President, Shaun Kelly

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.

Greetings to all. I am Shaun Kelly ’10, and I am running for the office of Student Council President. We face an environment that promises to pose a number of challenges in the near future. Primarily, the Swarthmore community faces a dismal economy and must attempt to insulate the student body as well as the faculty from its effects. While considering whether or not to make a bid for I reflected on the following personal qualities, which I am convinced are necessary to the office of Student Council President:

First, the new president must not be afraid to innovate and find new ways to accomplish old goals. The new president must not be afraid to reach out, to listen not only to those who take the initiative to speak up, but to solicit ideas from those less heard from. The new president must represent the interests of all groups on campus, and as liaison to the Board of Managers must see to it that IC/BCC groups have the access and information that they need.

Second, the new president must not make changes for the sake of change. Our Student Council has accomplished much recently, ranging from the extension of library hours last year to the improved menu at Sharples very recently. The trajectory is mostly good, and the next president should be a faithful steward of those measures that work while keeping an eye toward further progress.

Third, the new president must work closely with new College President and Public Safety to attend to the security threats that face the College annually. Just this year, golf carts have been vandalized, valuables have been stolen from our dorms and libraries, and students do not always feel as safe as they should at parties or walking alone at night. The new president should work with the new administration to improve lighting in a number of problem areas on campus.

Finally and most importantly, it seems to me that the new president must have unsurpassed dedication to the position. The post of Student Council President must not play second fiddle to any other club or initiative that the president may otherwise have held in high import. These are not times that allow for mistakes, and to prevent them a president must be always vigilant and willing to research, learn and deliberate.
When I considered whether or not to run, I evaluated whether or not I could measure up to these expectations. I am convinced that I can. I must now convince you.

First, I have already started progress towards my goal to hear ideas from all corners of campus. I have met with members of many groups to have conversations about the situations facing them. These meetings have been wonderful in understanding Swarthmore in a fuller understanding of the needs of the Swarthmore Community. As president, I would continue to have personal meetings with members of every group on campus such that I could better understand the initiatives and goals of our creative group of individuals. Furthermore, I would ensure that each and every campus leader would have my personal cell phone number in case they might want to talk or have an impromptu conversation. This would allow for a level of openness and connection between Student Council and the student body that Student Council has been working toward over many cycles.

Second, I will take steps to bolster relations between campus groups and Student Council. I will work to ensure that council continues to include the opinions of all communities on campus, making sure that students of color, LGBTQ students, NOTA students, and students of political and ideological minorities are well represented. Events held by groups on campus should attended by at least one member of student council, and I will push for that to happen. I will look to make council a resource for students who have great ideas but do not know where to find the funding to make them a reality. There is funding all over campus earmarked for various types of events and activities, but understanding the bureaucracy can be intimidating at times. Student Council should become the bridge between idea and reality.

Third, I have investigated the areas on campus that appear to be especially poorly lit. With a map of said problem areas, I would like to bring together Public Safety, the administration, and SMART counselors, amongst others, to find ways to make the campus safer. Along these lines, I want to hold a meeting with the current residents of Woolman, Kyle, PPR, and Mary Lyons in particular to assess the experiences of those students’ travels and to determine what, if any, steps must be taken to ensure that all students on campus feel safe.

Finally, I will make the office of Student Council President and the job of representing your interests and concerns to the administration my sole focus for my senior year. Certainly, the push of the Swarthmore academic semester is not to be underestimated, but my energies will be focused on finding ways for our campus to remain the best in the nation. By establishing a fruitful working relationship with President Chopp and the Board of Managers, by reaching out to students of every community, and by building upon the good work of the present council, I hope to become the president that you deserve.


  1. Hey all. If you like what you've read, or if you want to know more, please check out my Facebook group, "Shaun Kelly for Student Council President."

  2. "Events held by groups on campus should attended by at least one member of student council, and I will push for that to happen."

    That's a good idea.

  3. This is a really good platform Shaun! You truly have a thought out and organized blueprint with ways to make Swarthmore greater than it already is. I have seen first hand your sincere commitment to listening to the opinions of different students on campus and wish you the best of luck in your campaign.

  4. Thanks for your kind words. I urge you all to please come to the debate on Wednesday night at 6:30 (Kohlberg Coffee Bar) and engage us both with your questions.

  5. In one of her addenda to her platform Rachel said, "I will work on initiatives focusing on… recourse for incidents of sexual assault. While I believe there are many sources of support for victims [sic]* of the latter, many find the college's lack of definite policy for the perpetrators to be frustrating. I would like to work with the Deans on improving this situation." I think this is really critical, and you did cover a lot of similar things. Would you take initiative on the lack of concrete policy as well?
    *Survivors is the appropriate, empowering term for people who have survived sexual assault.

  6. I would definitely work with the College to help establish a more concrete policy for perpetrators of sexual assault. The type of policy rendered would need to be nuanced, however, to allow for the many circumstances under which sexual assault occur. The emotional health and physical well-being of survivors must be taken into consideration, in addition to the many legal issues involved, when establishing a coherent policy; flexibility in such a policy will be key so that it can effectively address every case.

  7. I would definitely work with the College to help establish a more concrete policy for perpetrators of sexual assault. The type of policy rendered would need to be nuanced, however, to allow for the many circumstances under which sexual assault occur. The emotional health and physical well-being of survivors must be taken into consideration, in addition to the many legal issues involved, when establishing a coherent policy; flexibility in such a policy will be key so that it can effectively address every case.

  8. Sorry about the double post. The connection must have been slow.

    I do want to address the fact, however, that while working with Survivors is key, we must also focus ourselves as a community to eradicate sexual assault on campus altogether. I look forward to working with ASAP, SMART, and Sexual Health Counselors to find ways to expand the discussion regarding the dangers of sexual assault, its causes, and practices that will increase prevention. I think that by continuing that communication, we can make positive change together.

  9. How many events do you attend regularly? Do you think that next year, as a senior AND handling the responsibilities of president, you will be able to significantly increase your attendance at lectures, panels, info sessions, and events? Since this is your idea, presumably much of the burden of following through will be on you. But, for example, this week there were 2 lectures on Monday, 2 lectures and a panel on Tuesday, 2 lectures and a panel on Wednesday, 2 lectures on Thursday, and at least 2 lectures, 2 performances and a large fundraising event (Mr. Swat) on Friday. That's at least 15 events. How many of them have you attended/do you plan on attending? Is this really a reasonable idea, or just something that sounds appealing as part of a campaign?

    (I realize this question may sound snarky- that is not my intent, because I think it's a good idea, just not one that is realistic)

  10. Shaun didn't say that he was personally going to attend EVERY event. Nowhere in this platform does he come close to even suggesting that. All Shaun is saying is that student council as a body should be more visible in attending campus events. Does it seem unreasonable for each member of SC to attend 1 event? After all, it's very likely that many of these events would be attended by SC members anyway. This proposal seems very wise to me. After all, shouldn't a governing body be knowledgeable on the subjects of its decisions? Seems like a well thought out proposal to me.

  11. It will certainly not be easy to attend every event on campus, and it would be impossible for me to personally attend every event, as they often conflict in time. I do plan on making more time for my role as StuCo president should I be elected by changing around my academic commitments. I will hold myself accountable for making StuCo more visible on campus.

    As to your more specific question, I am attending the I20 discussion this evening (Wendesday) in Kohlberg and will be attending the Deshi Ride The Tide event tomorrow (Thursday) evening. Friday evening is still in question, but when I work that out, I can post it if people are interested. All are welcome to join me!

  12. your political views seem rather divergent from the majority of views on campus. student council president isn't an activist job, but how can you claim to represent the majority of student interests when your values are so different from those of the majority of campus? can you elaborate on this issue a bit?

    Forgive me if my assumption is wrong, but you did intern at an anti-abortion nonprofit and you are a facebook member of a students for mccain group.

  13. Since when was a student's political beliefs an indicator of his or her credentials and enthusiasm for a job? Shame on you "hmm" for suggesting that Shaun would be a lesser candidate because of his alleged anti-abortion beliefs or preference for President of the United States. I would be absolutely disgusted if my fellow Swatties decided their StuCo President the same way you seem to have.

  14. Hmm, if a member of the soccer team was running for President, would you say that he could not represent the student body because he was an athlete (unlike most Swatties)?

  15. Shaun I really hope you win. As I watched the debate, I really felt that StuCo portrayed itself as an exclusive group and that the members in it don't want new people to have a chance to have their voices heard. Good luck!

  16. Claire,
    I apologize if I gave off that impression; I thought since all of the candidates for the four other positions (Financial Policy, Campus Life, Student Groups, and Educational Policy) are not members at the moment, it would go without saying that there will be "new blood" in the group with fresh ideas, and whose voices have not been heard. That was what was in my head, and I am really sorry if that did not translate into how I acted or how I spoke. Exclusive is the last thing I want people to think of when they hear about Student Council, and I thought I had emphasized that as a big part of my platform. If you noticed StuCo members fraternizing before and after the debate, I think that is just because we have become a lot closer throughout the semester.
    I personally believe it is useful to have someone with experience or at least has been to a meeting to be president and to see if that is what he/she really wants to do.
    Again, I apologize, and I still respect your opinion if what I just wrote does not change it.

  17. Claire,

    I appreciate your support. I hope to change any perceptions that Council is still removed from student life, and I think that Rachel would work to ensure the same goal. Thanks for coming out and being a part of the discussion.

  18. True 'Shame' that a "student's political beliefs" are not always "an indicator of his or her credentials and enthusiasm for a job." But 'hmmm' has a point with some of Shaun's facebook commitments.

    IC/BCC members might be interested in one of Shaun's favorite quotes, by Chesterton, "Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions."

    Of course, this could just be an isolated anti-conformist quip of a philosophy major. But, after further facebook snooping, we start to see a narrative come together that's seemingly antithetical to the campus community, as well as President Chopp.

    Shaun, perhaps I am making too much of your facebook page, but in the context of Shame’s concerns about political belief, I see that you are fan boy of Alasdair MacIntyre. This name won't ring a bell for Swatties unless they're into moral philosophy or social criticism. But it's important that Swatties do know, since this is a world-view that will affect how Shaun goes about as StuCo President representing our school.

    Below is a summary of MacIntyre's (and Stanley Hauerwas’s closely related) position. In addition, there are some pretty incisive criticisms made by a scholar named Jeff Stout. (By the way, Stout is friends with Chopp and writes about her in Democracy and Tradition; check it out). In essence, MacIntyre sees democratic pluralism (ensuring, you know, that each person has a voice in the public sphere) as a waste of time. Make of it what you will, but this is a sticking point for me.


    MacIntyre is a “new traditionalist,” a thinker who proclaims that American democracy lacks the moral values it needs to sustain a righteous way of life. For MacIntyre, the secularized, pluralistic nature of our modern society—which he equates to the “liberal projects” of thinkers like John Rawls—inhibits all possibility of a functioning ethical tradition. In After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, MacIntyre traces the corruption of ethics back to Enlightenment liberalism’s rejection of “the tradition of the virtues,” a coherent ethical basis from which humans once directed their moral compasses (DT, 122). MacIntyre believes that this “tradition of the virtues” has been destroyed by liberalism’s desire to rid society of all virtue-tradition; modern liberalism, he claims, wants to eliminate tradition in order to achieve the perspective of universal human reason.

    To illustrate his contention that tradition is being corrupted by democratic liberalism, MacIntyre writes a spectacularly vivid description of the state of ethics within liberal modernity. In his 1981 book After Virtue, MacIntyre uses colorful rhetoric to illustrate the tragic fall of the “tradition of the virtues,” employing a scientific epistemological catastrophe as a metaphor. MacIntyre’s metaphor implies that the ethical discourse of our society consists of scattered pieces, which pertain to a once coherent ethical tradition that we will never be able to ‘piece back’ together. Our modern liberal democracy literally exists ‘after virtue,” diametrically opposed to a coherent, pre-modern ethical tradition that has all but disappeared (AV 1-5). This can be seen by the fact that current liberal society is caught in a tangled web of competing, but equally compelling, truth claims (DT, 123). The upshot of MacIntyre’s narrative is that as long as our moral fabric is fragmented—due to our society’s pluralism—we will be left with little hope for a means with which we can hold intelligible ethical conversation with one another.

    Stout’s Democracy and Tradition levels a number of criticisms against MacIntyre and Hauerwas’s anti-liberal traditionalism. First, MacIntryre and Hauerwas ignore why modern secularization—which they see as “liberal fragmentation”—happened in the first place: “When high levels of agreement on metaphysics or on a complete theory of the good life could not be achieved through rational argument, some parties used coercion…Others, however, tried to hammer out a way of thinking and talking about ethical issues that did not presuppose theological agreement” (DT, 127). Stout wants to argue that modern society departed from a coherent (Christian) “tradition of the virtues” in order to accommodate democratic pluralism. “Liberal secularization” was necessary to allow many different groups the ability to have a voice in the public sphere.

    Second, Stout observes that both men encounter problems in their “point of view.” MacInyre and Hauerwas have trouble accounting for the creation of the anti-liberal argument itself: “[Because] traditionalism itself belongs to modern ethical discourse, and could not have sprung out of nowhere, it is bound to have trouble accounting for itself without abandoning its contention that Cobbett and Austen were without modern heirs” (DT, 134). Both men find themselves talking about modern-day ethical decadence in particularly ethical terms, which makes it hard for them to account for the existence of their antiliberal argument in the first place; they essentially argue that a “tradition of the virtues” does not exist in modern-day society, while they debate from that very position. For Stout, MacIntyre and Hauerwas give an inadequate explanation of how their argument has survived such a powerfully fragmented liberal world.

    Third, Stout believes that MacIntyre and Hauerwas mischaracterize American democracy as “the liberal project” and as “anti-traditional.” They want to conform all of what they dislike in democratic society to John Rawls' political liberalism. Stout argues, however, that Rawls mistakenly characterizes America as “liberal;” the phrase “liberal society” is too simple a term to describe such a complex system of public and private institutions. Hence, because both respond to Rawls, Stout believes that they argue against an inaccurate definition of contemporary society. Finally, insomuch as the two men mischaracterize society, Stout notes that MacIntyre and Hauerwas’s anti-liberal shtick creates an erroneous wedge between democracy and tradition. For Stout, modern American democracy is also a tradition, holding together an ethical system of enduring democratic “attitudes, concerns, dispositions, and patterns of conduct” which its citizens incessantly seek to perfect (DT, 3).

  19. Hah, tolerance. That's a laugh. Swatties are tolerant? Just look at hmmm's comments. Swatties are NOT tolerant. They are tolerant only of those they agree with.

    Props to Shaun and Rachel for wanting to lead a broad set of constituencies, whom (surprise!) they don't all belong to or necessarily agree with.

  20. Can somebody explain to me why a candidate's take on political issues or candidates that have nothing to do with campus life ought to matter in the consideration of a candidate? Seems the very height of irrelevance to me. I voted for Obama, and did it happily and as a member of the Democratic Party, but that doesn't give me the slightest bit of pause when it comes to my intent to vote for Shaun because, frankly, positions on national candidates and issues have little to do with how a given candidate can handle matters on this campus.

    As for "Concerned Emersonian Democrat," your (apparently willful?) misquoting of what "Shame on you" had to say makes, for me at least, your rendering of this whole MacIntyre/Hauerwas/Stout business seem dubious in terms of accurate reportage. More importantly, it's quite a stretch as far as extrapolation goes, since I don't think either you or I can really presume what Shaun might find in MacIntyre to like.

    I don't think anyone can really get an impression of either candidate from their Facebook page – quotes, group memberships, photos, any of it – to try to build a complete picture of Shaun or Rachel from what scraps they've put online is a foolhardy business. The internet is not a place in which you can get a sense of a person's real warmth, their ability to sit down in a room with somebody to come to an understanding and get things done, their dedication to a task once undertaken. Sure, you can get snippets of information from Facebook, but don't presume to know somebody from it.

    So let's throw these big political irrelevancies aside. In this election, all politics really is local. Do what's best for Swarthmore.

  21. to quote Concerned Emersonian Democrat

    "Shaun, perhaps I am making too much of your facebook page."

    Haha…. It's truly ridiculous to see how people take facebook too seriously.

  22. I see my satire needs some serious (or perhaps not?) work. A summary pasted from an old seminar paper? Really?

    The MacIntyre/Stout/Hauerwas debate, nonetheless, is interesting. Check it out. Both copies of After Virtue and Democracy and Tradition are on the Honors Moral Philosophy shelf.

  23. @CED,
    Yeah, the problem is there are plenty of people here whose posts are at least, if not more, ridiculous than yours. We probably SHOULD write their posts off as absurd satire too, but that'll just make them more angry, so we've reached a point where we must take everything seriously and try our best to explain why it's so very, very stupid.

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