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.
On Friday, March 17th, five (5) members of Mountain Justice (MJ), a student organization focused on tackling environmental issues, received emails threatening disciplinary actions for events that occurred months earlier.
“We were taking turns sitting in the office of the Chief Investment Officer, protesting the Board of Manager’s refusal to not reconsider divestment after the SGO referendum, when Director of Public Safety Mike Hill came up to some of us and threatened disciplinary action,” said Gardner Jackson ’20, “Nothing came of it, and then months later we get these emails. I mean what’s up with that?”
Eye witness accounts state Michael Hull entered the office and said, “It’s well within the rights of students to protest peacefully; however, when the protest disrupts the ability of a person to do their job, we have to draw a line,” to the students helping a staff member shred paper.
President Smith released a statement affirming the right to peaceful protest but also stating that “[the student conduct policy] needs to be applied equally and consistently no matter who breaks it,” which is why warnings were arbitrarily given to 5 of the many MJ members taking turns protesting in the office.
“It’s part of the rule book. We have to enforce it,” said Dean Miller, an administrator of a college that routinely ignores illegal activity such as unpaid student labor.
Students were not the only constituents upset with the administration’s actions. Both faculty and alumni separately wrote letters condemning the administration’s actions. In fact, many alumni threatened to withhold donations if the students were found guilty.
In an interview with the Gazette, MJ member Ariella Huang ’17, stated, “The college cites financial incentives as the main reason for not divesting. So it makes sense that they would go ahead and do something that would cause hundreds of alumni to withhold donations.”
When asked about the obvious irony of teaching about social justice but citing students when they actually practice it, Dean of Students Elizabeth Braun said, “We at Swarthmore pride ourselves on our school’s commitment to social justice. It’s a carefully crafted aesthetic – we have like two whole offices devoted to maintaining that image. Of course when our students actually apply that commitment and want us to do something concrete about the most important social issue of our time, well we can’t have that now can we?”
In other news, Public Safety was seen giving citations to students slacklining on Parrish Beach.