Our college constantly touts its commitment to social justice, and though we often fall short in our actions, both as individuals and as an institution, the last two weeks have proven that it’s not an entirely empty commitment.
Students organized a moment of silence and conversation following the grand jury decision to not indict Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. two Mondays ago, which many attended. The following day, administrators organized buses to take dozens of Swatties to march in Philadelphia, showing support and solidarity with Ferguson. This past Tuesday, several people went one step further and showed up to a town hall meeting to strategize over future actions. Professors have set aside theories and textbooks to address the very real pain that Foucault can only theorize about.
We commend those who have broken the silence, who have taken steps against these displays of injustice. We commend those who have been speaking, organizing and acting around these issues long before Ferguson brought national attention to this humanity-long problem.
That being said, we must remember that Swarthmore is an institution that exists within the system that failed to indict Wilson. Our efforts to organize mean nothing if we do not recognize that our campus is not impervious to racism. Despite our commitment to social justice, for example, we continue to recruit a largely white faculty.
Nonetheless, we are proud of and thankful to those of you who care and have acted on that care. As we look towards the rest of the country, though, we should remember that there is also work to be done here — that we are not immune to the outside world. The Swat bubble is just that — a bubble. And it is not made of iron or steel.
With the recent decision to not indict Daniel Pantaleo, we hope that all of you not let Ferguson be a fleeting headline. Just as importantly, we hope that students, faculty and administrators take this moment to engage in some reflection and discussion.