Both Fraternities Disband on Day Four of Ongoing Coalition Sit-In

On Saturday April 27, a student accompanied by two friends called Public Safety claiming to have forgotten her wallet in the basement of the Phi Psi fraternity house. After an officer let her in,  she allowed in dozens more students who had been waiting nearby to enter.

At times, over one hundred students were present at the Phi Psi lodge. The student activists, led by the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence, sang chants, cleaned the space, and put up posters with messages including “this house is ours” and “decades of violence behind this door.”  Hours into the protest, President Smith announced an external investigation into the leaked documents in an email to the community.

The Coalition to End Fraternity Violence, which was formed after The Phoenix and Voices reported on over one hundred pages of redacted documents, including meeting minutes, photos, videos and pledging plans, led the sit-in.

Three days after the sit-in began, both Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon fraternities each unanimously voted to disband their organizations and return the lodges to the college.

Once protesters entered Phi Psi, Public Safety and fraternity leadership each called the police at different times during the first day of the protest.

“Public Safety called Swarthmore Borough police as a result of the students’ behavior and to ensure that there was no escalation. One officer responded, assessed the situation, and later left. Public Safety works closely with Swarthmore Borough Police to ensure the safety of every member of our community and of visitors to campus,” Director of Public Safety Mike Hill said. “When Phi Psi learned the students planned to stay overnight, Phi Psi leadership independently requested police assistance.”

Fraternity leadership, on behalf of the Phi Psi fraternity said that they were given the option by Swarthmore Borough Police to have the protesters arrested, but declined to do so.

“We were also informed by the Swarthmore Police Department that it was well within our rights to have the student protestors removed from the leased property and arrest any individuals who did not comply with police. Ultimately, we decided as a fraternity not to move forward with this,” Phi Psi wrote in a statement to The Phoenix.

On Saturday, April 27, members of Phi Psi ridiculed and mocked protesters in the time before they called the police.

“[Members of Phi Psi] were mocking the things that we were doing because we were clapping and chanting and protesting and they were laughing at it … and videotaping it,” Sarah Leonard ’21 said. “It wasn’t one person ‘being stupid.’ It was a group of them.”

When asked to respond to multiple witness reports that members of Phi Psi mocked protesters, a statement on behalf of the fraternity noted that the brothers had been under strain.

“Some of our brothers were shocked to see the protesters inside the leased property. We were told to wait outside the property for college administrators to come address the situation. These past few weeks have taken an incredible mental toll on everyone involved, including us,” the Phi Psi statement said.

The presence of both Phi Psi brothers and police subsided by Sunday.

Hill said that multiple police officers were present after Phi Psi leadership called the police on Saturday but by the early hours of Sunday morning the police were gone.

“Swarthmore Borough Police left the area at approximately 2:00 a.m. [Sunday] and a Swarthmore College Public Safety Officer remained,” Hill said.

Olivia Smith ’20, an O4S core member, said that she feels that the leases are evidence of the college giving the fraternities power. She also said that Phi Psi called the police on their fellow students against the wishes of the college.

“The police presence, except for the very first time that Public Safety called [which was], as an immediate response … [was] a calculated move by other students on this campus. And the reason that they have the authority to do that was because they have the space that was given to them by the college,” Smith said. “The college didn’t want Phi Psi to call the cops. So Phi Psi called the cops against our will, and the will of the college.”

One of the central demands of the protesters was for the college to terminate the fraternity leases. Organizing for Survivors has called for the end to the fraternity leases since last spring, when the group formed and released their initial list of demands. The lodges are leased to the fraternities by the college. The annual lease ends on July 30th.

Four days into the protest, both fraternities disbanded and stated that they would be renouncing their leases.

Delta Upsilon was the first fraternity to announce that they were disbanding themselves at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday April 30.

“Over the last few weeks, Swarthmore Delta Upsilon has listened to the concerns and feelings of the campus community. After much discussion, the members of Delta Upsilon have unanimously decided that disbanding our fraternity is in the best interest of the Swarthmore community.”

Approximately an hour after DU’ s announcement, Phi Psi independently announced that they were also disbanding. The group cited their reaction to the released documents.

“We were appalled and disgusted by the content of these minutes, which led us to question our affiliation with an organization whose former members could write such heinous statements. We cannot in good conscience be members of an organization with such a painful history,” Phi Psi said in a statement.

The protesters celebrated the dissolution of the fraternities, which occurred on Tuesday night, with cheers, hugging, and crying. They also chanted.

In a statement to the community late Tuesday, President Valerie Smith called for civility, particularly online.

“We cannot tolerate unsubstantiated attacks directed at individual students or student groups—as too many students have recently endured. Social media posts by members of our community that target individual students or make gross generalizations about student groups are unacceptable. Nor can we tolerate attempts to exclude students from open campus events based on their affiliations.”  

Later Tuesday night, some members of Phi Psi posted group photos online of the members at a local bar. The posts showed members of the fraternity drinking and smiling. According to Ben Stern, ’20, the attitude of the posts contradicted the statement that the fraternity posted.

“The photos and captions basically said that despite being kicked out of their house and ‘disbanding,’ they would forever be members of the frats,” he said.

In an update to the community, the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence said that they planned to remain in the house until administration formally terminates the fraternity leases and bans Phi Psi and DU. The Task Force charged with examining Greek Life is set to release its recommendations at the end of this week.

Laura Wagner

Laura '20 is from Dover, Delaware. She is in the honors program studying political science and economics. Outside of the classroom and the newsroom, her interests include running, politics, and really good books.

11 comments

  1. 55
    R.P.M. Class of '88 says:

    As an non-Greek alumni, not only am I withdrawing my financial support to the College and everything that comes with that, I am also withdrawing my support via internships and fulltime positions for students of the College, at least not without additional up front vetting. I can’t help but be somewhat embarrassed by your actions. To other business owners out there, these are the types to jeopardize your whole organization. They’re never wrong in their eyes and are prone to becoming entirely distracted by the illusion of change, especially in places that it doesn’t belong. I know this from experience – I have had a hard time getting production from the handful of left-leaning Swatties I have had on staff. And predictably, they all wound up going back to grad school.

    I thought that SJW’s were a minority at Swarthmore, but this cancer appears much larger than originally thought. I would strongly advise anyone be careful offering positions to Swatties like these based on issues I’ve had issues in the past.

  2. 51
    This might not be for you... says:

    MESSAGE TO ANYONE CURRENTLY CONSIDERING A SWARTHMORE EDUCATION, FROM A RECENT ALUM:

    I loved my time at Swarthmore, and the fraternities were a big part of that. I would go back to the fall of 2012 and do it all again. But I would not go to Swarthmore today to begin in the fall of 2019 or beyond. The number of extreme, naive liberals has increased over the past few years, and now basically half of the campus is comprised of AOC wannabes. There is far more hate on campus than there was in my early years at Swat, and the liberals are among the most close-minded people I have ever encountered.

    If you feel any speck of privilege, Swarthmore is not for you. Guilt will be forced upon you over and over again. It’s just not worth it. You must feel the pain and suffering of the “marginalized” students (who in reality are the conservative white kids here, ha). If you consider yourself a normal, easygoing person, Swarthmore is not for you. Your voice will not be heard over all of the children screaming. There are other elite schools, there are other gorgeous campuses, and there are other places that want you. I’d suggest that you let this liberal extremism fester into a cesspool of toddlers, unicorns, and LARPers without you. You have no idea how off-putting this student body can really be, so don’t expose yourself to it at all.

    1. 0
      your literal life is my worst nightmare '19 says:

      If your best times at swat were chugging beer at hootenany or paint party you sir need to take a good look in the mirror and wonder if youre ever given a woman an orgasm. guess what? u haven’t. i bet all that beer is why your hairline is receding too, which i can tell it is from this stupid ass comment

  3. 43
    Class of 2016 says:

    I applaud the fraternities’ decisions. They had a lot of pressure on them and I do think that they made the right call. But it’s really a shame that that these radical actions used by students to gain leverage are now justified in a way, and I know that I’m not the only one who feels this. I’m worried about this school, this student body, and where it is headed.

    Hopefully the students who had so much energy to disband the frats find a way to parlay this into meaningful results, because this by itself has done nothing. Students will find new places to get drunk and make poor decisions, people still don’t have a grasp for what consent implies, etc. etc. I hope that this energy continues but in a way that makes material rather than perceived changes.

  4. 39
    Alum says:

    FratBash19’ has officially jumped the shark. My guess is Laura had a story all written up and the frats ruined it by disbanding. Although entertaining, this article is a reach. Phi Psi had every right to call the police and find out what their options were. They paid for the lease and that right, plus they paid for the insurance on the house. God forbid there would be another fire on campus because someone was carelessly smoking something. Their personal property was and still is inside. We’ll see how that ends up after the “peaceful” protest ends. They also had every right to have the protesters arrested BUT DIDN’T, to the chagrin of O4S or the Coalition of…whatever… I bet they had their cell phones all charged up for that perp walk. So now to the leases…Now that the houses are open, what group is going to pony up the money to lease and insure the property now? Oh wait! Small Liberal college? The school should pay or at least someone else should right? I say lease them to Five Guys and Chipotle. Sharples is just nasty. Let’s talk open party space too. This group of 100 students out of 1600 have single-handedly transformed Swarthmore into the most boring college campus in America. Remember all those free parties, with all that free beer and wine? Gone. Maybe Val will send pub safe down to Brewers and have them pick up 5 kegs for the party Saturday night. Yeah, don’t think so. I’ll end it with the group of Phi Psi brothers who went out and had a drink after giving up their fraternity membership and their house to the mob. Too bad I wasn’t there or I would have picked up the tab. Those boys are friends, will always be friends and are about the only ones they have right now. I doubt they will be gathering in the dark of night in the Crum woods dressed in black cloaks around a fire on Saturday nights….(Hmmm..I think you should send a crack investigative reporter down there this weekend to make sure) If they want to be friends, post pictures having a good time as friends, then let them. Maybe embrace what they did or actually get to know them. Multiple brothers have gay and lesbian siblings or come from biracial families. Bet you didn’t know that either. Well on to the next battle. Who else can offend us? Instead, take a deep breath and try to enjoy this time in your lives a little more. It sucks being miserable all the time. The real world awaits and you won’t get this chance again.

    1. 12
      Alum says:

      Wow! Called that one didn’t I. They actually took their property from the house. I believe it was referred to as “offensive relics” and “stolen goods”. Looked more to me like beer signs and old street signs you can buy at a swap meet for $5. I also loved the video’s when confronted by the police and campus security. Too bad they didn’t get cuffed. That would have been great publicity. One last thing, I get dibs on the Old Milwaukee sign when this thing is over. Reminds me of my college days!

      1. 0
        Planetlaguza says:

        I loved my time at Swarthmore, and the fraternities were a big part of that. I would go back to the fall of 2012 and do it all again. But I would not go to Swarthmore today to begin in the fall of 2019 or beyond. The number of extreme, naive liberals has increased over the past few years, and now basically half of the campus is comprised of AOC wannabes. There is far more hate on campus than there was in my early years at Swat, and the liberals are among the most close-minded people I have ever encountered.

      2. 0
        youre a dumbass '19 says:

        Lmaoooo get your crusty ass out of here and back to disappointing your wife. no one cares if phi psi members have gay siblings….they say more slurs than any one on this campus. they have no god given right to that house or to get drunk in it, and these students proved that so stay mad.

      3. 0
        sjw '19 says:

        lmaooooo get your crusty ass out of here back to disappointing your wife. no one cares if phi psi brothers have gay siblings, i feel bad for those sibling cause these boys use more slurs than anyone else on campus. have fun staying mad!

  5. 1
    Jane says:

    O4S needs to stop. They’re ruining lives and emotionally damaging people. They’re blaming the former brothers of the fraternities for the minutes of 2013, which none of them had any association with. Criminal harassment, vandalism and breaking and entering into the Phi Psi house is their only form of reason. The students on campus today cannot be blamed for something of the past. Stop being petty, get over yourselves, and realize that you’re doing harm and nothing good will come out of this.

  6. 0
    Jane says:

    Honestly, this is disgusting. It’s disgusting that O4S can criminally harass and vandalize fraternity brother’s property and somehow still be the victim. The brothers in both fraternities are emotionally damaged because they can’t go one day without being called a rapist, misogynist, racist or some other offensive name. O4S has done nothing but harm other people because they won’t stop until they have what they want. The “leaked documents” that they talk about are from 2013, no brother that was part of the frat during that time is still on campus. It’s horrible that O4S can get away with the criminal harassment, vandalism, and breaking into the frat house. Even after the frats have disbanded, nothing has changed, they’re still being accused and harassed daily. O4S is a group of femi-natzis that won’t listen to reason. Have fun ruining peoples lives with false accusations, because you’re awful people that need to be stopped and understand that what the frat brothers did in 2013 has nothing to do with the frat brothers this year.

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