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.
Dear Swarthmore Community,
I imagine many of you are aware of the minor firestorm the group Swarthmore Young America’s Foundation (SYAF) has ignited. I regret that this uproar has been, in part, because members like myself have not always embraced the best media tactics, and, in part, because controversies like these have a tendency to grow heads of their own.
We actually decided to call ourselves SYAF because, at the time, we assumed it might be more conducive to a heterogeneous campus such as Swarthmore. We considered the more traditional “College Republicans” route, and thought SYAF would provide us more plurality in not always abiding by strict party doctrine. We wanted the freedom to embrace libertarian candidates and fiscally-conservative Democrats as well.
For instance, I myself don’t think the United States government should be in the business of issuing marriage license to any couple, regardless of orientation. I embrace a civil-union styled government arrangement for all couples, and reserve marriage as a primarily religious ceremony. If folks want to belong to a denomination that embraces gay marriage, they will gravitate toward that particular church. If people do not wish to belong, they have the right to choose a different place of worship. If a church develops a reputation for being unabashedly intolerant, it may dry-up for lack of membership. Free market of the spirit, you might say.
To clarify, the national YAF does not sponsor specific campus groups. Rather, it encourages students to be politically active and embrace national YAF resources when appropriate or desirable. Our group, we realize, should not have labeled itself as SYAF. This implies we are in lockstep with the Washington-based group, which is not the case. Although we maintain that YAF is a respectable organization, other group-members and I cannot, truthfully, envision ourselves endorsing and defending every one of their platforms.
With good reason, many Swatties have referred to the YAF website and then desired to know how the Swarthmore group, SYAF, actually felt on these important issues. Suddenly, SYAF found itself deep in a quagmire that was far stickier than it looks. While we stand by our frustrations at the censoring of posters, we recognize that some of these posters took on a connotation we were unprepared to defend. To set the record straight, the poster some interpreted as implicating progressives in Stalin-styled murder were taken out of context from a Freedom Week initiative which never got off the ground. We certainly don’t feel all or even most liberals are remotely responsible for such deplorable totalitarian actions. We comprehend why students saw these flyers as problematic. Trust us when we say innuendo and fear-mongering is not our agenda.
We plan to soon contact Student Council and request that our group’s name be changed to the “Swarthmore Conservatives”. We love democracy, history, low taxes, and the constitution, and we’re confident those loves can find a niche and a discourse here at Swat. As for the national YAF, it offers excellent opportunities, like tickets to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. However, no where does it stipulate we must subscribe to its entire philosophy, and we never planned that that would be the case.
Now, by changing our name to the “Swarthmore Conservatives” our independence and admiration for the unique and nurturing Swarthmore atmosphere will be much clearer. Here’s to a dose of diplomatic discourse!
— Danielle Charette ’14
Swarthmore Young America’s Foundation