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.
Did you ever wonder why so many people in the freshman class knew each other before
coming to Swarthmore? Well, if you are a freshman you may know that the answer is
In past years, a separate discussion board was created to allow admitted students to
connect with each other; however, this year Facebook was the means of communicating.
According to Fumiko Egawa ’11, several students she knew who were admitted early decision decided to create the “Swarthmore Class of 2011” group. The handful of students then began to invite others who were accepted early decision to join the group. By the end of December, only weeks after being accepted to Swarthmore, the group grew to approximately 50-60 people.
In February, Early Decision II students were invited (or they found the group on their own) which added another 30 students to the group. By the time regular decision notifications were sent in April, the group had grown to over 300.
Many of the founding members of the group messaged or “friended” people once they joined the group. “We thought we might as well get to know each other now,” said Egawa. This resulted in students arriving at Swarthmore in September with, literally, hundreds of Swarthmore “friends.”
In addition to getting to know the students who were definitely coming, the founding members worked on persuading accepted students to come to Swarthmore. Egawa explained that they acted as unofficial ambassadors who tried to sway students to come to Swarthmore instead of Harvard, Amherst or Williams. The deans became aware of their efforts and nicknamed the five group founders as “the loud crowd.”
Despite all her new online “friends,” Egawa said she they mainly because acquaintances as she really met most of her friends during orientation. However, there was one exception of a student she met half way around the world in Istanbul, Turkey.
Egawa became friends with Ecem Eerseke ’11 through the 2011 Facebook group. She then discovered that Eerseke lived in Istanbul which was where Egawa planned on touring with her father for six weeks in the summer.
As a result of this new connection, the two kept in touch and arranged to meet in Instanbul just weeks before classes began. The two bonded over lunch and shopping and Eersek even introduced Egawa to several other Swatties from Istanbul. The two have remained friends since the summer, which shows the power of Facebook in producing friendships around the world.