Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
In response to student requests, college administration has offered all faculty and staff members three hours paid leave today to volunteer at the polls and to get out the vote. Students Emiliano Rodriquez ’05 and Ethan Ucker ’07 with the support of Student Council co-president Jyoti Gupta ’05 proposed the idea, backed up by a 400 signature petition of students, which said in part “for an institution that makes social responsibility a central part of its mission, we believe it is absolutely appropriate to extend this opportunity to all members of the Swarthmore College community.”
The students met with Vice President Maurice Eldridge last Wednesday, initially suggesting a full day off for staff to volunteer. Other early proposals included closing Sharples for Tuesday evening and holding a giant pizza party in Upper Tarble in conjunction with the SVRC party, which was rejected for obvious logistical reasons (including the size of Upper Tarble and the capacity of local pizza parlors).
Eldridge brought the issue to the college administration and the final proposal was worked out: all faculty and staff, subject to the approval of the supervisors, will get three hours leave to volunteer for election day related activities. It should be emphasized that this leave is not for voting, but for poll watching, voter transportation and so forth. “Being Swarthmore, this is keeping with our commitment to civic engagement,” Eldridge says, “This would be a good thing to do.” So far, it is unclear how many staff members will take advantage of this opportunity.
“I think the administration is very supportive and encouraging of the election-related efforts that have been organized by students, faculty and staff on and off campus this semester,” Gupta said in a written statement to the Gazette, though the students’ initial request for a full day’s leave for staff was not granted. So far, no similar policy exists for students, who will have to work out any missed classes with their professors.