Better Know the News: Spring 2009 News Summary

Let’s be honest: after you turn in your last final, thinking about all the messed-up drama that our small, (beloved?) liberal arts college can sometimes rouse up is… well… probably the last thing you want to do. Seeing that word on the street is that you’ve forgotten all your Swat News, the Gazette is going to walk you through a (somewhat biased) recap of some of the top stories from last semester that may have some lingering relevance to your life this semester. They could be wholly unresolved issues (will the deer ever be culled?), or simply relate to themes and issues that are—for whatever reason—still relevant today. Don’t wait for a visit from the Ghost of Swarthmore Past.

  • The future of funding for the annual Sager Symposium on LGBT/Q issues became uncertain when endowing alumnus Richard Sager ’73 indicated that he had significant concerns as to the evolution and management of the Symposium, and that he may wish to direct the Sager Fund toward other LGBT/Q-relevant purposes. As for the operations of this past Spring’s Symposium, the Symposium Planning Committee announced that the annual Social Affairs Committee-hosted Genderfuck Party, up to that point de facto attached to the Sager main, would henceforth be officially severed from the Symposium. The Committee indicated that its primary concern was that the party’s atmosphere had not only become an unsafe space for queer, female and genderfucking students, but that it was in general antithetical to safe partying. These concerns were apparently sparked by some reports to the Symposium Planning Committee concerning sexual harassment and misconduct at previous years’ events. Nevertheless, both the Symposium (with the theme of Intersections of Queer: Coalition Building Across Our Communities) and the Genderfuck Party occurred without notable interruption, and indeed to (arguably) some success.
  • Draft plans from the Human Resources department published by the Gazette in April HR was planning to change pay category levels for 69 student job definitions, with 65 of those being pay downgrades. HR indicated that the proposed changes were to address both inequities within a general job category (some departments paying more than others for the same job), and across the system in general (perceived overpayment of certain “low-skill” or “easy” positions compared to positions judged as being more technical or difficult). In addition to the proposed changes to pay categories, HR was also in the process of launching an online payroll system, which is now in place.
  • In April, Student Council proposed that unused rollover money from the Student Activities Fund to the tune of anywhere from $15,000 to $90,000 should be used to fund worthwhile initiatives at the college. An online vote held by StuCo indicated widespread support of the overall idea (87% approval), with the most favor given projects seeking to buy additional copies of expensive course textbooks to be placed on reserve in the library, and to establish a revolving loan fund for investment in sustainable projects on campus.
  • In May, a student living in Wharton found a firearm-wielding intruder emerging from her closet, who then fled when the student began to scream. The student was unharmed, and only a cell phone was stolen from her room. The event raised significant debate concerning dorm safety vis-a-vis door propping and alleged lack of proper suspicion toward unknown individuals in residential halls. It also caught the attention of the local media.
  • After three years at the college, then Dean of Students Jim Larimore announced that he would be departing Swarthmore to accept a position as Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Life and Dean of Students at NYU Abu Dhabi. This news came at the heel of the announcement of Rebecca Chopp as the college’s new President, replacing Al Bloom as he left to become Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi.

(Any other stories that you think might be relevant to keep in mind for the coming year? [Even ones covered by a certain paper named after a certain mythological, reincarnating bird?] Comment and let us know!)


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