Why Was Santa Claus On Campus Saturday?

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.

The Gazette heard from readers that someone in a Santa Claus costume was in the Amphitheater and Upper Tarble on Saturday night, and was asked to investigate. We heard only vague rumors that it was for a film class — other, that is, than this anonymous tip that Santa was in fact part of a far broader conspiracy.

Dear Swarthmore College’s Daily Gazette,

Regarding the recent sightings of Santa Claus on campus, I’ve come across privileged information that may prove indispensable for the student body. I believe that Santa’s seemingly benign appearances are merely a cover-up for a high-profile smuggling operation. Years ago, in an unprecedented rejection of Swarthmore’s conviction to respecting honesty and cultural integrity, the Swarthmore administration kidnapped approximately 150 elves from Santa’s primary toy station in the North Pole and forced them into servitude on campus as dining hall cooks. They were initially rebellious in the face of their captors, but the Swarthmore administration lulled them into complacency by forcibly converting the existing library into a dining hall, in 1964. The newly modified dining hall, which current students will recognize as none other than Sharples, proved to be magical and fanciful enough to evoke within the elves tender feelings of their faraway home.

Santa was infuriated by the capture of his beloved elves, and vowed revenge. However, to Santa’s great chagrin, he could not venture into public without rousing immense media attention. His presence on college campuses would be perceived even more strangely, as his associations were almost exclusively with small children and definitively not with disillusioned college students. Santa thus conspired with the heads of many national department stores in the hopes of flooding the world with veritable clones of himself so that he would be able to eventually travel freely without suspicion.

Through the 1970s, Santa’s ever-loyal elves, sensing that Santa was planning a massive recovery effort, began to grow restless in their confinement within Sharples. They began secretly fomenting propaganda about worker’s rights and the perils of cultural oppression on the Swarthmore napkin board, and Swatties, in turn, began campaigning for such ideals. The Swarthmore administration, ever suspicious of its elven population, promptly removed the elves from Sharples and disguised them as arboretum workers in the hopes of catering to their proclivities toward nature and their suspected magical healing powers. The elves proved exceptionally good at keeping the trees and plants healthy and beautiful, and as a result, the arboretum flourished.

Dissent erupted again at the turn of the century, when Department Store Santas were increasingly exposed to the media as pedophiles, deadbeats, and shams. Santa’s master plan began to fall apart, and the elves, growing restless, began actively trying to signal their whereabouts to Santa. They magically enlarged one of Swarthmore’s adirondack chairs to a size that could exclusively accommodate Santa, and they began breeding reindeer deep within the Crum woods in an effort to one day ride them back to the North Pole. Swarthmore responded to the magicked adirondack chair by removing it and claiming that it was ‘irreparably damaged by the collective weight of a group of students who tried to climb on it.’ Then, in 2009, Swarthmore began a massive deer cull to expunge the population of magical beasts from the Crum once and for all.

Elven efforts continued in the face of this opposition, and in 2005, they convinced the Arboretum office to paint a tree bright blue, a clear sign of magical activity, and as recently as this summer their efforts paid off again in the form of a bright red tree. The recent sightings of Santa on campus indicate that the elves’ signaling has finally paid off and that Santa is now aware that they are imprisoned here. It seems that Santa’s thirst for revenge lingers on, but he is not so rash as to rescue all of his elves at once. Swarthmore would likely advertise such an action to the media as a flagrant breach of cultural autonomy, and call to light the treacherous working conditions in Santa’s pre-industrial revolution toy factories.

Swarthmore students should remain very wary of militant elves throughout campus. Now that Santa has received media attention on Swathmore’s very campus, the elves have initiated an uprising. The first stage of their rebellion was observed last week: they have begun infecting the leaves of campus trees with a white substance that induces early death. Campus squirrels, long placated by magically-enhanced elven foliage, now find themselves in dire need of sustenance and are increasingly approaching students in an effort to acquire nourishment. While I cannot accurately predict what may come next, I suspect that the elves may step up their offensive and actively disable the chlorophyll production in campus plants, leading to the shutdown of photosynthesis and the eventual loss of green color in leaves and even the loss of the leaves themselves.

Any further sightings of Santa Claus on campus should be immediately reported to all appropriate administrative/public media venues, and students should remain on red-alert for suspicious campus activity, specifically of the magical variety.

Be safe, be vigilant, BEWARE.

– Your Concerned Informant

The Phoenix