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.
Administrators, students, and faculty gathered at Collection last Friday to respond to recent hate speech chalkings.
In comparison with the previous Collection, students expressed desire for a plan of action that involved large-scale public collection and solidarity.
“For the first time I’m scared,” said Rose Pitkin ’14.
Pitkin thanked Braun and Chopp and Director of Public Safety Michael Hill for the immediacy in which the incident was reported.
Expressing a frustration with “Swarthmorian exceptionalism,” students pointed to the online discussions and noted that the community can no longer insist hate-speech “doesn’t happen here” or that “Swatties don’t do that.”
Many called for action and looked to the example of Williams College, where classes were canceled after an incident of hate speech.
“These tremors we keep feeling from hate are part of a structure that we are walking on and we choose not to look down” said Kenneson Chen ’14. “For me, it goes back to growing up in a place that was not tremors but shakes.”
Chen and other students sent a letter to Chopp and Braun, urging the administration to give a highly visible campus address.
Professor of History Allison Dorsey called on the faculty to engage in the work of teaching diversity in the classroom.
“We have a veneer of civility at Swarthmore,” said Dorsey. “The only way we’re going to get at that is by getting at other aspects of our life in a series of conversations,” she said.
Dorsey went on to paraphrase June Jordan, “It was time for progressive forces to stop being shocked because it slows you down.”
Braun said plans are moving forward on re-imagining the diversity workshops, providing opportunities for extending conversations throughout the year, and working to bring bystander training to campus. A Diversity Inclusion and Implementation Committee has been formed that will assess what it means to be a diverse community.
In response to voices from Friday’s Collection, President Rebecca Chopp and Dean of Students Liz Braun are hosting an all campus gathering on Parrish lawn today from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
This morning, Chopp urged the community to gather in solidarity and praised the response efforts already underway.
“A threat made against any of us is a threat against all of us, and it will take all of us coming together to address these issues,” wrote Chopp in an email. “I have confidence in our collective ability to provide the support necessary for each other when faced with these difficult circumstances, and to ensure our environment is safe and supportive for everyone.”