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.
“I was actually rejected by Swarthmore, so I was very excited at the prospect of teaching here,” says Professor M of the political science department, specializing in political theory. Professor M began his career at Swarthmore as a visiting professor in 2006. Since then, he has acquired tenure and has his office in Trotter 415. “My first official interaction as a visiting professor in the college was the first collection of the class of 2010. I am told this is a Quaker tradition starting with the very first graduating class of Swarthmore. The students were insightful, grateful, and humble. However, my excitement at the prospect of interacting with these young and engaging students was washed away by a sound that still haunts my dreams to this very day.”
The tradition of fingersnapping, or snapplause, as it has more commonly become to be known, is a long lasting one at Swarthmore. No one really knows where it comes from. Some claim that its purpose originates in not wanting to interrupt the speaker receiving the gesture. Some claim that it began from a singular student’s aspiration to appear different and quirky, while not coming across as weird. Professor M has other, more radical notions of its foundations. “The wave of fingersnapping as a sign of approval started as part of a hidden movement in the ‘80s on colleges across the U.S. It is an observable phenomenon, and has been systematically implemented on almost all U.S. colleges. Other tenets of the movement included genderneutral bathrooms, trigger warnings, and they/them pronouns. It is an unspoken truth that this movement was part of a larger movement to incorporate communism in the minds of the youth of our country. Several of my colleagues at previous colleges spoke publicly about this revolution, resulting in their disappearance. Look, I know they tapped my phones. I’m often followed to my house from my office. I know I have no proof, but these fucking Commies control everything, man. You can’t even begin to imagine. Trust me, I know; I’m a political science professor.”
Nervous Nancy ‘17, who took Professor M’s ‘Communism and Why It Sucks’ her sophomore spring, had some unappealing comments to make about the professor. “The title of the class alone should have been an indicator, nevermind the terrible things other students have to say about him. He’s a bit mad. He thinks the government is out to take everything that he owns. I don’t really have a problem with all that, but he’s especially irritable when you snap your fingers in class. I made that mistake once, just once. He instantly stopped lecturing, stared at me, and then just pointed to the door. I had heard stories of him doing this in the past, but I didn’t really believe them. The whole class looked at me in unison, and I knew what I had to do. I walked out of the class and went to my dorm room. I remember crying extra hard at my daily 11:30 pm cry that night.”
Smart Alec ‘19 is currently taking ‘Future Political Theory’ with Professor M. “He’s absolutely crazy. I don’t even know how he became a professor at this college. There was a moment in class when he was talking about his views on the future of capitalism, saying, ‘Capitalism is the best…’ and he had snapped his fingers when he said ‘best’. You could see the blood rush from his face. He took his glasses off, swiftly turned around, and smashed them on the chalkboard. He walked out of the class without an explanation. We really didn’t know what to do, so we waited in shock for a while. Slowly, people started leaving the class and going about their day. I walked past his office and could only hear whimpering, mixed with what sounded like furious masturbation. I could be mistaken, though. The whimpering may have been a loosely screwed fan.”
This semester, spring 2016, is Professor M’s last semester at Swarthmore. He plans to leave and teach at Pomona College, which has banned all fingers on their campus since the fingersnapping riots of 2013.