DPA Program Discontinued for 2020-21

On Feb. 10, the Office of Student Engagement sent an email informing the Swarthmore community that OSE is no longer hiring Diversity Peer Advisors and the applications for the next school year have been discontinued, as they are in the process of reinventing the peer leader diversity initiative. 

The DPA program was first established in the fall of 2015. The main purpose of the program is to support student leaders in cultivating an inclusive and safe space for student dialogue. Initially, there were eight peer advisors across three residential halls. In the 2016-2017 academic year, the number of DPAs grew to fourteen across nine different residential halls. However, the program has seen some decline in recent years. In the 2018-2019 school semester, there were only nine DPAs. Currently, in the 2019-2020 school year, there are thirteen DPAs. 

In 2019, the DPA program introduced two new roles: DPA Associates and DPA Interns. The role of DPA Associates is for former DPAs to assist in the building of the program and be a source of support for current DPAs, while the role of DPA Interns is for students to acquire input from the community on the DPA program.

As of now, the details surrounding the successor to the DPA program remain uncertain.

“The Office of Student Engagement and Office of Inclusive Excellence has recently begun a strategic planning process,” stated the OSE in an email to the Swarthmore community.

According to DPA Intern, Jorge Lopez-Nava ‘23, this process will involve the current DPAs and DPA interns. 

“I think this semester that DPAs, the current DPAs and DP Interns, are going to be helping reconstruct the program for next year. [But], we were just told, basically, as much as anyone else has been told about how the program is going to be. It’s not going to be accepting applications for the next school year as they want to renew the entire program,” said Lopez-Nava. 

The brainstorm meeting will happen on Thursday, Feb. 20. 

Lopez-Nava was also one of the applicants who wanted to be a DPA next year. Despite the discontinuation of the program, he is adamant that there is a need for a similar diversity peer leader. 

 “I really thought that the diversity initiative is a big, big importance on any campus. I know back at my own boarding school, I was part of the big diversity initiative and made sure that everyone was well represented, well treated, and that [there was an] environment to thrive for everyone. So I really wanted to continue that at Swarthmore, and I felt like the DPA program was like one of the best programs to do that,” said Lopez-Nava.

Although there have been some DPA-run events this past semester, such as “Cookies and Milk with your DPA,” “DPA’s, Pizzas, and Zine,” and “Meditation Healing Praxis,” the events were not consistently attended. 

Greg Boatman ’23 suggests that the lack of attendance, in comparison to other dorm meetings hosted by SAMs and MMKs led by RAs, was due to the few DPAs and the irregularity of their scheduling. 

“People do tend to go more to MMKs right. Like SAM study breaks, MMKs are more regularly scheduled. So I say that may be why they’re more regularly attended. And I think we know our SAM better than we know our DPA, although I believe it’s because there’s a SAM for Parrish West and there’s a SAM for Parrish East, but there’s just one DPA for Parrish,” said Boatman.

While current DPAs are still an available resource for students to reach out to, OSE is currently undergoing the process of creating a new peer leader diversity initiative for the next academic year. 

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