus to see how you can get involved. Swarthmore is hosting events to provide a voice against the executive orders including a Panel Discussion on Trump’s Executive Orders led by the Intercultural Center at 6:30p.m. on Thursday, February 2nd.

Finally, we encourage you to share your energy and frustration with the outside community by organizing and attending protests and marches. This week alone there will be a March Against Discrimination, Canvassing to Stand with Muslims, and a March for Humanity. Check the Reserved Student Digest and Facebook events to stay informed about how you can speak out against this threat to our community.

We, at the Phoenix, take pride in our community, including our diverse cultures, and we will continue to provide support and encourage action against any actions that threaten any individual in our community. As part of our effort as a news organization to stand by our community, we have decided to begin publishing a new feature series, “Life under Trump.” We are interested in hearing from members of our community who have been affected by Trump’s recent executive orders and, if they feel compelled to do so, to send in testimony of their experiences to editor@swarthmorephoenix.com. We hope to collect stories of community members who have been, or have family members who have been, directly affected by the actions of the Trump administration and publish a collection of this testimony each week. Our goal is to humanize the dangerous implications of the executive orders, to give a platform to those who are increasingly denied a voice, and to prevent the creation of an othered or erased victimhood in light of the current political climate.

The insecurity of a dark campus

in Columns/Opinions by

As days grow shorter and night time fills more of the days, I notice how underlit campus is. Walking between dorms and libraries, I often find myself speeding to the next street lamp without much light to accompany me. Even at the end of my first semester at Swarthmore, I recognize there is a discomfort in being so wholly in the dark.

I don’t think it’s unfamiliar to feel unsafe on campus. Parties are the first spaces to come to mind, and McCabe has been vandalized and used for hate speech this semester. More universally, however, the lack of lighting on campus sidewalks at night and absence of Garnet Safety call lines present a different problem altogether. In the present state, the college does not guarantee security when moving between campus spaces, and although there is no substitution for teaching individuals how to act properly and how to avoid dangerous situations, the addition of campus lighting and the implementation of more programs like Swat Team beyond party spaces must be taken on to make our campus a better place to live and move.

Early on Thursday mornings, I walk home from the Phoenix Office after helping to put out the paper. At the beginning of the semester, I walked by the amphitheater to Wharton because that was the fastest way to my bed. However, after two or three weeks of walking in the dark, I realized how uncomfortable I felt when I couldn’t see or know what was immediately to my right. Since then, I’ve started to walk down Parrish Beach to have even just a few lamps lighting my way home.

Just to note, I haven’t been uncomfortable walking before coming to Swarthmore. I often spent nights in Rock Creek Park and neighborhoods like Swampoodle and Petworth in Washington, DC into the early morning, roaming parks or streets I hadn’t visited before. The fact that there is some dissonance between being at ease in a place similar to the arboretum for hours and the anxiety I feel in the short five minutes should be cause for concern. I am far from unfamiliar with walking alone, so it’s not just the newness of being alone that is making me disconcerted.

My discomfort, however, does not come from my time on campus being just over three month; many first years and others have voiced similar concerns. It should not be acceptable that students can so consistently feel uncomfortable or even unsafe, particularly when it involves getting to where students live. North campus is generally well lit, but the areas more populated with dorms, which need to be accessed more at night, are left unlit. Besides the short walk across Parrish Walk, the walk from Mertz to Wharton only has four lampposts. First, students at colleges like Swarthmore are often up working late at libraries due to rigorous workloads, meaning they must walk home fatigued with only their backpack. Further, that main line between dorms includes those party spaces like the frats and Olde Club, mixing many people, some of whom are drunk, with spaces in which it can be hard to know one’s surroundings. Leaving the party does not mean that the insecurity of the space stops at the door; getting home can sometimes be the most frightening part of the night. Lastly, the current system fails most sharply for students without good eyesight and other problems with getting between buildings. It should be the school’s priority to ensure their access and the utility of infrastructure for all that use our campus.

To make the campus work for each person, the college should invest in adding more lampposts and blue light stations to sidewalks between dorms and on the northeastern side of campus. The lampposts would mitigate the dangers of late night walks as described earlier and would enhance the campus experience for many, functionally or emotionally. Blue lights, however, are more important. Although many students have cell phones to contact Public Safety, issues of phones running out of battery or a loss of service, as is common near Wharton, happen often. I would recommend Swarthmore follow the system in place at the University of Maryland College Park where, at any spot on campus, one can see at least one blue light, and from one blue light, one can see two others. Yes, that campus is much larger than Swarthmore’s, but the function of a student being able to move from one light to the next, so Public Safety officers can see from where a student is calling their office, holds high value in dangerous situations where a student may not feel like they can speak. Finally, having groups of students trained like Swat Team outside on Friday and Saturday nights would make sure there is an active force mitigating interpersonal situations that might now go unchecked.

Now, there are objections to having these installations from going in the ground. First, some argue that the investment is not worthwhile and that campus has enough measures of security in place to protect students. However, by building these systems, campus would gain three benefits. On top of simply improving student welfare, the college would preempt any citations on the campus infrastructure being a contributor to dangerous situations. Moreover, the college could more effectively describe its efforts to make the campus community safe to prospective students and families, making the school more attractive to many.

Some say the environmental aspect of campus would deteriorate because of the installations. Although we lack of severe light pollution despite our proximity to Philly, I would say there are environmentally-conscious ways to incorporate these measures, like using LED lamps, and that student safety and health should be the priority of the college.

Swarthmore’s campus does not provide access or security to students as it now stands, and it should be the college’s focus to improve conditions to make it functional for all people that enter campus. I would recommend the college act now to build these systems as winter approaches, days become shorter, and more hazards like ice become a reality.

Bursting the Swat bubble

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Sitting in the Starbucks a mile away from campus in Springfield on a Saturday afternoon, I sit enjoying my coffee as I think of how much work I am getting done and take mental notes of what I still have left to do. In a matter of a few hours of being separated from the stress of Swarthmore, I have already finished my lab report and can begin writing my research paper before the sun sets and I head back to campus. I am in my element, in work mode, and nothing can stop me from finishing my homework now.

That is the case until a man who has been sitting in the chair next to me for the last few hours interrupts me to ask if he can share an outlet. Of course, I move over so that he can plug in his phone, but the conversation doesn’t end there. He begins asking me questions about the Swarthmore area and how long I have been in the Philadelphia region. It becomes evident to me that he has no idea that Swarthmore College even exists, let alone how selective and intensive its education is.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, we begin conversing about his life and how he just moved to Swarthmore to live with his sister after leaving behind gangs, drugs, and discrimination in Chester. I learn how he is in the process of turning his life around after involvement in some serious drug crimes, which have been difficult for him to escape. He explains, in great detail, his encounters with the police and how it would be impossible for him to ever return home. He claims Chester was not for him, and he would never want to return.

As I mostly listen and nod during his stories, I’m not sure if I should feel uncomfortable or if I should feel guilty for feeling uncomfortable. Despite my slight distress, when I glance at the time on my laptop, I notice that I have spent almost two hours engrossed in this man’s life stories. Before it gets too dark, I close my laptop with the barely started research paper I had hoped to make progress on and dismiss myself from the conversation.

Despite my unfinished paper and my unease, I have no regrets as I walk away from the discussion reminded of the world outside Swarthmore that is more than just academics or writing papers. I am reminded that Swarthmore is a beautiful ivory tower of knowledge that it is truly educating us with the hope of molding us into change agents. However, it is still a college of the elite, and that means that it alone cannot provide the resources necessary for understanding and effectively changing the world around us.

Walking back to campus, I think of the many other instances that I have been overwhelmed by the Swat bubble, not only how real it is, but also how dangerous it can be. I think of the time my friends and I took an Uber back to campus and the driver from Delaware seemed awestruck that people actually lived in such a scene of nature. I think of how wedding parties come to get their pictures taken in front of the bell tower, implying a surreal and magical quality of the campus that we have grown accustomed to and easily take for granted.

Perhaps most disheartening, I think of how some students have never even been into Philly and how many of us don’t leave campus more than a few times a semester, much less engage with the real world on a regular basis. Suddenly, I am saddened. As a student body, by separating ourselves from the real world, we are allowing ourselves to forget the privilege of even attending college, much less an institution as rigorous as Swarthmore. Yet, more dangerous is the fact that we are also creating an illusion of society based on readings rather than actually engaging with the real world. Through interpreting the world based solely on readings, news articles, and our daily experiences at Swarthmore, we as students are failing to immerse ourselves in understanding and interacting with the communities that we are hoping to impact. As a result, we are setting ourselves up to remain separated from the reality of problems in society and to implement mediocre solutions based on theory instead of knowledge and experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that Swarthmore provides an inclusive environment that is determined to nurture students and that provides a safe haven from some of the very real hardships within society; it allows our academics to be so successful as we are able to focus solely on feeding our minds rather than dealing with problems that could impair us.

However, if we are ever truly going to implement successful solutions to the problems of society, we as students need to branch out of the serenity of the Swat bubble every once in awhile and expose ourselves to communities and the very real conflicts that many people face. As students, it is our job to embrace the whole world around us, beyond just academic perfection, in order to remember our potential to make a difference and form successful solutions to world problems both now and in the future. Even in our world of academic perfection, we need to remember that, despite our ivory tower, we are not just students; we are still members of society with a social responsibility.

Acts of anti-semitism indicate need for improvement

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

Since August 31, five swastikas have been found on or near Swarthmore’s campus. The discovery of offensive, hateful, and bigoted symbols and speech at Swarthmore is nothing new. The history of our institution is rife with examples of bias incidents, graffiti, and actions and hateful symbolism that hurt large swaths of our student population. This academic year has begun on a sour note, one in which students at the college not only feel that the political climate is divisive and dangerous, but that such danger has punctured our “bubble.”

The menace of these swastikas no doubt stems from their historical significance as a symbol of anti-semitism, its 20th century association with and cooptation by the German Nazi Party, and its meaning within neo-Nazi, anti-semitic, white supremacist movements, and the KKK in the United States and elsewhere.

Some debates on the incident on campus have touched on the topic of whether these acts might have been committed by a member of the campus community; we at the Phoenix believe this question does not add to the conversation in a productive way. What is more important is the fact that these acts of hate can and have happened on our campus, and that members of our community have been hurt and their safety threatened.

We at the Phoenix are, again, appalled and offended and stand in solidarity with all students on campus who feel personally targeted or hurt by not just one incident, but by this aggressive and repeated act of hate. We want to amplify the voices and stories of people who this symbol and its associated groups and aggressors aim to destroy. Using the tool of journalism—which is itself under attack by the far right, white nationalist, and anti-semitic groups that are gaining not only popular but also political ground—we will protect those who feel marginalized or dehumanized by the swastika.

Perhaps the lesson to learn is that this is less of a bubble than we thought. The repeated swastika graffiti indicates to us that there is much work to be done in working on campus to build safe communities of solidarity, and to make sure that the hate of the world has no place, symbolically or otherwise, on Swarthmore’s campus.

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