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.
Though Haverford students were shocked and appalled when they discovered feces in Gummere basement in mid-September, not much thought was given to the possibility of such an event happening again. Unfortunately, history repeated itself.
Last Saturday night, fecal matter was once again found in Gummere, this time on the stalls and mirrors of the bathroom in Gummere 1/1.
The first occurrence was largely thought to be a rude, disgusting joke. However, the repetition raises new concerns.
“This is a cry for help and we want the person to get some help,” said Dean of the College Greg Kannerstein ’63.
In light of these incidents, Dean for First-Year Students Raisa Williams sent a letter to Customs People and Upper Class Advisors asking them to speak with their freshmen and make sure they are doing okay. Kannerstein said Williams has received a couple of responses, but none have identified anybody as the culprit of the fecal smearing.
SC Co-President Will Harrison ’10 said that President Dr. Stephen G. Emerson ’74 told him that township police would probably be contacted if another such incident were to occur. He said that the administration would also consider DNA testing on the feces.
Students on the Go! Boards have expressed outrage that someone would repeatedly disrespect the residents of Gummere in such a vile and unsanitary manner. Some have suggested that the perpetrator might be experiencing emotional difficulties.
“The person who’s doing this probably has problems,” said SC Co-President Harrison Haas ’10.
Director of Psychological Services Rick Webb understands the reaction of the community, but points out that no one except the person responsible has the whole truth.
“I hope that others will join me in appealing to the person who is responsible to seek out someone who he or she feels has a good heart for listening,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Bi-College News. “I would welcome the opportunity to talk to the person in a confidential way about his or her feelings and the complicated dilemma to which these feelings have led.”
The repeated transgressions likely have the most significant impact on students living in Gummere.
“It’s certainly unsettling to have something like this happen in your home,” Dean of Student Life Steve Watter said. “We want people to feel safe in their living environment.”
Gummere Dorm President Raul Lazo ’12 called a meeting for residents on Thursday. He expressed appreciation for housekeeping and explained a few possible precautions that could be taken in the future.
One option was to require all people throwing parties in Gummere Basement to use Quaker Bouncers for surveillance. Another idea was to set up trash cans blocking the entrances to the halls.
On a larger scale, Director of Safety and Security Tom King is closely monitoring the situation. Because of its size, Gummere creates logistical issues for security.
King said it would take many incidents before getting to a point where Gummere would be singled out for a different access policy.
King has confidence in the students to come together and fix this injustice.
“In my nine years here, I’ve seen that, when they have true concern for an issue, it’s the students themselves that ensure that things get sorted out,” he said.