Open Letter to the Students Who Vandalized the Intercultural Center

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally edited by and for publication in Voices.

Last weekend, on the night of Friday, April 19, the Intercultural Center  was vandalized with neon purple and orange paint, splattered not only across artwork created by a community in search of a safer, more united campus, but also left on the pavement in front of, and the door to, the IC Big Room. This is not the first time that the IC has been vandalized; in 2013, urine was found on the main door to the IC, and as a result of this prior vandalism, the IC has installed surveillance cameras. Public Safety and the Bias Response Team are in the process of investigating the most recent incident.

Upon hearing the news via social media, those of us who work as IC interns were aghast to see a space we hold so dearly be disrespected. The Intercultural Center, is, has been, and will continue to be a safe space and a source of community for all students at Swarthmore, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, class, or any other social identity they may possess, but especially for those whose identities have historically been marginalized. We choose to work at the Center, to come in weekly for shifts and project hours, because we recognize the incredible potential that the IC holds to serve as a home for the student body. We uplift the IC as a space for meaningful and powerful student advocacy. As interns, we also strive to foster a safe, multicultural and multi-background community for Swarthmore, one that is kind, respectful, and supportive; that embraces difference; that values and grows from its diversity. The vandalism of our community space, a space that for many of us is the closest to a home that Swarthmore has to offer, threatens the safety of our beloved Intercultural Center. In committing this act, you, the vandals, have tried to intimidate exactly those voices which we as an intern team aim to uplift.

We write as members of the IC Intern team not only to express our disgust and anger but also to make a call to action: hold yourself accountable for your actions. Apologize to the Swarthmore community, the IC staff, and the IC interns. Work with us in our goals of cultivating a safe and loving community. Learn more about the IC and the work we do. Attend our events. Speak to our staff. Although we recognize the potential for your words to be empty and without remorse, we still offer you the chance to participate in a healing process in good faith. We do not want any more pain. We do not want any more damage. We want to come together as a community to grow, reflecting on the purpose of the IC.

You will not intimidate us, and we will continue to be there for each other. Though your actions have disrespected our community, we are strong, empowered, impassioned, and inspired. We will heal with or without you, and though we may be shaken, we will not be broken.

Sincerely, the following Intercultural Center Interns:

Gene Witkowski

Chase Smith

Olivia Robbins

Shelby Dolch

Daniela Gómez

Wilber Dominguez

Dakota Gibbs

Josie Hung

Paul Buchanan

Kenny Mai

Zain Talukdar

Ferial Berjawi

Sokeyra Francisco

Robby Jimenez

Mohammed Bappe

Clarissa Phillips

Kent Chen

Taty Hernandez

Editor’s note: On April 25, Swarthmore Public Safety determined that the individuals responsible for the vandalism were not affiliated with the College community. The responsible individuals will be accountable for restitution and will be banned from College property.

1 Comment

  1. Dear IC center interns: You’re at a 10 and we need you at like a 3, m’kay? Orange and Blue paint is just orange and blue paint. This is not your critical race theory class with a concentration on the dichotomous relationship between paint colors and gender/race. Stop trying to be Maude Levi-Strauss and Karl Barks and get out of that safe space once and awhile and see how the rest of us live!

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