Safety First

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.

A week and a half ago, as I walked past the train tracks and over to PPR, a boy no more than 12 years old approached me and cheerfully exclaimed, “Hi, my name is Billy!”

I awkwardly turned back and said, “Helloâ€Åš” but all I was really thinking was, “What the hell is wrong with this kid? Does he want to end up as a body-double on Law and Order, most likely the SVU edition? If I actually did creepy things as opposed to just saying creepy things in an online column, this boy would doubtless end up face first in a ditch around Crum Creek, not to be discovered until the next Regatta.”

This horrifically disturbing monologue that goes on in my head pretty much all of the time got me to thinking about safety on campus. For a long time the idea that the campus was its own cozy little bubble was taken for granted. Laptops were strewn about libraries, students stumbled drunkenly outdoors in their underwear, and nobody carried a 12 gauge shotgun on their person at all times.

Those days are gone, my friends. Gone! The outside community invades our closets, eats our cheese, robs us of our backpacks, steals our speaker wire, for some reason or other, and even raids our drunken, lower-SAT’d brethren. It must stop. It must stop!

Now, naturally when safety is at stake, the first thing we should do is give away most or all of our civil liberties. But if that still doesn’t work, what’s our next option?

Clearly, the problem is that we are just too darned friendly. Town-gown relations are not even close to being sufficiently strained. When a 12 year old boy feels comfortable enough with our community to be friendly and open, even offering personal information like his first name, something is wrong. That boy should be cowering in fear at the sight of a Swattie, curled up in the fetal position and hoping he won’t be noticed.

We must take action. Stop frequenting their co-operative supermarket. Stop partaking of their First Fridays. Stop interviewing their Finland-based salespeople. And for God’s sake, stop giving free money to the Chester Children’s Chorus!

We don’t need them to like us. We need them to fear us. The monolithic outsiders are picking on us because we are wusses, namby-pambies, Schwarzeneggerian girlie men. If we want respect, we need to toughen up. A Johns Hopkins student literally killed an intruder with a samurai sword! Would a Swattie ever do that? Let’s pump some iron and get intimidating.

We shouldn’t sheepishly wander into the ville every now and then for pizza. We should triumphantly march out every night in our newly formed street gang, singing, snapping, and dancing along, just like the real deal. We shouldn’t have a test to see if we can swim. We should have a test to see if we can jump over a shark in a motorcycle, while wearing leather jackets. We shouldn’t be displaying t-shirts across campus that reveal past trauma, while highlighting the resiliency of the human spirit. We should flaunt shirts that callously showcase our savagery and battle-readiness, as they drip with the blood of our enemies.

When little Billy is afraid to walk the streets, even in broad daylight, when strangers come to McCabe and leave behind their laptops, just because they “don’t want any trouble,” when wanderers warn their friends that Swarthmore College is a “bad neighborhood” with some “rough-and-tumble Interpretation Theory thugs,” we will finally be able to live in peace. After all, safety first.

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