Prospective Student Overheard Exotifying Arboretum

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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.

An Admissions Office tour guide reported hearing a prospective student make an exotifying remark about the Scott Arboretum during a Thursday morning tour. The student remained on campus for the rest of the tour but, according to the guide, “there’s no way she missed the raised eyebrows from the rest of the group … . Or maybe she did.”

“We don’t want to repeat what was overheard on Thursday,” Dean of Students Biz Laun said in an email to the campus community on Friday, “But we all must try and understand that the dogwoods near the Friends Meeting House were particular beautiful this week.”

According to Admissions Dean Bim Jock, staff members in the Admissions Office have reported hearing similarly exotifying statements in the past, especially in the spring months.

“From a high school junior saying, ‘There are roses everywhere,’ to his parents snapping a picture of the bamboo grove, visiting students tend to forget that Swarthmore’s campus is a environment in which people must live everyday,” Jock said, “There’s definitely a lot of romanticizing that happens here.”

Beau Utiffle-Kampos ’15, a head tour guide for the Admissions Office, shared a similar concern. “I’ve even heard people saying that they feel like they’re on vacation during campus tours,” Utiffle-Kampos said. “This is no vacation,” she added.

Iwryte Allot ‘13, a sociology and anthropology major who is writing a thesis tentatively titled “Fantastic Admissions: Swarthmore’s Mystification in the Contemporary Public Imagination,” said that she tries to look for the positive when she hears remarks about Swarthmore’s lavishly floral campus. “I just tell myself that I’m really lucky to be here, that the sunset over the bell tower actually is beautiful.”


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