Collection Challenges Swatties to Talk Together, Not Apart

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.


After this weekend’s student-organized gatherings, which brought a number of campus issues to the fore of the community consciousness, Dean of Students Liz Braun invited everyone—students, faculty, and staff—to a last-minute collection Monday in the amphitheater.

There, several hundred students took turns speaking, in a Quaker style, to the emerging conversation. Interfaith Coordinator  Joyce Tompkins opened the collection along with Wellness Coordinator Satya Nelms. The two held out the promise of community–an elusive goal that many Swatties are still struggling to find amongst themselves. Tompkins began with a bit of history about Swarthmore’s founding Quakers.

Nelms made a request for students to see the best possible intentions in others, but this seemed one of the more difficult challenges of the collection. As student speakers were each handed the microphone, they wrestled with issues of allyship and friendship, oppression and support.

Later, students dining in Sharples had opportunities to sit and eat with faculty and staff members and talk about many of the things on their minds.


  1. Monday was by far my proudest day as a Swattie. We as a whole community were able to come together in a really meaningful way thanks to the effort of some amazing student-activists as well as the compromise between the activists and administrators.

    Much of the success of the Collection, though, was the result of the discussions that happened in Parrish, which were very productive and goal-oriented, and a genuine community effort. Besides being good work in their own right, those discussions “got something done” so that students and others were able to focus on the social and emotional side of things in the Collection.

    We’re so fortunate to have folks who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make things like this happen, as well as all those who share things that aren’t easy to say.

    The real test of all this, though, won’t come until next semester, when those who haven’t graduated will have their work cut out for them.

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