The Human Microphone Shakes Up Sharples: Swat’s First General Assembly

At Swarthmore’s first ever General Assembly on Thursday, dozens of students gathered at Sharples to speak and listen to concerns around the community. This experiment in direct democracy, which ran during dinner from six to seven, was modeled on the recent Occupy protests, though Swarthmore’s GA avoided discussing Wall Street or the economy.

When the meeting began, the organizers, including Will Lawrence ’13, Zein Nakhoda ’12, Rebekah Judson ’12, and Dani Noble ’12 (among several others) seemed unsure what sort of turnout they might get. The start time was delayed as empty seats were shuffled back and forth. However, soon enough, a small crowd had gathered, and as the speakers began the assembly using the human microphone—the collective repetition of the speakers’ words by the entire crowd—more and more onlookers gathered around. By 6:45, a wide circle had enveloped a full quarter of the dining hall.

Not counting the few procedural gaffes that accompany any inaugural college activity, the General Assembly ran smoothly and earnestly. A facilitator continuously scanned the crowd, taking down the name of anyone interested in speaking. After establishing some safe space guidelines, the participants produced an endless stream of comments, complaints, and suggestions for the group to consider. One by one, individuals were called on to speak by the facilitators, their every phrase echoed by the human microphone crowd.

Administration transparency was the hot-button issue of the night, as audience members faulted the Dean’s office, the Treasurer, and President Chopp for taking a behind-closed-doors attitude towards the budget, investment, and sexual abuse reports. According to one speaker, the College Budget Committee has not convened once yet this semester. “It sounds like an important committee,” said the speaker, Will Lawrence, who also helped plan the assembly. “Well, I guess it’s not!” he exclaimed, to applause and finger twinkles—a wiggly-fingered hand gesture the audience adopted to communicate excitement and solidarity. Others expressed deep concern that sexual assault cases were being dangerously swept under the rug, and a few students wondered why it is impossible to request that the college change its investment practices. Another student pointed out that the college is in the third year of a hiring freeze: “that’s fucked!” she said, exasperated.

Women’s issues, especially regarding the sorority proposal and ensuing brouhaha, also garnered a significant amount of attention. Though no one went so far as to suggest banning greek life on campus, a handful of speakers called it an essentially gender-discriminatory institution. Others expressed support of the sorority idea. Multiple co-creaters of the proposal took their turns to speak, defending their hoped-for sorority’s positive nature and their desire to work with other women’s groups, including the WRC. A member of LaSS reminded the assembly that that organization is not affiliated with the sorority idea, and encouraged students to look up the proposal and read it.

Other concerns, including misrepresentation of diversity offerings during campus tours, the underfunding of student cooking (at Paces Café and Mary Lyons breakfast), and a proposal for voluntary Weekly Friday Collection at the Scott Ampitheater were all discussed during the meeting. One speaker promoted the Swat Women’s Union proposal, which is due to premier in a Gazette letter to the editor today.

As for the future of this small but enthusiastic movement, participants seemed pleased with the exposure and expressed a desire to convene another General Assembly sometime in the future. One organizer stressed his hopes that the community could establish a permanent forum, either online or in assembly fashion, so students could keep up the conversations about their concerns. These conversations, it was clear, were only just beginning. Two proposals to occupy Parrish came out of the assembly (for two different reasons), and Callie Feingold ’12, for one, was excited to continue the conversation about kitchen funding at a later date.

Students left energized by the event. “Actually seeing activism on campus is exciting,” said Melissa Tier ’14. “It shows activism can be small campus issues, not just ‘fixing Chester.’ And the human mike was awesome!” Zein Nakhoda ’12, one of the organizers, called the event “the best student conversation I’ve seen at Swarthmore.”

Photo by Zein Nakhoda


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79 comments

  1. 0
    Mary says:

    I have been wondering why a report of rape would go through the college: wouldn’t it be reported to the police independent of the college?

    The rape victim, prior to taking a bath or shower should go directly to an ER for a rape kit to be done by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (S.A.N.E. Nurse)and then do a police report.
    http://www.ojp.gov/ovc/publications/infores/sane/saneguide.pdf

    Generally colleges and universities and student groups publicize rape victim hotlines, and outline the steps used to report, as it is key to go directly to the ER or police, to get the rape kit done for evidence. The state should take care of the prosecution of the case.

    In the case of domestic violence, a restraining order can be obtained, but this does require going through court. Campus groups against domestic violence, rape and abuse can be extremely helpful with these issues.

  2. 0
    Phil C. says:

    I have no strongly-felt opinion on the use of the human mic, but I was recently impressed by some reflections on its virtues at New APPS:

    http://www.newappsblog.com/2011/11/the-human-mic-and-the-construction-of-discursive-space.html#more

    Of course, there are reasons to be critical of the particular Sharples use of the human mic (mostly related to noise in an already noisy environment). I’d be interested, however, to hear detractors of the concept of general engage with some of the virtues touted in the blog. Thoughts?

  3. 0
    HC '09 says:

    If you need to provide the administration with an incentive to act on an issue, write a letter describing your complaint. Make it brief, definitely less than a page. Bring it to a meeting with President Chopp and show it to her, and let her know that you will be sending it to the people found in these lists: https://swatfiles.swarthmore.edu/departments/Communications/Public/Donor%20Report%202010.xapp/index.wiki

    Of course, the letter should ask these donors to reconsider giving to Swarthmore until the administration takes meaningful steps to stop/start/other verb whatever it is you’re upset about.

    Will it work? Who knows. But seeing as they spend lots of time and money trying to raise money (did you know there are 42 people listed as giving staff?), maybe they’ll start to take your concerns more seriously.

  4. 0
    trendy? ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Also, did the openness of the venue at Sharples increase the number of attendants for non-convenience reasons: that is, did people attend because it’s trendy to do so? If it were in Sci 191 (the other big room in the science center), would as many people participated? Would people have used the human microphone? Would people actually have made the effort to go?

    1. 0
      Abigail Henderson '14 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      You make a valid point, trendy, but so does I’m Sorry. Hosting a GA in the corner of Sharples with a human mic can make some students come over to join, but it can make other students stay away because of the mob-like overtones. The fact that you can’t understand what is being said also makes it less accessible to those at far-away tables and easier to criticize. What exactly would be the problem with hosting an outdoor GA on the way to/from Sharples? An outdoor GA would also include those who are not on the meal plan or have other reasons for not actually going into Sharples. (I do understand that the cold weather is setting in, though :/ ) Also, as to the human vs. electronic mic, I think both sides have good points, but I fear that the organizers of the GA favor the human mic and therefore the alternative will never get tried. Why don’t we try it with a real mic and evaluate the pros and cons later? Then we will avoid speculative argument and give voice to perhaps a different set of people than those who attended the first GA, which I think is ultimately the goal.

  5. 0
    Paul Cato says:

    (If/as you read this please realize that I speak from a point of complete humility and am in no way trying to patronize or judge. I apologize if it appears that way. Also keep in mind that I’ve been up all night watching Charlie Brown specials and its currently 5:00 AM so it might be a tiny bit over the top/sentimental, Chuck does that to me).

    As corny as this may sound, I think we all need to take a deep breath: a moment to remember all we have been given, and time to gather the peace of mind to go forth as a community and better our school. Let us continue to engage with one another, but let’s move towards expanding the discourse to include others on this campus as well: staff, professors, dare I say – deans.

    I some times find myself falling into the trap of viewing Swat as a place wherein dichotomies/”opposing forces” are ever-present. Be it the administration vs. student body or sorority supporters vs. the sorority-wary, the need for people on campus, to challenge, respond, and consider can sometimes be overwhelming.

    Despite all this I *must* continue to remind myself and others that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and that Swat is more than the opposing parties which spring up with the rising of each new major issue. This truly is an amazing place, made so by all members of the community – be they students, faculty, administrators, or staff. Everyone here is imbued with passion – where else can you find some fifty students so concerned as to write 200+ comments on ONE online op-ed or a small group of individuals ready to take it upon themselves to remedy a situation which they feel has sustained longterm inequity? Seeing this passion and discourse first hand on Discovery Weekend 2008 was the reason I applied and came.

    Let’s celebrate this discourse but in doing so let us remember always to respect each other. These issues are already too personal as it is. If there’s anything that frustrates me its the tension I’ve felt over the course of the past three weeks. We can’t make true progress without the sense of community that makes us great. I say we come back from break rested, well-fed and eager to push for change, but ever mindful of those who may disagree with us. True change comes only through unity and compromise – two things disrespect keeps from ever coming about.

    – Paul

    1. 0
      Paul Cato says:

      (We should also listen to the advice JD Salinger gave one of his characters 56 years ago, today):

      “What I don’t like at all is this little hair-shirty private life of a martyr you’re living back at college — this little snotty crusade you think you’re leading against everybody. And I don’t mean what you may think I mean, so try not to interrupt for a second. I take it that mostly you’re gunning against the system of higher education… These other people you’ve been ranting about are something else again…. I’ve had them by the dozens, and so has everybody else, and I agree they’re not harmless. They’re lethal as hell, as a matter of fact. God almighty. They make everything they touch turn absolutely academic and useless. Or — worse — cultish. To my mind, they’re mostly to blame for the mob of ignorant oafs with diplomas that are turned loose on the country every June.”… “But what I don’t like — and what I don’t think either Seymour or Buddy would like, either, as a matter of fact — is the way you talk about all these people. I mean you don’t just despise what they represent — you despise them. It’s too damn personal, Franny. I mean it…. If you’re going to to war against the System, just do your shooting like a nice, intelligent girl — because the enemy’s there, and not because you don’t like his hairdo or his goddam necktie.”
      — Zooey, JD Salinger (Franny and Zooey)

  6. 0
    xxdirtycommiehippie69xx says:

    Congrats on your first Gazette post! Glad to hear it’s been a positive experience and hope ya keep posting 🙂

    I definitely don’t think the human mic promotes group think, kind of the opposite, really. It forces people to, by repetition, be more engaged with what’s being said. If everyone’s repeating everything, they’re also hearing everything twice-once from the speaker and once out of their own mouth. The repetition allows people to think over what’s been said, and think about whether they agree with it or not. It allows the speaker’s opinions to be simultaneously heard and mulled over by the group. You may find yourself more critical of a statement or proposal once you hear yourself say it (I know I have). Even if you don’t agree with something, you’re acknowledging that that person’s opinion deserves to be heard. If you disagree, then you can raise your hand and have everyone (including the person you disagree with!) repeat what you’re saying. That’s true, not everyone can speak in the GA, but there are very few forums where everyone can speak in a reasonable time. At least at Swat’s GA, we tried to get everyone to speak who wanted to. At other Occupy sites, they’re holding GA’s every day (which isn’t terribly feasible at Swat) so people have more opportunities to voice their concerns.

    1. 0
      trendy? ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Your comment is total BS. You may believe it and it might work for you, but vocal repetition does not increase comprehension among listeners uniformly, if at all.

      Assuming that emotion based reasoning is of lesser quality than reason based, it’s also possible that by shouting, the speaker becomes more emotional, and less able to articulate strictly non-ad-hominem statements. So the statements are worse than those articulated through electronic amplification.

      1. 0
        xxxi says:

        I agree. Repetition might lead to reflection and contemplation in the right environment or context, but certainly not here. When you are in a crowd and you are in this type of mood and you and everyone around you knows the agenda of the day, how can there be any doubt that repetition in the form of group chanting functions merely as an echo chamber for the predominant view, whatever it may be? It takes a fair bit of tortured logic, or wishful thinking, to claim otherwise.

        Also, responding to someone who wrote earlier about this being about the administration’s egregious mishandling of cases of sexual assault: if students are being raped and “sent to the hospital” from “repeated violent assault” and the administration is ignoring it and the victims have to see their perpetrators “in lab or in class” every day because the perpetrators are allowed to go free without being brought to justice — and you or anyone at this assembly has evidence of all this — then the appropriateness of staging demonstrations along tour routes is really a moot point because it would really be time to call the police and bring in the television cameras. So when are you going to call the police and bring in the television cameras?

        1. 0
          Jonah says:

          uhh, im not really sure what agenda you are referring to, there wasnt much of one. There were two general topics for discussion which were 1) Student issues (could be relating to swat culture, student life, parties, really anything about life at swat) and 2) experiences with the administration (a time to describe stories of interactions with the admin, could be from a student group or an individual, could be a good thing or a bad thing, etc.) We told people that those were the general topics we wanted to get into, but other than that, it was pretty free form.

          Also, let me say that there wasnt really a “predominant view,” in fact, there were many different views. Some people were for certain issues, some were against them. Some times people agreed on things, sometimes people disagreed. The facilitators of the meeting didnt really speak much about their personal views.

          1. 0
            Jonah says:

            uhh, maybe because thats the stuff that lots of people want to talk about? maybe its not some crazy coincidence? maybe there are some actual issues with how the admin deals with student issues?

          2. 0
            xxxi says:

            Fair enough, there wasn’t an explicit agenda. But somehow the topics that were eventually converged upon were issues that I could have successfully guessed at. Somehow I had a feeling that it would be about transparency problems and faults of the administration rather than people sharing lovely stories about chats with the deans. Hmm I wonder why.

        2. 0
          JSS says:

          You know pressing charges in a criminal court roughly requires a lawyer, right? And that the police don’t have a good track record in dealing with domestic violence or with queer or trans people, or if the person’s been drinking? The TV cameras wouldn’t give a shit. Women are raped every day. Trans and queer folks are victims of violence. It only gets attention when it’s an attack by a stranger on a pretty white woman or when it’s a tragic story, and no one’s died yet so it doesn’t exactly qualify.

          *TRIGGER WARNING*
          I never ended up in the hospital myself, although I definitely needed medical attention, but after exhausting administrative options and having deans tell me it was my fault, I did have to sit through labs where my abuser would follow me around like a puppy. No one gave a shit. He wasn’t leaving marks on me anymore, and when he had he would trap me in his room or threaten me with more violence if I went to anyone. I didn’t have physical documentation of his attacks, so I didn’t have options. It’s really not so easy as simply going to the cops and having our beautiful (unjust) justice system intervene. I mean, I could try to press charges, but I was told that it was unlikely to succeed, because I stayed with him for a while, because I had consented at least once, because it wasn’t bad enough for legal protection.

          The school has a responsibility to protect the safety of its students. It has not, and it refuses to. Protesting in public ways is a reasonable next step. The justice system is a little too big for me to take on with my classmates, but Swarthmore’s administration is not an enormous monolithic entity and thus here, our actions might have power.

          1. 0
            xxxi says:

            *Trigger warning*

            Wait a second. Multiple times you reported being violently assaulted, publicly stalked/harassed, and even kidnapped and trapped in your abuser’s room, all of which occurred here on campus, and the administration did nothing about it and in fact said it was your own fault? Just because you may been in a relationship with this person in the past, the administration dismissed what you told them about being raped? Sorry, this sounds so horrible that I’m having a hard time understanding it. Is this what you meant or am I missing something?

            Isn’t the administration breaking the law by failing to report cases of sexual assault to the proper authorities? These sound like grounds for a huge scandal. I’m not sure why you think that the cops would be unsympathetic and that the media wouldn’t care. I am shocked by this and I think that others would be.

          2. 0
            trendy? ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Indeed, and perhaps obviously, the accusation is a serious one, and demanding more punishment beyond that which exists in the legal system for those with only hearsay evidence is a difficult case to make. It’s obviously not optimal without constraints, but with punishment so severe, it should be easy to see why a consistent basis of evidence is requisite.

      2. 0
        xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

        Thanks for your diplomacy, trendy? .

        I do believe it and it does work for me, but also for the movement.

        See: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/fault-lines/2011/10/10/ows-human-mic and http://www.npr.org/2011/10/06/141109428/the-nation-we-are-all-human-microphones, or just talk to more folks who’ve spent time at Occupy sites.

        I think there’s actually a lot of worth in emotion, and that reason and emotion aren’t mutually exclusive. There’s value in both (“Maybe I’m confused…” makes a nice point on this above). I also don’t think that the speaker in the human mic is blinded by emotion and incapable of formulating logical, reasonable statements. If someone is overcome by emotion, or is going to make a completely reactionary statement, chances are that the means of communication–electronic or human mic–won’t make a huge difference in what they’re saying. The flip side is also true: there’s no real reason to believe that a solid, well-thought out statement will be fundamentally corrupted by the human mic or made more logical by an electronic one.

        1. 0
          trendy? ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Diplomacy? Internet forums are hardly the place to have your hand held. If you say something that doesn’t make sense, non-liberal and perhaps other members of the community are going to call you out.

          Again, you’re making speculative statements. I should believe them because…. you say so?

          Saying things like “Chances are…” and “I think…”. No one cares. The grown ups care about things that tend to be true; not how people ‘feel.’

          1. 0
            JSS says:

            replying here because I can’t below…

            The only punishment I wanted was a good strong restraining order- apparently still too much to ask. When this is what it’s like for survivors, perhaps it’s a little easier to understand why we’re pissed at the administration and interested in making a bit of a scene, all for the sake of the common good?

          2. 0
            Jonah says:

            “Assuming that…” is how you begin your statement. You also assume that vocal repetition does not increase comprehension. Well I’d say thats outright wrong (based on the experiences of many of my friends who i have spoken to about the human mic). Obviously there will be people who dont benefit from repetition, but I would say that many (myself and xxdirty… included) benefit from it greatly.

            I think you should check your assumptions.

        2. 0
          xxxi says:

          Your articles say very clearly that it’s an effective protesting tool. Yes, because it promotes group-think. You can’t have it both ways.

          Your arguments sound reasonable but they are specious. I would recommend a social psychology class if you think the means of communication doesn’t make a huge difference in what people say or what they are willing to believe.

          1. 0
            JSS says:

            again, replying here because I can’t reply to your comment below-

            Yes. I was in an abusive relationship. I tried to report after I’d gotten out but while he was still threatening me, and nothing happened. Yes. They didn’t care. Or rather, they cared in an ‘oh, that must be so hard, you should go to CAPS more often’ way and not in a taking steps to ensure my safety way. My story is far from exceptional, in the grand scheme of things (hopefully at least a little exceptional in the context of Swarthmore, but sexual assault is still common), which is why I’m so adamant about improving sexual assault response at Swat and education/prevention (yay consent!) everywhere.

  7. 0
    xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

    It seems like a lot of people have voiced concerns about the use of the human mic. For one, organizers did ask everyone there whether they wanted to use it, and they decided they did when people in the back couldn’t hear. It also isn’t that easy to get a speaker system and microphone set up in Sharples. Maybe not impossible, but definitely not time sensitive. I’m also wondering if those farther away who were annoyed by the “garble” wouldn’t be infinitely more annoyed by hearing every single word said.

    Bigger points:
    1) The human mic forces people to be BRIEF. Brevity isn’t a quality many Swarthmore students (including myself) possess, and to limit them to two or three word phrases at a time enables them to speak concisely while still letting them say what they want to say. It isn’t silencing, but it’s also not letting the person who’s most articulate take a hold of the conversation over the person with the best idea.

    2) OWS isn’t only using the human microphone because of certain noise ordinances. It may have started that way, but it’s also being used in a number of cities which don’t have those ordinances. It’s a way more democratic means of communication than actual microphones for a host of reasons, all of which I won’t go into here. However, a microphone can only be held be by one person, and it’s only that person who has the power to speak. People are coming to Occupy sites (and to the Swat GA) because they’re tired of their voices not being heard. With the human mic, anyone can speak up at anytime (provided they respect consensus process), no speakers or microphone required, just people.

    3) It’s supportive. Who doesn’t want to hear their words shouted back to them enthusiastically by a load of other people? It’s an experience that encourages people to speak who otherwise might not.

    More here: http://www.npr.org/2011/10/06/141109428/the-nation-we-are-all-human-microphones

    1. 0
      OCCUPY ALL STREETS ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      These are just a few general questions reflecting some notions I have about the human mic, but:

      Do you think the human mic system promotes groupthink (a dangerous psychological phenomenon)?

      It seems as if your points balance on the fact that the people who make up the human mic agree with what the individual is saying. I for one do not want to mindlessly repeat a sentence that I do not agree with. (i.e. “I support a sorority” or “I am a Democrat” [these are just general examples, not specific to the GA or myself]) Do you think that the human mic system actually stifles the individual? Clearly not everyone in a GA will be able/want to speak in the allotted time.

      Just some thoughts I’ve wondered about.

      P.S. I’m so happy this is able to be discussed calmly. I was so worried that my first post (my first Gazette post ever!) would get yelled at and destroyed that I almost didn’t say it. How’s that for representation? 😛

      1. 0
        Jonah says:

        you dont have to agree with what people are saying to use the human mic. if i was speaking and i said “my name is jonah” then you would repeat “my name is jonah” even though your name isnt jonah. its not to say that everyone agrees with everything everyone else is saying, but it allows them to be more present in what the person is saying, what they think etc. i think its almost better to be saying the things you disagree with (as part of the mic) because then you really think about them more.

  8. 0
    lynne says:

    Hope you will look at the work Senator Mike Gravel has done on direct democracy and watch the 4 min. film of how We The People can become the 4th check in our system of checks and balances. Google his interviews with Rachel Maddow. Check out the book Citizen Power.

    Right now we have a republic more like the Roman Empire than the Athenian model of democracy that we are told that we have. Direct Democracy is real Democracy. Learn more about it.

    If you want to talk to Mike, let me know.

  9. 0
    No, i'm sorry says:

    …that one hour of one meal of the 21 you likely eat throughout the course of the week was moderately inconvenienced. Also, props on developing your own consensus process for gauging everyone’s opinions!

    1. 0
      Kat Clark ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      I think a lot of the frustration I saw from students last night (there was a lot of it) could be solved by the use of a microphone. Students outside of the enclosed circle of people only heard a garbled repeated noise coming from the crowd (it did sound pretty cult-like), and I think it would have been great if more people could listen in without standing. It would be easy to get a microphone, and then more students could observe and get involved. It would also save a lot of time. Just a thought. I know people involved in OWS don’t use real microphones, but that’s because New York requires a permit for amplified sound in public and they can’t get one.

      I’ve heard from many people that the general assembly was an awesome and enriching experience, so getting more people involved could only be a good thing.

      1. 0
        zeta says:

        I agree that the space could be better organized to allow more people to understand and participate. A microphone could help this happen.

        I will put forward three points in favor of the peoples’ mic, though: First, it helps keep folks’ speech concise, which is especially important with Swatties :). Second, hearing your speech reflected back at you by the collective voice is an incredibly empowering experience. Third, in the process of repeating others’ statements you to listen to them and think about what they’re saying.

  10. 0
    I'm Sorry says:

    I was not close enough to hear or understand last night’s demonstration, but I know it was a nuisance. Reading the article and comments, some of your points are good and should be addressed, while others seem more like Swarthmore-bashing than anything. I made the choice to come to Swarthmore because I like the ideas of students interested in improving the school and world around us. However, last night’s gathering was not an appropriate venue or way to achieve goals. SImply stated, it was frustrating. Your cult-like repetition disrupted my meal and made the already over crowed Sharples even more difficult to navigate and find seats. For a lot of people on campus, this is a pretty stressful time, and I just wanted to eat quickly before heading back to Cornell, and your group made that very difficult. Sharples has horrible acoustics, why on earth would you try to hod a meeting there and expect for people to hear or care about what you’re saying, Next time, why don’t you have your meeting right outside of Sharples? You’ll reach the entire student body as they enter or leave, you can have speakers so people will know what you’re saying, and busy diners will not be bothered and frustrated by your attempt of a General Assembly.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think you can call it a general assembly if so many people were annoyed by your actions last night. The general consensus last night (at least from my table) was that the General Assembly is not exactly welcome in Sharples.

  11. 0
    pls think says:

    In general, people need to put a little more thought into what they say/demand/echo/get mad about. Rationality goes under the rug when emotions take over. And because we’re social creatures, group mentality is a perfect emotion-eliciting machine.

    Big groups of people exciting themselves as they reinforce one another freaks me out a little bit because even fairly intelligent people can become caught in brainless-group thought, which then becomes tied to emotion, which then becomes rationalized in their minds.

    THINK people. What do you actually want? Step back for a minute, and consider Swarthmore as a college that exists beyond your time here that has priorities that account for its future and not just its present. Realize that not every student here is just like you.

    I am paying shit tons to go to this school. I do not get aid; I will pay in loans. But I still appreciate the general idea of putting academic rigor in front of all else. I’m here for an education. I am not here for these four years to lower the school’s carbon footprint (or to change whatever other terrible things it might be doing) at the cost of its endowment.

    Also just a sidenote, but what is all this about “promoting” diversity? Why would we actively hire people because they’re “diverse” rather than because they are the best in their field? Do we want to remain a rigorous institution, or is “diversity” more important? Let’s prioritize.

    1. 0
      Joyce Wu says:

      You made a really good point in your first three paragraphs, which was unfortunately rendered completely invalid by your ignorant views towards diversity. I have a feeling someone else is going to explain exactly why your comments are so problematic, so I’ll leave it to them. I just wanted to elucidate a little instead of just giving a thumbs up or thumbs down.

      1. 0
        pls think says:

        Hey there–
        how does one statement render an entire post useless? I suppose this is what i mean about getting mad rather than ‘thinking’. we end up writing things off (and on) because we become emotionally engaged.

        which, in general, of course, is a good thing. it’d be scary if we weren’t emotional. anyways. on to my response.

        this might not be the place for this discussion (although the occupy swat thing does appear to be the conglomeration of many not immediately relatable complaints), i sometimes wonder about what we really mean by diversity. I certainly appreciate that not all people at swarthmore are straight arrow, and that we come from a wide range of backgrounds (at least compared to other small, elite, liberal-arts colleges). This exposes us to other driven, intelligent people who have completely different experiences from our own, and thus ‘expand’ our own worlds.

        Ok. I feel like this can be a sensitive subject. But I don’t understand why we would use race as a proxy for diversity, and why we would thus substitute race for ability as a professor of candidate faculty members. NOTE that i am not well researched on the new swarthmore hiring policies, and would love to be enlightened if this is not the case…

        I guess i wasn’t clear in my post that that was what i was referring to. but the idea of diversity in general is fascinating and i think controversial.

        1. 0
          Jk says:

          “how does one statement render an entire post useless?”

          When you’re reading a post by an anonymous Internet commenter, part of what you’re doing is judging “is this person too crazy or stupid to be taken seriously.” So if they say 90% reasonable things and one really stupid thing, it kind of calls into question the rest of the things they said. Completely rational, nothing necessarily emotional about it. Maybe it doesn’t make the rest of the post “useless”, but it sure makes it worse.

          Oh, and 9/11 was an inside job committed by shadow president Elvis from his headquarters in the Batcave. It’s pretty obvious if you think about it. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

    2. 0
      Maybe I'm confused... says:

      pls think, I think you make a really good point:

      “Step back for a minute, and consider Swarthmore as a college that exists beyond your time here that has priorities that account for its future and not just its present. Realize that not every student here is just like you.”

      However, I take issue with many of the comments surrounding intellectual gold-nugget. Perhaps I do not understand fully what you are saying, so let me “mine” out what I understand to be written:

      – Concerning: “Rationality goes under the rug when emotions take over.” — I do not necessarily disagree with this comment, but I think it should be mentioned that there IS a healthy, necessary place for emotions. I take issue with the line of reasoning that follows a rigid classification procedure for ideas and actions that are typed as either solely as “rational” or “emotional.” Given the heavy influence of “Western philosophy” on many of our worldly perspectives, the dissociation of these terms may allow their meanings to be manipulated within the social context (especially for those of us, including myself, who have little to no exposure to the studies of philosophy). Let me explain: “Rational” ideas and actions might get tangled up with the “good,” “correct,” and “civilized” connotation given this philosophical framework and its promotion throughout your argument (mainly the concentration on the slippery-slope evils that emotions supposedly elicit in the social sphere, ie: “brainless group-thought”). On the other hand, “emotionally motivated” ideas and actions may be incorrectly typed as “bad,” “incorrect,” and “uncivilized.” Might a middle-ground or coexistence be acknowledged between the two? Just as you purport that a wholly-emotional response may lead to later regretted actions; might not the flip-side be viewed in the same light? A wholly-rational (in the rigid, clinically-abrasive sense of the word) have unfortunate outcomes?

      I mention these possibilities in light of the campus initiatives to increase student visibility and agency. The either/or of “rational” versus “emotional” seems to also correlate with “status quo” and “change” within this argument. Am I understanding you right when you say “I am not here for these four years to lower the school’s carbon footprint (or to change whatever other terrible things it might be doing) at the cost of its endowment” that you recognize the possible unethical nature of some of these administratively-decided acts but that given it is the “status quo,” it must be the MOST “rational” option, thus why question it? Forgive me (for I have learned the hard way that denying my emotions does not always lead to a more cogent arguments and healthiest mind), but are you saying that initiatives where students have a place to express their concerns and express their solidarity in discontentment are pointless because we cannot perhaps find better solutions to the problems our administration are trying to address?! Even if we do not have the power to come up with a better solution (which I seriously doubt, especially in the question of how sexual abuse cases are handled), won’t our collective dissatisfaction push the administration to re-investigate their policies and/or provide explanation for why their current policies are best option available at this time? “Emotion” that causes students to really “THINK” and really question their contentment might lead to “change” for the better. Or maybe my optimism is interfering with my “rationality”…

      Again… I do not fully comprehend what appears to be more either/or reasoning when you contrast “academic rigor” with “lower[ing] the school’s carbon footprint” supposedly at the “cost of [Swat’s] endowment.” Or are you saying you are fine with students taking a moral/ethical/and perhaps inherently rational stand so long as it doesn’t interfere with the endowment? Again, is there no way to come up with a better solution to the problem that would not (or minimally) affect the endowment?

      Finally, the seemingly problematic either/or reasoning in this argument gets even more problematic in the last paragraph. I really, really hope you are not saying that Swat’s “rigorous”-ness would come at the expense of “diversity”?! By no means are “diverseness” and being the “best of their field” mutually exclusive! Was the construction of the paragraph just phrased in an insensitive manner? Additionally, you ask why “diversity” might be promoted?

      -First off, before I jump into the nitty-gritty of this question, it should be noted that being at the “top of [your] field” doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good professor. If one of my priorities is also to learn, I would want to learn from someone who has a record of teaching well rather than someone who does not teach that well but has a famous name (sometimes at the expense of teaching). That was why Swat called to me more than the Ivies. This is not to say the two characteristics cannot coincide; given my experience at Sway, I would say they often do.

      – I believe diversity to be important for many reasons, but the primary one is different perspectives. I know my world paradigms have changed (for the better) many times since I’ve come to Swat, because a professor opened my eyes to something I had been completely missing. This is the type of learning I value the most. I feel that my work ethic would have forced me to learn subject material rigorously wherever I had chosen to go to college. However, there are very few places that would have taught such important life lessons. To me, Swat is special in this way.

      “Promoting” diversity may be a controversial topic, but I feel it is important to have access to people with different backgrounds and experiences. I also think that some “diverse” individuals who do not fit within the status quo have a tendency to be marginalized by the “dominant” (I feel like there is a better word than this) culture. Consider, for instance, someone who does not prescribe to Western philosophy who is interviewed by people who believe themselves to follow Western philosophy and its “rationalism.” If the interviewers process the world in a strictly “rational” or non-“rational” way, what hope does the interviewee have to be hired? If their philosophy and experiences make them appear “emotional” or non-“rational” in the interviewers’ eyes, the interviewee with be written off as incompetent. Have we not seen similar events happen throughout history as come cultural groups have been put-down because they were classified as “uncivilized” and “illogical” due to either/or thinking?

      As someone who identifies as “diverse” in many senses of the word (because of my race(s), religious background(s), socioeconomic class, home’s geographic location, etc) I especially appreciate the access to diverse faculty because they often serve as good role models I can identify with and they may be able to better understand my experiences than others. Additionally, when I am struggling to come to terms with something affecting my academic performance, they may be able to provide insight into overcoming the problem or show me other ways to engage with the material so that I can better understand it.

      Sorry for the length! When my emotions get stirred up, I have a tendency to dissect and question the emotional-motivator at great length. I hope I “thought” enough for you.

      [Also, please don’t think I’m necessarily knocking Western philosophy in its true form. I’m really knocking a confused form of it via “either/or” thinking.]

      1. 0
        pls think says:

        hot damn! i missed this one while i was typing up above response.

        YES!! The balance between emotion and “rationality”. i do not even know what rationality is, really. i used the terms rather loosely in my original post.

        ahh i very much enjoyed reading your post. it was highly satisfying and very well thought out.

        and you bring up an excellent point–that emotions that drive people to DO things can be good. i mean, where would we be if people had been fine with the status quo for the past century? nowhere we’d want to be.

        That’s what’s confusing to me about the occupy movements, or i suppose all general protests. Group mentalities result in a certain degree of ‘brainlessness’ for a significant portion of the group, i’d bet, but then that is where their power lies. in forming The Group, which is scarier than many people. And the associated hysteria/anger in participants is good because hey! maybe they’ll get something ‘good’ done. And the fact that it alarmed people watching is good too, because maybe they’ll THINK about it.

        as i have, to some extent (you demonstrate that i have not thought quite enough)

        it’s late so i will hold off on responding to the rest of your post, but thank you for that! diversity diversity diversity i do indeed like. it’s just when it gets so conflated with race that i get annoyed.

  12. 0
    nitpicky says:

    During the Assembly, organizers considered “turning off” the human mike, but people in the back couldn’t hear. As time went on, there were only more and more people who couldn’t hear. So it pretty much was justified.

    1. 0
      nitpicking nitpicky says:

      Sure, no amplification wouldn’t have worked, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have used, you know, technology to accomplish the same goal in a less annoying way.

  13. 0
    Be reasonable people says:

    I understand that the sentiment of this meeting was highly affected by the occupy movements around the nation; so, it was understandable that the meeting turned into student complaining about the administration on any topic they could find, regardless of the use of their complaints and suggestions.

    Let’s take a look at some of the most relevant, but completely useless suggestions that evening:

    1. “The endowment is being invested in things I don’t like, we should force the committee to tell us exactly what/how much they are investing in these companies and we should change what they invest in”

    This is a completely pointless statement. I do not agree with some of the companies our endowment has money invested in, but I do not complain about it. Why? Because we cannot do anything about it. We have no control what this school invests in, legally, politically, or in any way. As students, we give our money to an institution that does what it wants with it. When you go to Starbucks every day and pay hundreds of dollars to the company a year, you do not have a right to petition the company to tell you what it is investing your money in. In this society, what you do is change to a company that you agree with its investments. Thinking we can change the practice of our investment committee is a waste of time and effort.

    2. “I don’t like how the administration handles sexual assault, so we should stand on tour routes with signs and protest”
    This is another major issue at Swat, but this is a horrible way to go around changing it. There is a difference between protesting the administration and protesting the school. Standing on tour routes will do nothing but make people angry, and scare prospective students away from our wonderful college. Please imagine with a more productive way of bringing this issue to light without harming prospective student’s image of the school.

    3. “We want to re-instate Quaker collection at the school but when we proposed this to the administration they were hesitant because they thought there wouldn’t be enough support”

    Well, funny enough, there wouldn’t be much support. Religion is not huge on this campus, and Quakerism is not huge for religion on the campus. This is hardly a statement to justify demonizing the administration.

    So, that statement was completely pointless depending on which of the two ways this collection would be created:

    A. The weekly collection is handled like a club, just like any other religious ceremony every week.

    B. The school officially endorses Quakerism and creates a collection each week that is endorsed by the administration.

    Of course the school will not endorse B. This is a secular institution and will remain one.

    It seems that the proponents of this idea were pushing for B, but if they were pushing for A, then the school has no right to deny creating a collection club, and that is a legitimate issue. So which is it? Some clarification would be excellent.

    Last point: The human mic idea was also useless.

    The reason the “human mic” was created at the occupy movements was because it is the most efficient way to communicate to a large group of people without augmentation of a sort.

    Funny, we have electricity; the most efficient way to communicate in this situation is with a microphone.

    Just my two cents.

    1. 0
      JSS says:

      First off, echo mic.ing/ using human mic is not just a technology- it connects us with occupy movements everywhere and it makes it absolutely collective. Anyone can human mic, and human mic.ing requires the community present to actively engage, as opposed to a traditional microphone which passively amplifies the voice of the person who controls it.

      For 1: The school is investing in us as students, and we as students are investing in the school (the school isn’t a charitable institution). We, as students, as shareholders in the community, might as well make our voices heard about the way the institution that we are a part of functions and what it supports.

      For 2: WE HAVE TRIED OTHER ROUTES. For years. Seriously. Talked to every dean, gone every administrationally-sanctioned route to improve things. It goes nowhere. The safety and health of swarthmore students is worth the risk of not showing prospective students our prettiest side. *trigger warning* Swarthmore students who have been raped will often receive no support from the administration, even when they diligently try to take it to the CJC or some other school route. I am much more worried about the folks who have had their rapes dismissed, who every single day they are at swat see their abusers, who can either sit through classes and labs with the person who repeatedly violently assaulted and raped them, almost landing them in the hospital, or switch majors. Bad press or damage to our lovely swat image would be motivation for an administration that has made it incredibly clear that they. don’t. care. to make things better.

      1. 0
        Be reasonable people says:

        “it connects us with occupy movements everywhere and it makes it absolutely collective. Anyone can human mic, and human mic.ing requires the community present to actively engage, as opposed to a traditional microphone which passively amplifies the voice of the person who controls it.”

        It doesn’t matter that it “connects us”, this is a very medieval way of doing things. Sure, having people yelling what you are saying will get people excited, but we can just as easily use a microphone and do the “wiggly finger thing” to show support and vastly increase the productivity of said meetings. It seems that the human mic was great at one thing: creating a mob mentality that demonizes the administration for everything. If the goal of the human mic is to do this, then wow, it did its job. However, it’s much more likely that the human mic is a way to communicate more efficiently. We have electricity; we can get an actual microphone.

        For 1,
        It does not matter that we are “shareholders in the community” or that the school is investing in us. Sure, make your voice heard; it will not accomplish anything unless the committee feels like it, and I really don’t see that happening unless the companies that make the most money are angel companies that don’t do bad things.
        Disclaimer again: I do not support these companies; I am simply stating that it is pointless to complain when nothing will feasibly be done.

        For 2,
        This well may be true. I am just highly critical of this route of action; there must be a more productive way of protesting without causing prospective students/families to be scared away from the school. If the situation is really as dire as you make it seem like, then go for it. One of the most controversial and damaging ways I can think to peacefully protest that issue is what you suggested, and that would definitely cause a stir within the administration. I’m just very skeptical that this is the best course of action.

    2. 0
      Be reasonable people says:

      ^This
      A much more rational (still difficult, but hey) response than the “standing on tour routes” proposal. That also has it’s problems, but at least it’s not blatantly a ridiculous idea, given the other proposals during that talk.

    3. 0
      Iris says:

      I want to echo the bit about protesting the handling of sexual assault cases on tour routes. My number one biggest concern as a student here is the shape of the student body. I’m shocked that anyone would feel differently.

      But anyway, this isn’t something controversial like the frats or party spaces or divestment. This is a consensus issue. This is an EMINENTLY FIXABLE issue. I suspect it would be no challenge to get 300-500 students to sign onto efforts to enhance *ongoing* education and transparency, and I would be astonished if the administration were disinterested after a strong showing of support.

      I care miles more about this issue than anything that was discussed yesterday, but it’s frustrating to hear it couched entirely in providing enough “incentives” for the administration to respond. We live on a campus where we’re practically eating the Paradox of Choice in our pasta. Mount some arguments. Generate some ideas and build some consensus. Then talk to the people you call the “Parrish administration”–take them as seriously as you’d want them to take you–and see what happens.

      It should be clear to everyone after all of the miscommunications about the party permit policy and similar that the administration doesn’t quite get what it’s like to be a student on this campus. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything sinister. It means it’s in part our responsibility to make sure that they do.

      End soapbox. Great work with the GA, though.

      1. 0
        xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

        Unfortunately, the administration does not operate on a consensus based model, despite some rhetoric otherwise. As someone who’s had multiple conversations with Rebecca Chopp, Maurice Eldridge and other members of the administration about controversial issues, I can say that they are really not terrible people, but do require incentives in order to make change.

        Petitions are great, but are not in themselves a campaign. SLAP did a petition last year with signatures from over half the student body (plz plz plz don’t make this a thread about SLAP, this is JUST an example) and presented it to the administration with little response. Change does take a showing of support, but it almost certainly has to be support that puts pressure on the administration to make changes they otherwise would not. It isn’t easy, but it can (and has!) been done.

  14. 0
    xxdirtycommiehippy69xx says:

    OCCUPY ALL STREETS and KL, there’s definitely a lot of truth in both of your statements, and one that should be voiced (in another GA, perhaps 😉 ) While a lot of the GA last night was very critical of the administration, there’s no real reason to be critical of an institution you don’t feel an investment in. I can’t speak for everyone, but as someone who has been involved in Occupy things on campus, and who is highly critical of certain administrative dealings, it definitely comes from a place that ultimately wants to see the College be the best it can be. Swarthmore is for sure WORLDS better than a whole lot of institutions, and is actually a great place for many people, flawed as it may be. The financial aid is one of the best in the country, and the administration (again, not to frame it as a monolith-really good point made on that, KL) does make concerted attempts at diversity (again, not perfect). Most of those gains, though, were the result of really hard, prolonged organizing campaigns on the part of students. As well intentioned as members of the administration may be, there’s no incentive for them to make progressive changes unless they’re pushed to do so. Seeing everyone in the same space last night voicing their concerns was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had at Swarthmore. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing students continue to be engaged in the workings of the institutions they’re a part of.

    1. 0
      uh huh? ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      ” Most of those gains, though, were the result of really hard, prolonged organizing campaigns on the part of students”

      Uh, how do you know this? Are you sure that these changes wouldn’t have been made had students not behaved as they did? You probably don’t.

      1. 0
        zeta says:

        1) A student occupation of Parrish in 1969 directly led to an increase in admissions for African-American students and the creation of the black cultural center. http://www.swarthmore.edu/news/history/1969.html

        2) After an 8-year campaign led by students and faculty in the 1980s caused Swarthmore to divest from South African Apartheid, after Board members publicly avowed that divestment would never happen.
        http://www.swarthmore.edu/news/history/1982.html

        3) Less than a decade ago, a 5-year student campaign won a close-to-living-wage for college staff. http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/living_wage/history.html

        And this is just scratching the surface 😉

        1. 0
          uh, huh? ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

          Again-

          The direct following of these changes DOES NOT mean that these student protests *caused* them or even had a *significant impact* on making way for these changes. All of the conclusions you draw from the sequence of events you cite constitute LOGICAL FALLACIES. Please take a logic, statistics, or econometrics course.

          It could have been, for instance, that community sentiment had been moving in the direction of all of the changes that followed these protests, and that these protests only had marginal impact on change that was all ready taking place. Supposing that the protests had significant impact is itself preposterous: If community sentiment weren’t in the ideological neighborhood of protestor platforms, then the effect protests had must have been of a magnitude likely inconsistent with empirics.

          1. 0
            uh huh ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Jonah-

            You just don’t *get it.* Though, as an ‘anonymous’ person on the internet, I don’t have much credibility, but all I can say is “trust me” or encourage you to take a statistics, logic, or metrics class, which I mean in the nicest way possible.

            My claims are not inconsistent; in fact, they’re typical in applied statistics work. Fundamentally, I claim that you have a ‘lurking variable’ problem in your claims: We’re not aware of everything that was at play before, during, and after the protests to evaluate their effectiveness. Knowing that the protests happened isn’t enough: we need to take into account *ALL* dynamics before and after the protests.

            This problem is actually consistent with a common problem in quantitative social sciences. Social scientists often want to test what effect some kind of policy change (e.g., student protests) has on some outcome of interest (e.g., whether or not Swarthmore makes various policy changes w/r/t/ diversity or whatever). But to to do this, we need a means of comparing what we observed to a counterfactual, or what *would have* happened had the protests not taken place. Without a control group (some group that is similar to the treatment group but that didn’t get the treatment – in this case, student protests), or a sufficiently large set of control variables, so that we can take out all variation in policy outcomes associated with things we don’t care about (e.g., social dynamics outside the Swat bubble, social dynamics within the bubble, and anything else related), I don’t know any means of testing the effectiveness of the protests.

            Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up. While it’s probably disingenuous to say that my priors don’t make me skeptical of the claims to begin with, the issues I highlight are nontrivial and must be dealt with if you want to make believable claims here.

          2. 0
            Jonah says:

            Occupy all streets, my issue is not with his/her tone, it is with the hypocrisy of his/her statements. uh huh suggests that a doctor would do tests, etc to find the cause of an illness and that is what would provide the best possible explanation for that illness. This is obviously true. Uh huh suggests that we, instead of mindlessly postulating, do tests (i.e. Research) to find the real cause of positive administrative and other changes in Swarthmore history. I agree that such research could provide a more complete understanding of the causes of change. Then, uh huh goes on to do exactly what he/she was just arguing against. Uh huh made claims/postulations not based on tests, research or any facts, but merely on speculation. He/she claims that events that may or may not have happened were the real causes of change. The student campaigns mentioned by other posters did happen, that’s a fact. It is hard to know whether or not they caused any change, but I would say its hard to argue that something that may have happened (but there is no evidence that it did) had more if an effect on the past events than something that actually did happen.

          3. 0
            OCCUPY ALL STREETS ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            I gotta say, uh huh is making a valid point, essentially boiling down to correlation does not equal causation. He/she is however, making it in a rather denigrating and attacking way, so I urge you, Jonah, to try and understand the examples without getting caught up in his dismissive tone.

          4. 0
            uh huh ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            “im pretty sure that the probability that something that is known to have happened (in these cases at least) made a difference is greater than the probability that something you think may or may not have happened made that difference.”

            LOL.

            Good for you. That’s just preposterous.

            Suppose you come down with persistent and intense headaches. Before your doctor inspects you, you know a lot about yourself and what you’ve been doing recently; your doctor can only speculate. By your logic, your self-diagnostic is better than that of the doctor’s because “something that is known to have happened” has “greater probability” than “the probability that something [the doctor] think[s] may or may not have happened” to cause your pains. Obviously ridiculous.

            You might respond, “oh, well the doctor would do tests to find out what’s going on, and then he’d know what’s going on; his knowledge of me would be as good or better than my knowledge.” Well guess what, that’s what I propose: Study what happened instead of mindlessly and subjectively postulating.

          5. 0
            uh huh ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Yeah – my bad on the typo. Sorry about that.

            I appreciate your ‘concession;’ but your explanation isn’t any better than mine. It’s just that your’s is most consistent with yours and probably other people’s priors. That doesn’t make it right or better.

          6. 0
            Jonah says:

            i understand that the most obvious possible “cause” is not always the actual cause (i.e. crime rates going down after abortion was legalized, freakonomics). but you have nothing that your basing your alternate causes off of, you are merely pondering the various possibilities. at least i know that there were campaigns fighting for the things that ended up changing (divestment, living wage, etc). im pretty sure that the probability that something that is known to have happened (in these cases at least) made a difference is greater than the probability that something you think may or may not have happened made that difference.

          7. 0
            uh huh ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Johan-

            There aren’t gradations of ‘logical.’ Something is, or it isn’t.

            And we actually enumerate the same two possibilities. I’m glad you *think* the latter is more logical, but you have no consistent basis on which to make that evaluation, except that it’s possibly consistent with your priors, which aren’t any more valid than mine or anyone else’s.

            I can come up with all sorts of examples, where a sequence of events apparently suggests strong causation where some lurking variable actually obscures the apparent relationship. The observed effect of the ABC anti-HIV campaign in Uganda is a perfect example: The government implemented an anti-HIV campaign and HIV transmissions rates fell soon after. We might naively say that the ABC campaign was mostly responsible for this change. It turns out that Uganda’s comparative advantage in coffee production declined the year of the program’s implementation, and that the ABC campaign was only ~40% as effective as commonly believed. So if we followed you and just said, “gosh, it seems pretty logical that these protests caused these changes,” we could end up making the same mistake the Uganda government did briefly, until this research uncovered it.

            Speculatively claiming causation because, “gosh, it seems like A caused B” is reasonable as pure speculation, but any such claims constitute strictly false statements. [In fact, any claim with purported certainty on causal relationships is just preposterous, and without any data on this, you’re left to speculation, where no one actually cares that your priors are consistent with the observed sequence of events (because their priors may well be different and are equally valid).]

          8. 0
            Jonah says:

            uhh im pretty sure that makes no sense. whats more logical, 1) that large student protests/movements that coincidentally were followed by administrative changes (which the protests were asking for) actually had nothing to do with those changes, or 2) that large student protests/movements were a partial (if not major) cause of the administrative changes (which the protests were asking for). Id say that 2 is MUCH more logical.

            You are making huge assumptions based on nothing. “It could have been, for instance… already taking place.” this statement holds no evidential backing. In fact, its just a whim that you came up with. Your logic is completely flawed, and is actually not logic at all.

  15. 0
    nitpicky says:

    good point ma, but isn’t “trans” just as much of a gender as “male” or “female”? Can’t trans folk be discriminated against in the same way as males and females?

    1. 0
      MC says:

      “Trans” is actually not normally a gender … a lot of trans people resist the idea that they’re “a third gender” or othered (especially trans people who identify as man or womyn).

      Trans* folks (which can be shorthand for the entire community or non-binary people specifically) can be discriminated against, absolutely, but it’s simultaneously a monolith and not a monolith (many genders or lack thereof fall under that umbrella).

      I appreciate the spirit of your comment for sure because you can absolutely say Greek life is gender-discriminatory — only certain genders are allowed to participate, and the choice of what genders those are tie back into transphobia.

  16. 0
    ma says:

    (Two points of clarification about the article, mostly just so people aren’t misquoted:

    “Another student pointed out that the college is in the third year of a hiring freeze: “that’s fucked!” she said, exasperated”

    What’s “fucked” is not the hiring freeze, but the fact that the administration is in fact growing during a supposed hiring freeze.

    “A handful of speakers called it an essentially gender-discriminatory institution”

    They called it a trans-phobic institution. )

  17. 0
    KL says:

    I agree with OCCUPY ALL STREETS. Believe it or not, there are good things to take from the status quo, and “the administration” is not a monolithic mob who wants to treats students like brainless money-makers (even full-pay students cost the college money to educate). I am also here on significant financial aid and that aid is NOT my expected right or benefit; it is purely a gift. Certainly there are things about the college that should change–but not everything will, or needs to, be magically fixed while we are students here. Some things, e.g. an understaffed department or a new interdisciplinary program, may not change until five years after the point is first brought up as a concern; but from the COLLEGE’s long-term point of view, a thoughtful and sustainable change is more important than satisfying immediate student demands. And even if that means I can’t benefit from the changes, I can respect that perspective.

  18. 0
    OCCUPY ALL STREETS ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As I stood on the fringe of the GA, listening to the cult-like echo of the human microphone, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat off-put. The permeating sense was deeply anti-administration and almost anti-Swarthmore. The entire room was filling with discontent after discontent until I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I’m all for voicing concerns, but there comes a point when you have to take a step back and realize a few things. The institution is (most likely) paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to allow to you attend. It is covering almost all of my cost, as I have no other way to be here. It is providing you with one of the finest educations available anywhere. It has graciously provided you multiple outlets to voice your issues. Can we stop occupying everything in the world and just reflect for a moment on how lucky we are? On how grateful we should be for such an incredible opportunity? The administration, no matter how villainous they may be, has given me a gift in allowing me to be here at all, and I choose to recognize this before I attempt to tear Swarthmore down brick by “populist” brick.

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