IC, BCC Events Omitted From Orientation Schedule Cause Controversy

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.

When the IC and BCC group members stepped on campus, they were surprised to find their orientation meetings had been omitted from the printed schedule.

Anjali Jaiman ’10 explained that it wasn’t until Tuesday “when we found out that the orientation schedule didn’t include any IC/BCC events this year.”

Paury Flowers, Assistant Coordinator of Student Activities, explained wanted to simplify orientation. “This year, it was my goal to streamline the printed orientation schedule. In the process, I decided to include only Deans Office and Orientation Committee sponsored events.”

Although the IC groups are connected to the Deans office, Flowers wanted to avoid including any individual club meetings. Instead, she proposed that clubs advertise during the activities fair or hold an open house.

However, Flowers did not communicate this change to IC group leaders during the summer, partly because she did not receive any emails from them about meetings. The Women’s Resource Center (WRC), whose barbecue event as listed in the schedule, had requested for a placement in the orientation.

“It hadn’t come up with members of IC groups, all summer. When I talked to Rafael, it never occurred to me that we should have a conversation about an open house,” she said.

However, Cecilia Marquez ’11 said she was expecting an email from orientation organizers “asking if we would like to have a session. That email never came.”

Jaiman explained the importance of the IC individual meetings during orientation. “I think it’s really important to have support that first week, because you don’t know people and you come across weird dynamics.”

Jaiman herself experienced “weird homophobic comments” during orientation.

“I transferred because I hadn’t felt comfortable at the University of Chicago for those reasons. It was comforting to go to that space [a SQU meeting] and see it in the orientation schedule, see that this event was institutionally sanctioned for this event, and there was nothing in conflict with this event.”

Cecilia Marquez ’11 agreed, saying that “Orientation was rough when I first came, and I really found my family in my cultural groups… I went to Enlace and found people to mentor me, it was exciting for me to find that support and it’s important for me to pass that down.”

In response to the sudden change, Jaiman and others “organized an organic outburst of people.” Within a few hours, Flowers responded and proposed an IC open house as an immediate solution.

Marquez was glad that there was an open house and “we strategized the best way to get the word out… Dean Larimore announced it at the play and the diversity workshops. But the bigger issue is why was it taken away?”

Jaimain said the solution was “a band aid for a bigger problem. Ultimately, IC/BCC events need to be in orientation next year.”

Director of the Intercultural Center Rafael Zapata stressed that “This wasn’t done in any negative way… it was an issue of communication… I don’t think there was anything malicious, communication just broke down. My sense is that there was a solid rationale for the changes and what ended up happening was that those changes were not discussed or properly communicated.”

Unfortunately, Zapata said, “when it was changed without their knowledge, students didn’t know what to make of it.”

Flower’s rationale was that “we don’t want to advertise on individual group over another… the first opportunity, I feel like, is during the activities fair. That’s the fairest way to do it.”

Jaiman responded that “IC/BCC groups aren’t quite the same as ultimate [frisbee]… it’s about getting support that’s crucial during orientation week, a really stressful time.”

Marquez also pointed out the significance of inclusion in the orientation schedule.

“The institution is saying, we are creating these groups to support our students, and if you are going to have orientation, you have to support them institutionally at the orientation.”

However, Flowers does not intend to revert to the old model of the schedule. “I haven’t questioned the value of the importance of these groups… I just made some attempts where I could to make it work more effective… I’m very proud of the way the orientation committee worked, and I would like to hope when people opened the schedule that it was easier to read.”


  1. 0
    anonymous says:

    i would like to echo the sentiments that the ic/bcc groups are an incredibly important part of this campus community and are integral to the orientation schedule. however, as a clarifier the leadership in the ic/bcc has historically received e-mails about when they should register their events for orientation. this makes sense given the fact that while the groups are student run the larger umbrella organization of the ic and bcc are institutional and both have deans respectively. for this reason i believe it was the responsibility of either those deans or someone on the orientation planning committee to reach out to the groups as they had always done or at least inform them that there would be a change to the way thing have always been done. it less a matter of stepping up as much as being kept in the loop about decisions that deans and directors were making without the input or consultation of the students running the groups.

    also. i think it is far more important to have each of the cultural groups represented on the orientation schedule than to have a “clear” or more “organized” looking orientation schedule. the freshmen are swarthmore students as well… they can figure it out.

  2. 0
    Kate says:

    wow how did the rugby team get picked as the counterexample, lol. yikes. anyway. I think the BC/ICC groups ought to be more privileged than the rugby team… i’m speaking as former prez of the women’s rugby team, so don’t get me wrong in that it can be a support network, a great social network and a stress reliever, but you’ve got to be kidding yourself if you think the function of the rugby team parallels the role of the IC/BCC groups. I don’t think including an open house of the IC/BCC would be privileging the groups contained therein anyway..the intercultural center and black cultural center are places on campus that students need to know about. the rugby pitch, frankly, is less important.

    that said, I don’t think it seems like there was malicious intent on the part of anyone in omitting the events from the program. unfortunately ignorance of the vital role these groups can play in students’ lives is hardly excusable, and to place the intercultural center and black cultural center in the same category as other student groups just seems a bit silly to me and not in a good way. I think it sounds like a good compromise to at least include an IC/BCC open house. it is too bad that maybe the leadership in the ic and bcc will have to step up instead of being reached out to, but hopefully both sides can learn a bit from this misunderstanding and avoid it in the future.

  3. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The diversity groups probably don’t like me because I call out their bs a lot, but I agree that this would probably be a good idea to put on the schedule. I don’t necessarily think they need to be privileged above other groups (as I think the rugby team easily can be a source of support as well) but I think perhaps if you don’t want to clutter the main schedule there can just be a second schedule of every club meeting in the back of the schedule booklet. I know the activities fair exists, but it’s a bit of a mess and easy to miss things, and nobody really uses the calendar.swarthmore.edu as much as they should, so since those first meetings are critical to get on the mailing lists and such I see no reason the orientation schedule can’t have a section set off for club meetings.

  4. 0
    Jeff says:

    Religious and cultural groups are more than just “student groups”: they provide support structures that incoming students often badly need and don’t otherwise get during orientation. With that in mind, it doesn’t seem unfair to privilege them over say, the rugby team, which, while also a valuable activity, provides students with something very different.

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