Swat’s in a Name? S’more Than You Think

I am a first-year student, and I already love many aspects of Swarthmore College: the beautiful campus, the unique and compassionate students, the interesting classes, the dedicated professors, and numerous other miscellaneous quirks. I am decidedly not enamored, however, with one very important part of going to Swarthmore: being called a Swattie. Now, please banish the thought that I do not enjoy being a Swarthmore student; that is false. It is simply that the nicknames “Swat” and “Swattie” bring to mind a small, handheld plastic device one would use to demolish flies. I have absolutely nothing against flyswatters, but I would much prefer not to be one.

I am not sure exactly how this nickname for Swarthmore came about, and I mean no offense to those who use it. Historically, however, Swarthmore students went by a name I feel would be vastly superior: “S’more.” Wouldn’t it be much nicer to be a tasty dessert roasted over a campfire than a household implement smeared with fly guts? Besides, a “s’more” brings to mind communal bonfires, goodwill, and peace, which is in keeping with Swarthmore’s Quaker values. Each ingredient in a s’more is equally important (at least, in my opinion), a fact which again suggests the equality of all individuals. In fact, the ingredients must work in concert with one another to form a delectable treat that oozes and crunches and melts satisfyingly in one’s mouth.

Indeed — admissions, are you paying attention? There are a multitude of cheesy (or rather, marshmallowy) analogies ripe for use in Swarthmore’s marketing. For example, a s’more has three parts: marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker. Liberal arts has three branches: humanities, social sciences, and S.T.E.M. You cannot be a true S’more without mastering all three components. And imagine what First Collection would be like if we all toasted a marshmallow when we passed around the candle flame! I think my inner light would be much more valuable (and tasty) if I could utilize it to caramelize some sugary goodness. Besides, we all know the real way to attract students to a school is with food. S’mores are even customizable to all kinds of diets; you can use vegan marshmallows, gluten-free graham crackers, fair-trade chocolate … the possibilities are endless. Just think, admissions, you could even improve that classic e-mail persuading high school seniors to apply by telling them, “Clicking an additional box is no more arduous and taxing than toasting another marshmallow.” As a person who would far rather have another marshmallow on my s’more than another pickle on my burger, I can guarantee that that minor alteration will generate more applicants.

The name “S’more” even goes along with our mascot, Phineas the Phoenix. I have always been perplexed about why our mascot is a phoenix, although I’m not complaining because phoenixes are fantastic creatures. On the other hand, if we were S’mores, we could tell everyone that Phineas rises from the ashes of our burnt marshmallows. Also, it would be so much easier to come up with chants at sporting events if we were “S’mores”: “Let’s get s’more points!”, “Let’s score s’more!” and “Go hard-core s’more” come easily to mind. I’m sure you, dear reader, are rolling your eyes in exasperation, but I came up with those in about five seconds whereas I have yet to think of a single cheer that rhymes with “Garnet” or “Swattie” (other than “potty”, which doesn’t really work for obvious reasons). I’m sure such rhymes exist, but it is fall break as I write this and I do not have the brainpower to think of them.

Thus, instead of saying, “I go to a small liberal arts college near Philadelphia,” we could say, “I go to the college with all the S’mores.” Students at other institutions would be begging to transfer. And honestly, for all we grumble about lacking “marketable skills” after college, there are many, many college graduates who can program in five different languages or write a research paper. There are very few college graduates who can craft a perfect s’more. If we are true S’mores, we will be able to tell potential employers and grad schools, “Not only am I well-rounded … but I’m also well-toasted. Evenly. Perfect and golden on all sides.” I’m sure everyone will be jumping at the chance to hire or admit a well-toasted S’more, as we will be the epitome of a thorough liberal arts education. So honestly, we should all swat away the idea that we should wait s’more to become S’mores.

Finally, for those in the class of ’23 group chat who were wondering: yes, I believe a s’more is a sandwich. 

5 comments

  1. 2
    Curtis Roberts says:

    I graduated in 1975 and, as I recall, the denomination “Swattie(s)” post-dated that. I seem to remember that the Phoenix newspaper used to abbreviate Swarthmore to Swat to save space in headlines and might even have used the term Swattie to describe team members. In any event, it’s awful, has always annoyed me, and I’ve never used it myself. We also didn’t have a college mascot back then and that was fine. Whoever decided that Swarthmore needed a mascot was wrong and the idea should never have made it out of committee.

  2. 2
    Eugene Lang says:

    Somebody finally said it. Well done, brilliant. Board of managers, listen up: my precious coveted donation dollars hinge on changing the demonym is “S’mores.” I hope that by the time I return to the old stomping grounds “Swat” will go the way of Papazian and Hicks, DU and Phi Psi — gone and replaced with something better.

  3. 1
    Beau Weston '82 says:

    I entered the college in 1978. This was just after the popular television show S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics), and we understood our Swat to be derived from the name of the show. Our class used Swat by preference to Swarthmoron, and earlier self-deprecating usage.

  4. 0
    Anonymous says:

    In the spring of 2018, a current student started a petition that was going to be sent to SGO asking them to consider S’Mores as an alternative to Swat / Swatties. Activist groups on campus quickly denounced the initiative and accused it of being a distraction in light of the much more urgent issues being fought for on campus – most importantly, the administration’s failure to act re: fraternity housing & the continued mishandling of title IX cases and the harm those mishandlings were causing.

    Elena, I’m not sure if you’ll receive similar pushback from campus activists in the same way that the student did in spring 2018, considering that fraternities no longer exist at Swarthmore. I would encourage you to consider the same question – how does advocating for a movement like this tip the balance of the scales of what Swarthmore students can and should consider important / devote their time and energy to?

    1. 2
      gd says:

      It’s not that deep… no one’s going to spend time and effort advocating for this other than writing a funny phoenix article or sharing it on facebook. College students are able to advocate for several topics at once. Let us laugh about SOMETHING damn.

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