Swarthmore has long prided itself on the diversity of backgrounds and experiences amongst its students, faculty, and staff. The people who make Swarthmore what it is today all have unique needs and life experiences. Despite these espoused values, Swarthmore does not give its workers days off in the same way most businesses would outside of this institution. The college does not provide workers and students with many federal holidays off such as Labor Day, which poses problems for students and employees alike. Furthermore, the college doesn’t treat Election Day as a holiday — which inherently goes against the recent push to get Swarthmore students to the polls. These are both easily avoidable hindrances for an institution of this size.
Swarthmore’s failure to observe federal holidays places undue pressure on the large number of people it employs. This is especially true for employees who are parents, who are then forced to find childcare for their children — something that the college does not make easily accessible. Professors even occasionally resort to bringing their children to class. They should not have to.
The college goes through great lengths to ensure that students can vote by securing transportation and even offering food as an incentive. They did not, however, ensure that everyone on this campus, including staff, would have time to vote on a Tuesday. We received an email from President Smith and Registrar Martin Warner about the low student turnout in the 2014 midterm. One thing that would have increased turnout? Giving everyone the day off.
This idea is not a foreign one — it has become a nationwide movement to make sure everyone can have adequate time to go wait in long lines to exercise this basic democratic right. Though the college cannot single-handedly make Election Day a federal holiday, it can choose to not have classes in an effort to empower the community to go and take the time to vote.
Acknowledging days like Labor Day or Election Day may seem small or even inconsequential, but we cannot forget the broader implications it can have on the community. Swarthmore needs to rethink its actions and start practicing what it preaches.