On Sunday March 3, SGO voted to support Students for Justice in Palestine’s resolution to “ban the ban” and to end the college’s investments in seven companies involved in the occupation of Palestine. That same day, Swarthmore Hate, an anonymous Twitter account, began targeting leaders of SJP and SGO. In a series of tweets, they shared The Phoenix’s news articles, photos, and information about the ongoing SGO vote. They called students antisemitic and dangerous, tagged their personal Twitter accounts, and compared them to KKK leader David Duke. As a board, we condemn these unfounded attacks on student activists and organizers and the use of our publication to reaffirm their message of hate.
The Phoenix aims to serve the student body and Swarthmore community by providing news, relevant information, and the general feelings of the campus on a wide range of issues. Nowhere within that mission supports hatred and the encouragement of violence against anyone.
Journalism is about accountability — of institutions, of political and social actors, of individuals. At its core, it is oppositional to power. In making information accessible and available in its appropriate context to the community, journalism disseminates power.
The reporting that The Phoenix publishes is designed to inform the community on the issues that affect them most. The opinions section is designed for students and community members to discuss those issues openly. We are committed to providing a space for these dialogues. We are not committed to publishing opinions that are not substantiated in facts and personal experiences, that call for violence or hatred against any group or individual, or that deny the lived experiences of others.
Swarthmore Hate has not said who owns the account or why they will not share their views publicly; it is part of a coordinated, political attack that weaponizes a very real issue — antisemitism — to attack students. Anonymity can have a purpose in dialogue. It can ensure the safety of an individual or protect students from retribution. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of that. Anonymity, however, is not meant to be a shield from accountability. If you want to say something that is harmful or controversial that is not a just reason for being anonymous. Threatening the physical and psychological safety of fellow students is not a reason to be anonymous. There is a difference between fearing for your safety when speaking about your beliefs and being afraid of being held accountable.
The harassment of student leaders is not a matter of free speech. Spreading lies under the guise of a personal opinion is not a matter of free speech. As students, we owe it to each other to genuinely engage in conversation in a way that is based in facts and mutual respect. We need to create an environment that encourages activism, that encourages students to speak out about what they believe in. The Phoenix will not be weaponized to attack students for doing just that.