On Monday, Swarthmore recognized Indigenous Peoples Day, joining an effort made by many to disentangle and reclaim the widely recognized holiday Columbus Day from its colonialist roots. In light of this, we at The Phoenix think that it is necessary for students, and the broader college community, to actively do more to support Indigenous peoples on campus.
Swarthmore Indigenous Students Association highlighted their concerns in events taking place both in and outside of Parrish. During their event, they called for active support from the community and administration to uplift their voices, reiterating that they are not invisible. No student on this campus should ever have to proclaim that they are not invisible, and it is our responsibility to make this the case. We need to make Swarthmore a safer and more welcoming place for everyone.
Four things the college can do to further these goals are: advocate for the admission and recruitment of more Indigenous students; hire more Indigenous faculty and staff members; create classes and curricula in Indigenous studies; and actively listen to the voices of Indigenous students on campus.
It has been shown time and time again that representation matters in education, and Swarthmore is not immune to this fact. It is worth noting, however, that the admissions office works with College Horizons, a non-profit organization that supports higher education for Indigenous students. This is a commendable partnership, but work still needs to be done to ensure that Indigenous students have the resources and support to be successful at the college once they get here.
This brings to light the need for the college administration to listen to the needs of students and to make themselves more accessible to hear those needs. In her email to campus on Monday, Provost Willie-LeBreton highlighted Swarthmore’s unsettling relationship to the tribal land on which it rests. Such a relationship implies a moral imperative toward reparation and reflection. Let us, then, take on this labor in earnest.