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Letter To The Editor: A Call for Student Power

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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.

Letter submitted by Swarthmore Overlaps

The “campus community” is sinking into amnesia. Already several weeks into the semester, and sporadic efforts to continue the work for institutional and cultural change have fallen short of the May mobilizations’ energy. Backlash and opposition build up from the Board of Managers and some of our fellow students, who tend to characterize “the activists” as monolithic and unwilling to engage with others. We feel the need to insist that this is a lie. Meanwhile, the incoming class is left stranded in vague references to the spring, scattered conversations on allyship, and no real sense of how to move forward. We feel the need to pass on our experiences to new students. In other words:

Enough revisionism and falsehood — this is our history and our truth!

This semester’s issue of Overlaps (coming to you in print this week) was compiled entirely in May by many of the graduated members of our diffuse and divergent activist communities, in their efforts to do the work of creating institutional memory right in the middle of their Senior Week. Recognizing the overlapping and convergent nature of the protests, the writing in this issue demonstrates that while the “activists” are never one unitary group or community, we were able to come together in coalitions and speak truth to power. This truth has been sitting in a folder for long enough now.

We would like to introduce this issue of Overlaps with some questions and suggestions. As we’ve re-acclimated to being at Swarthmore, we’ve asked ourselves, our friends, and our communities: how do we move forward? How do we use the events of the spring as a springboard for ongoing action? How do we take what we did last semester and use it to learn how to be more productive, resilient, thoughtful, communicative, and united in our struggles here? How can we, as students striving to make Swarthmore (and the world) a better place, with all our different backgrounds, viewpoints, agendas, and values, support each other, instead of organizing in ways that conflict with one another?

The rush of organizing that happened last spring ordered itself around boiling points. Enough painful, disempowering, explicitly bigoted and oppressive things happened that enough people dropped their homework for long enough to make this campus feel like a vulnerable place for everyone. All these factors aligned in a way that enabled (or forced) us to put our heads together, to approach the injustices in our social, political, and academic environment with the same rigor, determination, and passion that we normally apply to discussing social justice issues in our classes. We worked really fucking hard. We cried. We yelled. We were hurt, motivated, inspired, and sad, and we got together with our various groups and we got together in big messier uncohesive and often-conflict-ridden coalition spaces, and we organized. We organized to make noise. We organized to disrupt the normal operations of this college – in classrooms, in party spaces, in public spaces, in administrative, bureaucratic spaces. We organized forums in which to express our experiences, our values and beliefs to the people who seem not to have heard them (not to have heard us; not to have heard our predecessors). We disrupted a Board of Managers meeting because the issues that were literally keeping us awake at night (for many nights, and weeks, in a row) were not being addressed by the power holders of this institution. We even organized – sigh – multiple forums for “constructive dialogue” and discussions, and pushed for more of them in the future. We wrote, spoke, argued, commented, Liked, down-Liked, voted, signed.

Then, summer came. We went back to our home states and countries. We traveled. We worked. We interned. We rested, breathed, nourished ourselves and our communities, let ourselves be taken care of in spaces that sometimes seemed safer than the one we left and sometimes seemed a whole lot worse. Immersed ourselves in worlds that, while overlapping in so many atrocious ways with the one we live in at Swarthmore, still felt incomparable, removed, and distant. Three months passed. Some of us read and wrote e-mails to one another, making plans, scheming and dreaming about how to follow-up a spring of such disorienting, disempowering, and occasionally surprisingly liberating, events. Some of us stuck together and lived, worked, or organized around similar issues to the ones that were being navigated in the spring. But lots of us didn’t. Lots of us slept, watched stupid amounts of Arrested Development, made our way through the stacks of art magazines, zines, and sci-fi novels that we had stockpiled over the course of the semester, and tried to forget how quickly three months pass by.

We came back in September wearing the same shoes we wore in May, only to find that the terrain was all different. A quarter of our friends, comrades, haters, and commentators were gone. A couple hundred new and painfully hopeful faces seemed to be everywhere, everywhere reminders of how much work would need to be done to bring “the community” closer to being on the same page about how important all of these issues were and are for us. It turned out that what was enough to bring us together in struggle in April and May was not enough to sustain our energies and our passion into the autumn.

Many of us are already burnt-out from the first 6 weeks of school, and the weight of the weeks to come is heavy, draining, exhausting, and sometimes disillusioning to our belief that we can, in fact, effect change here. At the same time, though, we ask ourselves, what would it feel like to bide our time, waiting for another boiling point, another crisis, to force us to make this work a daily, living priority? It might feel like a betrayal to the commitment that each of us continues to hold, a commitment to our communities, our friends (those here and elsewhere), and the campaigns, movements, and actions we have participated in over the course of our time here. It might feel like deferring the dream of student power we could almost touch just a short semester ago.

“Student power” can be a too-broad, too-hefty, and sometimes too jargon-y phrase for what we’d like to see ourselves work towards this semester and in the semesters to come. In spite of these pitfalls, we think that past movements that have placed themselves under the umbrella of “student power” can offer helpful frameworks for us to think about the task(s) that lie ahead of us. A common trend that we have seen – over the long history of student engagement with administrative powers at Swarthmore, and over the much shorter but no less rich history of our own engagements with the admin and the Board – is a constant return to a state of disempowerment, no matter how much of a “win” a campaign or movement may have celebrated. A visual example of this, borrowed from “For Student Power”:

Instead, we want our organizing to build on the histories that came before us, to build off of our own experiences, and to create foundations for future activists to work from. To quote the article: “We want the activism and organizing we did last week/month/semester to act as another foothold to support the work we’re doing right now. That’s crucial no matter where you’re organizing, but especially when you’re organizing in an institution that has 100% turnover every four years. That’s where structural demands come in. By chipping away at concentrated power, we gain more access to the levers of power, and more avenues for strategic action open up.” We want our campus campaigns to graph out more like this:

There are hundreds of ways to organize on a college campus, and campus activism doesn’t always take the form of discrete campaigns, as these graphs suggest. We believe that a diversity of strategy is necessary to chip away at the power structures that prevent us from living in the ways we want, and that render our futures untenable. We offer our thoughts on student power as one possible way (one of many!) of moving forward as a so-called “student coalition,” in action as well as in name: through framing our demands in ways that challenge the very structures that Swarthmore is founded on.

If we view our work through a lens of student power, it becomes clear that we cannot win any of our various demands (which include, but are not limited to, demands for: institutional accountability; student involvement at all levels of College governance; support for students of color; support for survivors of sexual assault; divestment from fossil fuel extraction companies…) by “any means necessary.” If we win through closed-door agreements, prolonged bureaucratic debates in sub-sub-Committees of the Board, or processes that refuse to openly address student interests, we will not consider ourselves successful. Wins such as these do not create spaces for future student involvement and engagement – if anything, students burn out and grow tired of “engagement” after years of seemingly useless work through institutional channels, and the channels available to students often constrict in response to “wins.”

Sometimes it may make sense to put energy into Board meetings, one-on-ones with administrators, and work in committees – when it seems potentially transformative. But sometimes those processes feel futile, and we can empower ourselves to think beyond those structures, and think into the creation of alternate structures for student engagement and for getting our voices into the decision-making room. How can we create spaces for student voices to be heard that are both empowering and effective at conveying our demands? How can the work that we do put into pursuing institutional channels be geared towards changing the decision-making processes and the power structures of those institutions? How can we organize against injustice in our communities through structures that model what we want to see in the world? These are the kinds of questions that guide a student power-based strategy.

We have to work with who we are right now – and what that means in terms of our comfort levels with different approaches to shifting power. What we are certain of is that we don’t want to win in ways that compromise our identities and leave us feeling disempowered and burned out. Our organizing must be as impassioned as it is strategic; it must build on past organizing work while welcoming the shifting desires that we experience in the present. We have to be more creative, collaborative, and confrontational than the systems and structures that we oppose. As we move forward into this era of our discontent, we want Overlaps to be a space where the triumphantly emotional spirit that lingers on from May will be celebrated.

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak”

— Gaston Bachelard

Correction, 10/22/2013: An earlier version of this letter incorrectly attributed the closing quote to Seamus Heaney.

103 Comments

  1. Why do you sigh when you mention “constructive dialog,” and why do you feel the need to put it in scare quotes?

    • Because constructive dialogue is a phrase that has frequently been used by the administration to avoid taking actions or even taking a firm stand against injustices on this campus.

    • In this case I believe that the scare quotes are used because the author feels that the events called constructive dialog were more reactionary measures, and the “constructive” parts of the protest (those that caused change) were not these. For instance, filing complaints against the school, carrying out chalkings, printing flyers showing the desecration of the IC, rallying in front of Sharples, were never deemed constructive dialog, but were in fact those that effected change.

      In other words; this is to say that the events labelled “constructive dialogs” are not perceived by all students to be the method by which change actually occurs.

      • Just because they caused change doesn’t make all of those activities you mentioned constructive. A large part of the issue I had with student activism last semester was that the push for change was a sometimes an overly destructive force which ended up pushing a lot of swarthmore students out of the dialogue.

    • Because constructive dialog is often anything but; when one of the participants has the power to ignore anything brought up in those meetings, it is not constructive and not dialog.

    • I think scarce quotes and sighs of (exasperation?) are a legitimate treatment of “constructive” dialog. I think the point has been beaten to death last semester at how constructive dialog insinuates a synthesis if you will of equally positioned, sides. This was not the case. When the point of constructive dialog was to reconcile differences, it erased the possibility of meaningful engagement of differences. When those differences carried racial, gendered, and sexualized ramifications, constructive dialog engendered a feeling of powerlessness in students whose stake in the dialog extended beyond the abstract and theoretical.

      When the IC was pissed on, I could only talked to so many people who didn’t think the incident was racist based on their belief in the intentions of the perpetrators, before I myself shut down. For whom was the dialog constructive? Was there a middle point where my own feelings that the pissing was racist and another’s feeling that it wasn’t could meet? Was the point of dialog to convince either myself or the other person that the pissing was or wasn’t racist? My stake in this dialog was my own feeling of safety. The validity of my belief in the racist nature of the pissing was based on this stake. Constructive dialog, to me, presumes that certain opinions and ideas are just as equally valid or else it wouldn’t ask that I engage others as if we were on equal footing.

      This is why I personally sigh when I hear constructive dialog, why I too feel the need to put scarce quotes as to constantly remind that it isn’t perfect and without flaws. I am not affiliated with SwatOverlaps. This is just my opinion.

    • I’m not involved in Overlaps, but I’ll take a stab at it-
      The ideal of constructive dialog as the only way to make progress has a lot of issues, that vary depending on how it is applied. I’m going to generalize the idea a little more than it was intended in the context of the article.

      Those in power almost invariably appeal to constructive dialogs when change is called for. It is a safe medium where current power relations are retained. It is also one that legitimizes all opinions, however irrational. (Not entirely unlike the way media has a habit of presenting climate change deniers as having arguments equally legitimate to scientists, or those with right wing criticisms of gay marriage etc.) In the context of last spring, I personally encountered a lot of racism/sexism/homophobia in the mentioned dialog spaces, and a similar and more palpable example might be the flyers I’ve seen recently- “Do you believe in reverse racism? You should submit your opinion to Origin, Swarthmore’s new intercultural magazine!” This is obviously a problem.

      Constructive dialog in practice also has a tendency to never come to a conclusion or produce actionable next steps. When it does come to a conclusion, it is those in power who set the terms for that. (see Kemp’s letter to MJ) Dialog is therefore a delay tactic, especially helpful for administrators who can just wait for dissenters to graduate. Circumventing this was the point of the Parrish conversations, where the goal was explicitly to outline next steps for improvement. It is also noteworthy that a huge amount of extensive analysis has gone into most of the demands and what the next steps ought to be. I can speak to how this gets erased in terms of divestment-which I’m most familiar with. MJ has done a huge amount of research and analysis and is ready to start looking at the actual plan for what money would have to be moved where for Swat to divest, but every time we meet with admin, we have to deal with absurd non-arguments like “if we sell the stocks, then someone else is buying it” that we’ve addressed years ago. All of you have experienced the teach-ins for another example, which, as far as I know, didn’t much in the way of next steps, even if they gave some people a good chance to air their sentiments and opinions.There are other issues too, but I don’t have much time at the moment so I’ll leave it at that for now.

      Now, because it is you commenting, and I’m sure you’re thinking abut your Consortium for Constructive Dialog, I should say I don’t personally mind that. I think the issue is mostly when activists are forced to create such forums to be considered legitimate and when it is expected to be used instead of protest or action.
      Here is also another more thorough analysis: http://swatoverlaps.tumblr.com/post/49900407586/what-swarthmore-really-stands-for-or-fuck-your

      • ‘ MJ has done a huge amount of research and analysis and is ready to start looking at the actual plan for what money would have to be moved where for Swat to divest, but every time we meet with admin, we have to deal with absurd non-arguments like “if we sell the stocks, then someone else is buying it” that we’ve addressed years ago. ‘

        Oh for God (or the spaghetti monster)’s sake Nathan give me a break. MJ’s been getting their ass kicked on the DG for years:

        http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2013/09/13/letter-to-the-editor-mountain-justice-responds-to-board-divestment-statement/

        http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2013/10/01/mountain-justice-demonstrators-shut-out-of-board-of-managers-meeting-multimedia-spread/

        Every time you post, you weaken your argument even more.

        ‘we have to deal with absurd non-arguments like “if we sell the stocks, then someone else is buying it” that we’ve addressed years ago. ”

        I have yet to read you “address” this “non-argument”. Please humor me and do so.

        I don’t want to discourage you from posting, but every time you do, you make activists with actually good causes look bad.

        • You told me to humor you, and in the next sentence told me to stop posting.
          It is irrelevant to what we aim to achieve with divestment, but I’m not going to argue that here. MJ has taken up way too much space and has too often crowded out the cries of the other activists on campus, and I’m not going to feed that on an Overlaps thread. If you really want to argue it personally, choose another MJ DG comments section, or email me.

          • For the sake of continuity and publicity I’ll do so right here.

            Here’s my argument:

            When an entity buy’s a stock, it is a price taker.

            http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/pricetaker.asp

            If you feel like you could possibly rebut this because you think this is as you put it,an “absurd non-arguments”, you really need to take intro to econ.

            Feel free to rebut on any dg article. I’ll find it.

          • Econ Alum, your argument is far too simplistic. That kind of thinking leads to the “ignoring of the systematic risk factors or at least the failure to point them out,” (p. 6), which Colander et. al (2009) call “academic ‘moral hazard'” (p.6). Luckily, there’s a vibrant debate in mainstream economics about what’s really going on in financial markets.

            In their widely-circulated article about financial markets, Colander et al. argue that key elements cannot be ignored: “including heterogeneity of decision rules, revisions of forecasting strategies, and changes in the social context” (p. 3). A more realistic model would not preclude divestment as potentially effective strategy.

            http://cat2.middlebury.edu/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/0901.pdf

            My favorite thing about arguing against people who believe perfection-information neoclassical models is how confident you are in something that repeatedly fails on its own terms. See Kay (2005) for a short piece on macroeconomic prediction.

            http://www.johnkay.com/1995/09/29/cracks-in-the-crystal-ball

          • “you really need to take intro to econ.” What the hell? This entire letter is about how oppressive this institution is. Do you really think that the economics department would be any less oppressive? Absolutely not. They are going to spoon-feed the white male patriarchy exactly what it wants to hear – that divestment is going to harm their all-important profits. I have educated myself on the matters of economics/finance and in doing so I have smashed the power structures that this institution perpetuates. I know divestment won’t cost any money and will (if the BoM will get out of the way!!!) be a huge step towards fighting the injustice that the elitist Economics department helps perpetuate. Also, taking Intro Econ has a huge opportunity cost (see, I DO know econ) in terms of classes I can no longer take. You can have your econ classes. I will stick to the non-oppressive Sociology of the Economy.

          • Thank you Check Your Assumptions for choosing 2 articles that have absolutely no relevance to the point I made.

            God speed.

          • Econ Alum, I was responding to your assumption about price taking (the key assumption to your argument). Colander et al (2009) discuss why assumptions like that don’t tell the whole story. Kay (2005) argues that those assumptions lead to models that are almost always wrong.

          • Check your assumptions:

            Your link for “almost always wrong” is straight from the article, wherein the author bothers not to give any precision to this statement. [wtf does it mean to be almost always wrong?] Also, no one is impressed by one who compiles a bunch of sources, especially if these guys have no credibility. Big shock — much of academia is total BS. So unless you can prove to us why stuff is true, or at least tell us a compelling story, don’t waste our time with stupid articles from stupid people just trying to make a buck.

          • It’s hard to argue that Colander is not respected by mainstream economists. He is easily the most well-known economist discussing what it means to be an economist. If you are thinking about going grad school in economics, you will or will be encouraged to read his book, The Making of an Economist, Redux

            John Kay is a visiting professor at LSE. I’d argue that they don’t let “idiots” teach at LSE but feel free to disagree.

            Regardless, Robert Shiller just won the Nobel for his work explaining how financial markets are not efficient (i.e. entities buying stocks aren’t price takers). Even if you choose to ignore Shiller’s work, at least acknowledge that many economists do not buy your argument.

          • Truth is independent of consensus. Not necessary (or sufficient!) for truth is anyone’s apparent understanding of it.

            And if we were to care about how the discipline views its members, perhaps by top journal publications, Kay is not doing well.

            http://www.johnkay.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/JK-CV.pdf

            Being associated to a top institution is not the same as being a good researcher or a brilliant mind. Not necessary or sufficient.

            [Recall http://gizmodo.com/a-former-subway-worker-made-a-breakthrough-discovery-in-508987652 and http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/04/umass-student-exposes-serious-flaws-harvard-economists-influential-study/64357/ , for instance]

            I haven’t read any of Shiller’s papers; especially the ones he wrote with Campbell. [On my long list.] Worth emphasizing is the difference in academic and popular publishing, the latter of which has high BS quotient.

            I demand precision.

          • I was trying to make a slightly different argument than the one you’re critiquing. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I can convince you on the DG to abandon most of what gets taught in mainstream theory courses. I was only trying to show that there are alternative perspectives/methods out there if someone is interested that I’ve found more convincing. Demanding precision on the DG is pretty bold.

          • Also consider adding Thomas Mayer’s (1992) Truth Versus Precision in Economics to your long list. If you’re going to “demand precision,” you should at least recognize the opportunity cost of doing so.

          • I challenge the DG norm. That the DG comments are generally imprecise is only because we let them be.

            Obv there’s a tradeoff –– I choose to be on the safe side. Work within axiomatic environments and speculate beyond them with careful qualifications only when required. Not unreasonable.

        • The colander article suggests that certain financial models have been proven as incorrect. Considering the financial crisis of approximately 2008, it is not a leap to say that this is a fact. However, just because some financial models are ineffective, it’s a pretty big leap to then say that this applies to basic economic definitions like “price taker”. Surely nobody is disputing “equilibrium” as well, right? Unless one is extremely motivated to dispel the entire field of economics, picking at this concept seems desperate.

          Can you describe to us why the concept of a price taker is one that you are disputing? It seems like this is one that most MJ members have accepted so I’m curious as to why you think so. Furthermore as others have stated, an MJ article did show that shareholders can affect price, but only when 90% sell the shares. And this effect was extremely minimal.

          • It seems to me that Mountain Justice has not been very clear about the reasons behind divestment. Public discussion seems to focus on Mountain Justice’s claim that divestment would financially injure fossil fuel companies. Econ students have correctly attacked this claim as inaccurate. As Huzilla pointed out, the article that Mountain Justice itself posted shows that if 65% of shareholders divested, the price would drop less than .5%. I would posit that institutions willing to consider socially responsible investing constitute well under 65% of shareholders of fossil fuel companies. Thus, even if all educational institutions divested, fossil fuel stock prices would remain basically unchanged.

            However, it seems to me that the core of Mountain Justice’s argument for divestment is NOT that divestment would hurt fossil fuel companies. Indeed, I see no mention of this argument in their October 1 statement to the board. Instead, Mountain Justice’s claim seems to be that Swarthmore’s investment legitimizes fossil fuel companies and that it is hypocritical and wrong to profit from the poisoning of the environment. Mountain Justice argues “if it is wrong for companies to poison people, it is also wrong to profit from that poisoning,” and claims “it makes no sense to work towards carbon neutrality, while our investments legitimize the fossil fuel industry.”

            I believe that Mountain Justice should clarify the reasons behind its opposition to divestment. It should concede the fact that divestment will not significantly affect stock prices– the research it itself cites show this to be the case.

            If Mountain Justice made this concession, it would further its cause in several ways. First, it would make Mountain Justice seem more reasonable and legitimate. Second, it would shift the debate from a peripheral point (whether divestment would decrease oil company prices), to the core of Mountain Justice’s argument– that Swarthmore cannot coherently work toward carbon neutrality while profiting from and legitimizing the fossil fuel industry.

          • Let’s Move this Debate Forward, I’m not in MJ, and I’m commenting to bring a diversity of economic viewpoints to the table. One reason you hear a couple of different economic arguments from folks supporting divestment is due to uncertainty. By definition, economists can model risk but cannot model uncertainty (see Frank Knight’s work). Climate change is fundamentally uncertain, so it makes sense that we hear so many different arguments. That being said, I feel ambivalent about the best strategy for divestment.

            Huzilla,price taking is a very specific assumption that assumes that no market participants have market power, everyone has perfect information, actors are rational to just name a few. Many economists do economics without assuming “price taking” behavior (e.g. econometrics and imperfect information models).

            Most economists see static equilibrium as a oversimplified pedagogical tool (see Colander, “What Economists Teach, What Economists Do”, 2005, Journal of Economic Education). Yes, many economists don’t believe in the model of equilibrium that gets taught in Intro Econ.

            read and compile, If you recognize a tradeoff between truth and precision, than demanding precision from others is restrictive. Since mainstream economics is about often choice, why can’t you let me choose truth?

          • Hey Let’s Move the Debate Forward,

            As a member of Mountain Justice, I can say that you’re exactly right, and thanks for bringing this up! MJ has never said that divestment–even by all colleges and universities–would financially injure the fossil fuel industry.

            For a clarification on the role of divestment, see this piece I co-wrote last year with the former national organizer for the Responsible Endowments Coalition, addressing exactly this point as well as others: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-bourqui/divestment-proponents-fossil-fuels_b_2288080.html

            The broad goal of divestment is to remove the industry’s social license to operate, as the tactic was able to do in the case of South African apartheid (in conjunction, of course, with a variety of other struggles against the apartheid regime.) This recent study from Oxford University makes a good case for fossil fuel divestment doing just that: http://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/research/stranded-assets/SAP-divestment-report-final.pdf
            It is also, as you said, to create a more holistic understanding of carbon neutrality and “greening” that includes the institution’s investment practices.

            Also, I would love to sit down and talk with you or and any other folks interested in learning more about or debating divestment, mostly because I prefer face-to-face rather than virtual conversations. Please shoot me an email if you’re interested!

            Kate
            karonof1@swarthmore.edu

          • “Huzilla,price taking is a very specific assumption that assumes that no market participants have market power, everyone has perfect information, actors are rational to just name a few.”

            I believe that the price taking concept is being used to explain why divesting from the “sordid sixteen” would not affect these companies revenue streams and would not affect these companies stock prices. Because the shares have long past been IPOed and since MJ (practically) has no market power, I’m not sure where the source of disagreement is. As Econ Alumn’s article suggests, a LOT of market power is needed, to make very little difference in stock price.

            I believe the frustration from Pro-Endowment supporters stems from the fact that this conversation has already happened years ago. Please see Michael Droste’s comment from this DG article in 2011.

            http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2011/12/05/response-to-swarthmore-mountain-justices-open-letter/

            Of course I understand that not all current members of MJ were at Swarthmore 2 years ago nor do I expect them to read every single comment of criticism, but ignoring and failing to respond to criticism of its position is something MJ has been doing for years. And yet even after losing almost the entirety of their public support, they are still audacious enough to call discourse a “delay tactic”.

            So please let me know if you believe there is any reason to think that MJ or colleges endowments have any market power that could affect stock prices. Until then, you can consider these assumptions checked!

            tl:dr MJ has no market power to affect prices. Therefore, the price taker concept still stands.

          • An additional feature of “price taker” models is that all actors are atomistic. This means that nothing can emerge from the interaction of actors that wasn’t already inherent in the actors. In econ jargon, think microfoundations. While some real-world situations may be reasonably modeled with this feature, social movements clearly cannot be. MJ is a part of hundreds of other campaigns trying to do similar work, and it’s pretty hard to predict with economic tools (or really any other tools) where the divestment movement is going.

            My argument is not that divestment will work, but that it could work. Using “price taker” models precludes this possibility.

            I’m also done commenting on this thread. I’m more than happy to get a meal, but I don’t want to put my name out there. If you email overlaps, they can point you in my direction.

        • A person who called themselves “Divestment Supporter” just posted this:

          “This entire letter is about how oppressive this institution is. Do you really think that the economics department would be any less oppressive? Absolutely not. They are going to spoon-feed the white male patriarchy exactly what it wants to hear – that divestment is going to harm their all-important profits. I have educated myself on the matters of economics/finance and in doing so I have smashed the power structures that this institution perpetuates. I know divestment won’t cost any money and will (if the BoM will get out of the way!!!) be a huge step towards fighting the injustice that the elitist Economics department helps perpetuate. ”

          ^It’s statements like this that make the Divestment campaign an absolute joke. It’s ridiculous to even compare them to all the other changes happening on campus as people work together in good faith.

          You do realize that econ is one of the top 3 most popular majors at Swarthmore right?

          • I’ve decided to forgo this hopeless thread, but the 11 likes on this unnerves me. That post was, indeed, quite literally a joke. That was very clearly satire from someone who is obviously not terribly fond of us or divestment. Do you really think that ill of us that we’d say such things? (And who talks like that?!?! “I have educated myself on the matters of economics/finance and in doing so I have smashed the power structures that this institution perpetuates.” Really?!?!?! )

          • Poe’s law states:

            Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.

            This is the second time I’ve invoked Poe’s law in an MJ discussion. Please stop to consider the implications of how many people, including myself, can’t distinguish between a Poe of MJ and the real McCoy.

            (Sorry to re-post, I screwed up the HTML on the last one. Comment editors, feel free to delete it.)

  2. so according to the google,
    that quote at the end is actually Gaston Bachelard quoted by Seamus Heaney
    (he kept it in his poetry notebook)

    • Thanks, versaceversaceversace! We did have high aspirations for the lyric quality of the piece but we never anticipated comparison to the likes of Keats and Blake. I’m so glad our commitment to resuscitating the intuitive, the emotional, and the natural within our writing came through to you.

    • Well “Anonymous”, Overlaps published this article. Overlaps is not hiding behind a veil of anonymity… you can contribute if you wish, or contact them. Furthermore, Overlaps is a print publication… not just a tumblr.

  3. triumphantly emotional experience you say? thats what last spring was? my god that rly says it all honestly.

    and seamus heaney?! the guy EVEN terry eagleton called “an enlightened cosmopolitan liberal” DO U SEE URSELVES?? i mean outside the context of this weird iteration the hollywood civil rights movie u all obviously believe ur in? the romanticization inherent to all of this stuff is insufferable to me. yall psyched about corey booker?

  4. “Enough revisionism and falsehood — this is our history and our truth!”

    There is a beautiful irony in this statement. My memory is that of a fragmented coalition of activists, who, in the pursuit of everything, obtained nothing but acrimony (ala Occupy Wallstreet).Somehow, and I still don’t know how you managed it, you bungled an excellent, popular campaign to reform the school’s sexual assault policies and affect real positive change. The majority of the seniors were glad to be shrift of you and your legacy will be nought but a distasteful foot note on Swarthmore’s history. For the sake of the campus, and even yourselves, pursue something more valuable with your time.

    • Would you care to elaborate on how activists “bungled” sexual assault reform? The administration listens more now, the school is being investigated in accordance with Clery and Title IX, employees who were not qualified (including Tom Elverson, who broke the law and lied about being a psychologist) were dismissed, the college brought in Margolis Healy… this all happened because of these activists. Furthermore, what “popular campaign” was there, external to the one these activists carried out, for them to have bungled?

      What you have said is an example of what the authors meant by “revisionism.”

    • It’s hard to call our campaign to reform sexual assault policies popular when we were harassed and dismissed at every turn. I can provide many specific incidences if you would like.

      And if my legacy will be “nought but a distasteful foot note on Swarthmore’s history” in your mind, so be it. I’m here to help survivors and try and decrease the number of assaults, not be prom queen.

      • You were dismissed when you made broad accusations against entire groups without substantiating evidence and then deliberately repudiated the good faith efforts of those groups with your second referendum. No one should be harassed, even when wrong, and I am sorry this occurred.

        FYI: Your campaign last year, you know the one I’m talking about, made a lot of survivors feel much worse about things. I would also wager that you’ve done absolutely nothing to reduce the number of assaults. (As you, nor the college, has the capacity to do so without incredibly draconian measures). So, not only are you not prom queen (a tradition swat is fortunately without) but your legacy is also a sham.

        • I assume our “broad accusations” are in reference to our claims that fraternity brothers have committed or been complicit in sexual assaults. Four fraternity brothers have been expelled since summer (and one withdrew in the midst of proceedings after being charged with three assaults) for exactly that. More are the subjects of ongoing investigations. I think that those facts are plenty substantiating. What other “accusations” would you say are unfounded?

          We have not yet decreased the number of assaults (a goal that will take a much longer time to be achieved) but as a result of our Title IX complaint/our bringing these issues to light, rapists have been expelled and our support system for survivors has improved immensely.

          How have we improved so far? The school is hiring a full time Title IX coordinator (and our interim one is wonderful!), and advocates for both survivors and the accused are being hired as well. Investigations that have long surpassed the 60 day limit are finally being closed, and a new investigator has been hired. Administrators who mishandled investigations or reports have been reassigned or removed completely.

          It worries me that you think we can do nothing to reduce the number of assaults without “incredibly draconian measures”. What, to you, is an achievable goal? What should policies look like? Or should we go back to how things were?

        • I would like to clarify that I am aware not all sexual assaults on campus are committed by fraternity brothers. My assailant was not a brother. But it is impossible to talk about sexual assault (or homophobia, racism, etc.) without discussing the fraternities, because multiple assaults have been committed in the house, by brothers, during fraternity events.

  5. “A couple hundred new and painfully hopeful faces seemed to be everywhere, everywhere reminders of how much work would need to be done to bring “the community” closer to being on the same page about how important all of these issues were and are for us.”

    As one of those “painfully hopeful faces” you describe, I’m not sure how eager I am to be brought closer to “your page”. Even as you describe how there is no monolithic student movement, this article certainly seems to clearly define what types of thought are correct or problematic and boxes out any ability for one to voice their own opinion. In other words “your page” is not the only answer to campus problems and I think you need to start recognizing that others (yes even the administation) have a legitimate right to voice their opinions and criticize yours without being labeled as “disempowering, explicitly bigoted and oppressive “. It seems to me as if the “constructive dialogue” that the writers decry was not deemed constructive by campus activists only because other voices were able to be heard. This “constructive dialogue” is what fixing issues looks like outside an echo chamber.

    • With all due respect, I don’t see any instances of this article putting forth specific “types of thought [as] correct or problematic”… ? I feel that those who were on campus last year are the only ones that should get a say in how they felt the events of that time effected them. It is easy to criticize us and say that you are outside of the “echo chamber” and thus more objective — but this is an argument from ignorance; being involved in the campus community during this past spring makes the authors more qualified than you to discuss it, not less.

          • You stopped responding to our discussion on Dean Rodriguez. I can only assume you were tired of being confronted with facts and word definitions and decided to try to salvage your image here instead. But nay, sir, it shan’t be that easy!

          • I’m glad that we’re being honest here about the importance of our egos. I would have hated to miss your update; thank you for hunting me down shirking on my job to engage with you full-time on DG comment threads. You’ll find a comment waiting for you in the article on Dean Rodriguez.
            You can gloat about “winning” soon though; I doubt I’ll continue that conversation further beyond that post.

      • I bet that is precisely the attitude patty cakes was referring to. Though you also may be an elaborate troll in which case mad props do your thing.

        • I’m no troll; I mean it. When Patty Cakes claims to have a more objective view than the people involved in the protest, that is erasing the experience of the many people who actually were there and actually know what activism at Swarthmore is like.

          I’d like to point out that “the administration” is not a person, and does not have an opinion. It is an institution; it has an agenda. It is the most powerful force on campus. Its voice is not being ignored.

          I’m sure Patty Cakes has the best of intents — trying to promote compromise. But inherent in this is the assumption that everyone’s view is equal. That is false. If you are not a survivor of sexual assault, you don’t get an opinion about the rape culture here that should be get equal wait as the opinion of a survivor. If you are not queer, you don’t get an opinion about homo-/bi-/a-/trans*-/phobia that should get equal wait as the opinion of a queer person. The problem with compromise, is that the majority will always win. And the majority, by definition, is never the marginalized group.

          • in response to “x or y doesn’t get an opinion”

            1. While it’s well and good to talk about groups silencing other groups (although asserting a point of view, it should be remembered, is not the same as silencing another’s), we should reflect on the fact that all of these events are experienced by individuals. Sure, through the lens of the systems involved, I’m a white cishet female and someone can make an argument that I don’t *get* an opinion on this or that issue. Through the lens of life as it’s experienced outside the walls of social theory (i.e., the lens of most people in the world), I’m a human being who is unconsciously part of power systems etc. So as a group, we should listen to marginalized groups; but I think it behooves us to remember that the opinion of anindividual is the opinion of an individual, and just as worthy in terms of the recognition of thought, agency, etc. that’s expressed therein. Should opinions be weighed differently? Probably. Are some opinions not only invalid, but outside the right of the possessor to hold? Never.

            2. Even if you don’t buy that argument (which Peter doesn’t but I think is a fair expression of a lot of problems with this way of thinking), people are going to have opinions anyway. You’re asking folks to a) abdicate their right to form an opinion until they’re an interested group or b) disregard and forget they had a point of view after they accidentally and incorrectly developed one anyway. I think we should be more pragmatic and explain by opinions ought be weighed differently, rather than simply telling people that ‘they don’t get one.’

          • @ pragmatism:

            I think we should be more pragmatic and explain by opinions ought be weighed differently, rather than simply telling people that ‘they don’t get one.’

            That’s literally what I said:

            If you are not queer, you don’t get an opinion about homo-/bi-/a-/trans*-/phobia that should get equal wait [sic] as the opinion of a queer person.

            Similarly:

            Are some opinions not only invalid, but outside the right of the possessor to hold? Never.

            I never said this; what would that even mean, to not have a right to think something? I never asserted that somehow we should punish people for their thoughts; I said that, if you have privilege and don’t suffer from a form of oppression, your opinion does not get equal weight with that of someone who does.

          • From “Feminist Pixie:

            “Oh, so because I’m straight I’m not allowed to have an opinion on [insert LGBT issue here]”

            Listen.

            I’m an english major. I know next to nothing about science, engineering, and astronomy. Sure, I think space is cool. I’m very supportive of NASA’s efforts. I might even have an opinion on where we should send the next shuttle or how much money we should spend on space travel.

            But at the end of the day, my opinion on the matter is not valuable. I’m not going to enter into a discussion about the next shuttle launch with a bunch of trained scientists and expect them to take me seriously.

            Sometimes, your opinion is not valuable. Sometimes, you aren’t qualified to enter a discussion.

            And, lets be honest, straight people’s opinions are valued in literally every other situation. Hell, straight people get more awards for lgbt “activism” than queer people themselves.

            If you really can’t accept that sometimes your voice isn’t the most important in the room, you might need to get over yourself.

    • Not all opinions are equal, and not all opinions are weighed equally. The opinions of student minorities do not have the same effect as those of the school administration – and within the administration itself, different opinions hold different amounts of power. And unfortunately, those opinions that hold the most sway and are the most likely to guide action are those who have a vested interest in protecting the state of things, because they stand to gain.

      If we were to create a discussion about evolution, would we invite noted creationists? If we were to create a forum dedicated to finding solutions to climate change, would we invite people who are known to deny that global warming is happening? We don’t always allow all opinions to be heard in every discussion, because it’s not necessary and it’s not useful. In fact, it can make things harder.

      Equally, the administration and other students are free to criticize the points brought up in this article, and this article is equally free to label those criticisms as “disempowering, explicitly bigoted and oppressive”. This is especially true when they came in the wake of a series of attacks on students who occupy marginalized identities, against a constant drip-feed of messages telling us that we are worth as much as piss on a door.

      And you might not see that, painfully-hopeful Patty Cakes. Some of us are lucky enough to never have to see that. But far more of us never have that choice; we are thrust into politics by way of the ideas we embody, free targets because of the fact that we exist. Perhaps this looks like a time for rational, logical debate, a detached meeting of equals. Unfortunately, this does not and cannot exist. We will always be labelled by others by default, and do not have the luxury of detachment. What seems to you to be fresh and original opinions are the same old ideas, with a new lick of paint.

      In 1984, vomit and what was suspected to be fecal matter was found around the IC. Last year alone there were five incidences of people urinating on the IC. How many times does this have to happen before we can acknowledge a pattern?

      • If you were having a discussion about evolution you wouldn’t invite a creationist? That pretty much sums it up. Open your damn minds once in a while. I don’t believe in Creationism either, but when was the last time you listened to someone on these issues without already having your mind made up. Christ you people are insufferable.

        • Creationism has zero to bring to the table in a discussion about evolution. Why invite someone who argues with no evidence against the strongest scientific consensus there is? Why invite someone without a testable hypothesis? That is useless to science.

      • I actually disagree with you on the climate change point. I’d say you should bring the climate change deniers in and try to have a good faith “constructive dialogue” with them on the facts, after which point they will either a) be convinced that climate change is occurring or b) refuse to accept the evidence (and maybe you should see if they have evidence?). At that point, you could fairly begin movement on climate change proposals.

        Of course, climate change is different than people having opinions on things such as the IC or the fraternities. There are certainly debates over facts (i.e. are fraternity brothers more likely to commit sexual assault?) that can be resolved, but there are also normative questions that can’t really, and they’re often conflated when calling people bigoted or oppressive.

        • Arguments with my analogies aside, the gist of my point there is that it’s not necessary to have every opinion held by every person represented at every meeting on a given topic. Otherwise we’d be talking in circles forever. If we are to come up with proposals for change, we have to move past the “but you said my opinions were bigoted!” point. That was one of the things I really liked about the Parrish Parlor talks last semester – there were at least two facilitators per group ensuring that conversations were kept strictly on the topic of “how do we address these problems that have been brought up?” There was a working list of suggestions that’s still floating somewhere on the internet. I think that’s the kind of conversation we need to be returning to, instead of returning to the foundation level “okay everyone state how you feel” conversations. Cliffnotes would be good here, but I for one would rather see a conversation about action, which is how I interpreted this article.

          • Responding to Claudia saying “it’s not necessary to have every opinion held by every person represented at every meeting on a given topic.” That is the number one problem with all of these social justice issues on campus, and honestly it’s really scary to hear that you don’t value opinions that differ from yours. The problem with all the protests and board meeting interruptions last year is that the protesters assumed and continue to assume that they are completely right and justified in their opinions, which honestly seem to appear to them as undeniable truths rather than just opinions. That’s why I suspect that Claudia and others don’t see the value in representing all opinions for constructive dialogue because they see what is actually their opinion, and NOTHING MORE, as an undeniable truth; so why would they want to waste time arguing with people who deny truth and facts with no grounds? As someone who is on the other side of those protesters and literally got shouted down by them last year, you have truly made me feel like I am basically evil and oppressive just because I disagree with you. And while I strongly disagree with you myself, I can say with a good conscience that I have never and would never make you feel that way.

          • Erm. We’re inviting Robert George to campus who said gay people are below human dignity. Why should I be obligated to listen to someone who doesn’t even think I’m a human being?

            That’s not “constructive dialog.” That’s abuse.

            Sorry for pulling out privilege jargon but it’s necessary in this situation. If you’re in a position of privilege, like say you’re straight but strongly favor gay rights, hearing Robert George isn’t a direct attack on who you are. It’s not an imminent psychological and physical danger to you. For queer people it is. That’s privilege — not having to fear for your emotional and physical well being due to different value systems. And you have the privilege of being able to engage with him without having your bodily and psychological integrity compromised.

            Also I’d honestly like to know what valuable community building will come out of me, a queer woman, listening to a horrible, bigoted, homophobic man spew hatred? What am I supposed to gain from that? Am I supposed to learn to accept that some people really don’t think I’m a human being and learn to manage that? Am I supposed to learn that homophobic bigots are people too whose opinions are worthy of respect?
            Am I supposed to educate him? To teach him that gay people really are good? I’m about 100000% sure that that won’t happen with Robert George and it’s not my responsibility.

            Do you think people are obligated to listen to emotional abuse in order to engage? Do you think survivors, to be a part of a community, need to listen to people who tell them that their assaults are made up?

            While I agree wholeheartedly that the treatment you received was unacceptable, my bet is that Claudia’s position comes from having abuses spewed at her and wanting to protect herself. And she’s speaking on behalf of a lot of other people who are too afraid to say otherwise.

          • Zoe,

            I urge you not to take them too seriously. For the most part, they cannot be reasoned with. Take a step back and realize it’s not your fault. There literally is NO way to rationally argue with people who are so far gone.

            “blah blah frat guys looking at naked women is sexual harassment, but I can dance to lil john at Paces whenever the hell I want.”

            “blah blah looking at naked women is objectifying and wrong, but public nudity and masturbation at Crunkfest is about sexual EXPLORATION and pushing boundaries and omg it’s so deep and i’m so righteous”

            Also, if you feel you’ve been attacked and degraded for holding opinions that are contrary to what some of these lunatics think, then you probably have been attacked and degraded and it was probably very much intentional. Realize that underneath all the compassionate rhetoric, these people are classic bullies inside. If you express for a moment that you might not be on their side, they will attack you, or they will jump in as a pack and support whomever attacks you. I really don’t have a problem with bullies, it’s the sheer hypocrisy that eats me inside.

            http://daily.swarthmore.edu/2013/09/24/southern-swattie-pronouncing-two-heads/

          • Zoe:

            Claudia is not saying that we shouldn’t include ANY different viewpoints. She is saying that there are some viewpoints that would be not be constructive if they were included, and only distract from the real issue.

            Let’s say you’re having a panel on Magellan’s circumnavigation. You invite various historians and geography experts. Is it necessary to invite a member of the Flat Earth Society? Would it be closed minded to exclude them?

            There is a misconception that as liberals, we have not considered your worldview and dismissed it out of hand. I grew up in a staunchly conservative and Catholic/Orthodox family and used to be very conservative myself. I, and almost all of us on campus, have heard the arguments before. Our minds were open, just not persuaded.

            I can say with a good conscience that I have never and would never make you feel that way.
            It is not for you to decide whether you have hurt people. Hurt can be unintentional but still painful.

        • Hey Alison,

          Are you comparing alternative political persuasions like Zoe’s conservatism to the Flat Earth Society? If not, do you think conservatives/libertarians at Swarthmore ought to be included in campus dialogue?

          You mention a past experience with conservatives at home, but I would be wary of assuming that your average rural Tea Partier is the same as a conservative at Swarthmore, just as I would be wary of thinking that my Democratic neighbor holds the same views as a liberal at Swarthmore. I know Zoe from a civil society reading group in which a group of predominantly conservative students read and debated Edmund Burke and Alexis de Tocqueville, so I can vouch that Zoe is coming from a more intellectual conservative tradition.

          Also, you inform Zoe that “Hurt can be unintentional but still painful.” No doubt that’s true, but Zoe also alludes to being hurt by past conversations in which her voice was not heard. Perhaps the people conducting those conversations were also guilty of inflicting pain?

          • Sometimes the opinions of conservative students aren’t valued and don’t deserve to come to the table. Like when people blatantly ignored facts about rape in the fraternities. I really don’t care if you think that rape isn’t a problem. I’ve presented the facts. I’ve done enough convincing. Trying to convince everyone of what’s objective present us from actually solving the problem and it also seriously offends me because usually it’s all about blaming me, the victim.

          • Daniele –

            As I said in my comment, I drew the comparison to the FES to explain how some inclusions can be productive and move forward whereas others probably will not. While I welcome differing viewpoints, including people who do not see problems (“fraternities do not have a sexual assault problem”; “white supremacy does not exist on this campus”) in discussions of reform means devoting time that could be used to come up with solutions to convincing people problems actually exist. If you think there should be debates about racism and sexism existing, feel free to host them and invite whomever you like. But I don’t think I want to spend my limited energy on those discussions since it only slows already sluggish progress down.

            I can vouch that Zoe is coming from a more intellectual conservative tradition.
            The conservatives I have been exposed to come from a very similar tradition, in fact. The people who exposed me to conservatism (mainly my family) have attended/are currently attending schools like Thomas Aquinas and Loyola Marymount and are well versed in classical liberalism much like yourself. Intellectualism is not exclusive to Swarthmore Conservatives.

            It is possible that Zoe was hurt by past conversations. If so, I encourage her to bring it up when and where she feels comfortable so it can be addressed.

          • Also, like, y’all are supporting Robert George in coming to campus. The one who said gay people are beneath human dignity. Supporting someone who holds that opinion is pretty gross and is not something worth validating. But Robert George is apparently an intellectual so it’s okay?

          • Allison, you and the social activists on campus (I hate to generalize, but I don’t have a better term for you guys) have marginalized my views and make me feel bad about certain things I believe on an almost daily basis for things that I strongly believe that I should not feel bad about. The Flat Earth comment is not surprising (nor is the “since it already slows sluggish progress down” comment – implying that those who disagree with you are impediments to objective “progress”) but I guess I should expect those who disagree with you guys on certain issues to be labelled cruelly without actually getting to know the individuals and understanding why they feel the way they do.

          • person, you and other people with oppressive beliefs on campus (I hate to generalize, but I don’t have a better term for you guys) have marginalized me and make my feel bad about my existence on an almost daily basis. Your comment is not surprising (nor is the fact that you’re comparing someone’s beliefs being called problematic with systemic oppression), but I guess I should expect those who disagree with you guys on certain issues to be labelled “cruel” without you actually getting to know the individuals your oppressive ideologies harm.

          • A Person –

            I would ask for specificity on what you’ve been made to feel bad about. The campus activists are by no means a monolith. Although there are overlaps between groups, there are also huge gaps.

            I am confused as to why you put “progress” in quotes, because there has been objective progress made. Having the school follow the law and fully investigate assault reports (which did not happen for me until long after the IX complaint) is progress. Hiring a full time Title IX coordinator is progress. Hiring a new AOD counselor is progress. Hiring a new investigator is progress. Sanctioning students found responsible for rape is progress.

            As I have said throughout this thread, I do know the individuals who disagree with me and why they feel as they do. And I still disagree.

    • Don’t bother, foolish freshmen. They don’t listen. They never listen. They don’t have to. If you’re not constructing the dialogue they want to have, then you’re not having constructive dialogue. Don’t humor them, just let them do their weird little thing in peace.

      • So not true. Some of us don’t listen, but some of us do. Don’t give up. Keep your faces shining and hopeful. Carry it through senior year. Recognize that there will be hard times too, and that those are necessary. Refuse to give in to the tendencies to generalize and to otherize. Please, don’t give up on trying to understand and communicate with other people. There is so much to gain.

      • The last incident where someone peed on the door someone was inside the IC. They heard the perpetrators shouting “yeah! yeah! right on the door!”. The argument that they all just happened to be drunk and walked past the multitude of bushes directly to the IC door is ignorant.

        Also, ICC? Really?

      • At first I thought it best not to respond to this comment but now that I see that it’s received 9 “likes” I feel I should. For clarifications sake I must ask a few questions:

        1) Are you suggesting that the root cause of the defacement was the proximity of Paces and the IC and not a lack of respect by a group of irresponsible students? Wouldn’t such a suggestion take agency/responsibility away from the perpetrators and place blame/responsibility on the IC? (Can you even blame a building??)

        2) If the answer to the first question is no and simply intend to point out the role alcohol has likely played in such incidents, do you have any suggestions as to how such incidents could be remedied? The IC is an open, tolerant, welcoming space which hosts activities that do nothing but foster a sense of community on the campus. While I hope this was not your intention (and if so I apologize for misreading your comment), your comment seems to suggest that somehow the onus is on the administration and those tied to the center to help it relocate so as to prevent further offensive incidents. I don’t see the logic in that – such an attitude serves to validate/condone the negative behavior as opposed to tackling the true issue – the mindsets of the perps.

        • Are you insane??? How could you possibly write all that in response to a simple pragmatic suggestion that just *maybe* there are non-nefarious reasons for the door getting peed on – such as the proximity of the door to Paces? From now on this is my go-to post if anyone asks for an example of social justice warriors finding offense and oppression when there is nothing there.

          I was going to deconstruct the idiocy of your post in full detail, but I just can’t bring myself to explain kindergarten logic to otherwise smart people once again. I just can’t do it anymore. Reading your post made me lol in real life though. Thanks for that.

          • … Did you even read what Paul and Allison wrote?

            Furthermore, in response to “alumn” … if this were the case, wouldn’t we expect people to uriniate/vomit/etc on the door to the Sprowl Alumni building? In Essies? On the door to the SCCS room? Or, like a human being, in a toilet? The fact is that this is not a coincidence. Especially when, as Allison pointed out, the perpetrators even SAID that they were attacking the IC.

          • Peter, how dull you are. I said nothing against Allison’s comment. It is on point, and everything you just said relates to her comment and not Paul’s. Paul’s comment is ridiculous because it preemptively tries to wring out every bit of offense imaginable from an entirely innocuous comment just because it leans in a direction that, if it were true, would defuse controversy rather than generate more of it. E.g., he says that merely SUGGESTING that the root cause of the pissing could be because of the proximity of the IC to paces, is essentially removing “agency” from the perps and implying that the IC itself is to blame. What the hell? That’s nonsensical, grotesque logic. It’s like in his social justice universe, mitigating circumstances re: intent do not exist and having any good reason to take some blame on the perps would automatically entail putting that blame right on the victims. What is this shit? God it’s such lazy thinking, but common and typical.

          • @wewe: I referred you to Allison’s post because she there (preemptively) refutes your argument that Paul’s comment is unjustified. i.e., there were not “non-nefarious” reasons for the IC being attacked.

          • When the urination happens 5 times in one year, it is not just drunk people being lazy. Furthermore the door that was pissed on wasn’t even the door across from the door from pubnite. It was the door on the side that say “Intercultural Center”. To get to this door from pubnite you must walk past the actual bathrooms, through a door, then past the courtyard filled with plants, to the actual door that was pissed on. If it were simply about convenience of relieving oneself, there were several better, more convenient places to do it.

        • The IC is an open, tolerant, welcoming space which hosts activities that do nothing but foster a sense of community on the campus.

          The IC is the one place at Swarthmore, and indeed my entire life, in which I have been attacked for my gender identity, called “cis scum” over and over again until I stopped coming to the IC entirely. The IC very well may foster a sense of community on campus, but this sense of community is founded on othering people because they’re “not {queer/oppressed} enough”.

          This happened last fall, but if this year’s chalkings are any indication, it’s only gotten worse.

          • It’s stories like this one that affirm my decision not to visit the IC. I belong to some of the groups that the IC is supposed to support; however, because of some of the easily apparent privileges that I have (white, male), I will never go to it.

            Slightly off-topic but I still think it is somewhat pertinent: Swarthmore does an absolutely terrible job supporting those marginalized by socioeconomic class. The IC is supposed to support those people, but like Alex said if you aren’t “{queer/oppressed} enough” it might not be a welcoming place for you. And if you happen to be a straight, white, male who comes from a low-income background, you will have no support system at Swat at all.

  6. I think he sighs because it was not really a “constructive dialog”. It is put in quotes because it was not really a constructive dialog.

  7. We read here of “May mobilizations” and their “energy” — and of a “spirit that lingers on from May.” We read grand declarations: “Enough revisionism and falsehood — this is our history and our truth!” from people striving to make not only Swarthmore but also “the world” a better place, moving “forward into this era of our discontent.”

    The references to May are a a nice touch, calling up echoes of Paris in ’68, dreams perhaps of toppling a Chopp rather than a DeGaulle.

    As intoxicating as it must all be, it’s still nothing more than another strain of creative anachronism. How different is all this, really, than the enthusiasm found amongst dedicated Renaissance Faire goers? How different is all this, really, from some student activists on the Right I used to know?

    Some of those right-wingers were impressive; some could absolutely destroy any anti-capitalist in a debate on economics. Others, back then, knew their Soviet history so well that they could remind the rest of us of the evil at the root of it all when most around them rested on a vague idea of moral equivalence and inevitable convergence.

    But just as many on the Right could not resist their own brand of creative anachronism. They became devotees of Aristotle and the Great Chain of Being. They became high church Anglicans, great proponents of apostolic succession, or Tridentine mass Catholics. They accessorized with bow-ties, Meerschaum pipes and tweeds.

    I love the study of history more than most, but it is always best to remember that “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” Not only differently, but I would go so far as to say worse. My erstwhile Medievalist friends and current Swarthmoreans with fevered dreams of Revolution should try to remember that a skunk only smells sweet from a distance.

  8. I was under the impression that these DG letters had to be signed by individuals, not just campus groups. That’s what I was told when I and some others submitted a letter last year. Why the sudden change in policy?

  9. “to approach the injustices in our social, political, and academic environment with the same rigor, determination, and passion that we normally apply to discussing social justice issues in our classes.” I have yet to talk about social justice issues in class because I study science.

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