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Student Protesters Take Over Open Board Meeting, State Wide Array of Concerns

By and
May 6, 2013

Swarthmore College’s Board of Managers planned to hold an open meeting last Saturday morning where students and College community members could discuss the impact and wisdom of fossil fuel divestment with representatives of the Board.

That meeting turned out to be much more “open” than many expected when upwards of one hundred students, many of whom were affiliated with MJ, abruptly entered the room [VIDEO], interrupting the first speaker from the Board about one minute into his talk, and unilaterally shifting the format of the meeting. Rather than split the hour between Board presentations and a Q&A, explained the students, they wanted the meeting to become a forum for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and Board members to voice their concerns about any issue affecting the Swarthmore community.

Board members and administrators like President Rebecca Chopp, Dean of Students Liz Braun, and Vice President for College and Community Relations Maurice Eldridge ‘61 chose to sit and listen to the 90-minute open forum. Towards the end, two Board members, Nate Erskine ’10 and Susan Levine ’78, spoke up, trying to address the students’ concerns.

The Board originally agreed to do the open session, which was held at 11 a.m. in Science Center 101 as part of a quarterly on-campus Board weekend, after MJ members asked Board members for a space where they could engage with students directly. According to posters spread around campus, this is the first such meeting “in student memory.”

In an email sent on April 19, Eldridge invited faculty, staff, and students to attend. A majority of the room’s lecture hall-style seats were filled. Besides students, the meeting was attended by a number of administrators and alumni and at least seven faculty members.

Board Finance Committee Chair Chris Niemczewski ’74 was starting a presentation entitled “The Cost of Divestment” just after 11:00 when MJ member Pat Walsh ’14, who was helping facilitate the meeting, broke with protocol.

Walsh, who was seated at the front of the room along with fellow MJ member Laura Rigell ‘16 and Board members including Chair Gil Kemp ‘72, began speaking into his microphone during a momentary pause in Niemczewski’s speech. Walsh read a prepared statement as the 100-or-so students marched in and encircled the room holding posters and banners marked with slogans like “This is what social responsibility looks like” and “Check your ignorance.”

“We stand before you this morning as members of Mountain Justice to address concerns about our environment,” said Walsh. “However, we are also talking about our environment in the Swarthmore community and what it means to create a safe and just environment. We ask that the Board of Managers listen to the voices of the students, faculty, and alumni who describe their concerns about this community. As the power-holders of this institution, you are accountable to the needs and well-being of students, and we fully expect you to take action.”

Joyce Wu ‘15 and Sachie Hayakawa ‘13 delivered a statement that followed on the heels of Walsh’s. “We have been asked to wait again and again,” said Wu. “We’re done waiting. Business as usual cannot continue, not while inequality and marginalization exist on our campus and in the world.”

Board Member Dulany Bennett ‘66, who helped facilitate the originally-planned meeting, conferred with Chopp before announcing that “Managers are prepared to stay and listen in this different format that you have created.”

Board Social Responsibility Committee Chair David Gelber ‘63, who is a filmmaker currently working on an eight-hour documentary about climate change for the Showtime channel, had been scheduled to give a talk at the meeting about ways to combat climate change besides divestment, but cancelled for family reasons. Reached after the meeting by email, he expressed his displeasure with the students’ change of agenda.

“One thing I heard pissed me off,” he wrote. “Chris Niemczewski, who’s a great guy and totally devoted to Swarthmore, spent a lot of time putting together an explanation of the real cost of divestment. I’m told he barely got through one sentence before he was interrupted. He wasn’t given a chance to finish his presentation. I consider that incredibly rude, aside from the fact that [Niemczewski] knows what he’s talking about and could have given the students a lot to reflect on.

Niemczewski declined to comment at this time.

At least one person was observed exiting the room after MJ and coalition members read their introductory statements. Five students, including Danielle Charette ‘14 and Preston Cooper ‘15, both of whom verbally expressed their discontent with the meeting’s change of format, also walked out after trying to return it to its original format.

“We came in a good-faith effort,” said Charette, standing up, “and we want to listen to the Board, [but] you’ve set up power relations and hijacked the meeting.”

Charette and Cooper approached Chopp, who was seated immediately in front of the podium, appealing for a return to the agenda they had expected. Chopp did not appear to ask the students assembled with MJ to stand down. Finding no luck, Charette and Cooper exited the room with three others.

As the meeting proceeded, several dozen students lined up at the front of the room for a chance to speak. Each of the students, most of whom did not bring prepared notes, spoke for a minute or two on the particular issue or issues they found most significant.

Though covering a broad range of student experiences and many aspects of campus life and policy, the main concerns voiced could be roughly grouped into four categories: ineffective prevention and dealings with incidents of sexual assault, a lack of administrative support to students of color, a lack of transparency in College decision making, and, of course, divestment. Many speakers echoed the claim made in the introductory statements that students want to see immediate action.

Physics Professor Frank Moscatelli, who, along with Economics Professor Amanda Bayer, was appointed as a faculty observer to the Board meeting, was surprised but impressed by many of the student statements that followed. In an interview later in the weekend, Moscatelli said, “It was an interruption, but it was certainly well-organized, well-done, articulate, honest. It’s in the best sense of protest. [...] The invention of the snapping applause is brilliant by the way,” he added, “I had no idea.”

In an email sent to friends and supporters, MJ member Sara Blazevic ‘15 wrote that MJ decided late last week to encourage students to speak on issues other than divestment during the open meeting. The group made this decision, she explained, in the wake of increasingly heated discussions on campus about issues ranging from Greek life to the choice of Robert Zoellick ‘75 as commencement speaker.

Chopp captured the intensity and urgency of these discussions with her phrase “the spring of our discontent,” which first appeared in an email she sent to students, faculty and staff on April 11. This discontent was particularly palpable going into the weekend after a student, accompanied by at least two others, urinated on the door to the Intercultural Center late Thursday night, according to a campus-wide email sent by Braun. The incident, which occurred at the end of Pub Nite, the weekly party held in Paces, which is near the Intercultural Center, was not the first of its kind this semester.

Hope Brinn, one of twelve students who filed federal complaints against Swarthmore College for non-compliance with the Clery Act and Title IX, was near the front of the line of speakers. When she spoke, she told the audience that she had been sexually assaulted.

“I would like to call on the leadership of this institution to take immediate action against the situation,” she said, “My rights, the students’ rights, our safety, our dignity, our integrity is being violated every single day in this institution.” Brinn said she hoped to see Swarthmore become a leader in what she termed a “national movement for supporting women and students’ rights” on campuses across the country.

Miriam Hauser ‘13, a SMART (Sexual Misconduct Advisors and Resource Team) member said that the group is working towards establishing sensitivity training for members of the administration and faculty members. “Students see the administration as people who are not aligned with them,” Hauser said. “So to that end we would like to propose the creation of a victim advocacy group at Swarthmore, which would be working specifically with survivors and not against them.”

Joshua Asante ‘14 said he believes that the president and Board need to be accountable to students on a list of “non-negotiables.” These non-negotiables, he said, are as follows: “We will not tolerate sexual assault, we will not tolerate people who are known to commit sexual assault to stay on our campus and stay in our College and we will not tolerate disrespect to our spaces, to our colleagues, to our friends and to the people we love.”

When it came to their turn, members of the Intercultural Center (IC) and Black Cultural Center (BCC) coalition spoke about the incident of urination on the IC door. These students said that their safe space had been violated.

Walsh also mentioned the IC incident in his introduction, and several student speakers brought it up in their statements in the context of their anger surrounding issues of social justice and diversity.

For example, after one member of the audience said that MJ’s meeting format felt intimidating, Watufani Poe ‘13, then at the podium, brought up the incident in response.

“I would like to tell you what intimidation is,” he said. “A student came and pissed on my safe space. That was intimidation. That’s why I do not feel safe ever.”

On Friday, members of the IC/BCC coalition organized a rally outside of Sharples to protest against the urination incident. In an event whose format paralleled Saturday’s, students took turns Friday telling the group and passersby how the incident related to what they had experienced at Swarthmore and what they hoped to see in the future. Later that evening, students filled the IC for a meeting facilitated by IC Director Alina Wong, who is also dean of the sophomore class.

At Saturday’s open meeting, many students made statements that spoke to their anger about what they see as a lack of administrative support in recent years.

For example, Uriel Medina ’16 and Michelle Castellanos ’16 representatives of Swatties 4 a DREAM, a student group that advocates for the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented student immigrants, thanked the administration for all the support they have given the group but said they would like to see equitable admissions for undocumented students.

Jusselia Molina ‘13 said that the IC/BCC coalition had started to push for an increase in students and faculty of color on campus. They also had worked to extend need-blind financial aid to international students and to increase support for students of color who wished to pursue a degree in the natural sciences.

When interviewed, Moscatelli said he had witnessed some of the difficulties experienced by students who want a major in the natural sciences but weren’t prepared up to Swarthmore’s expectations in high school. “Although we have some academic support in the form of Science Associates,” he said, “we don’t nearly do enough.” He said he thought that a solution to the issue might not be possible without allocating further resources to the natural sciences.

Molina claimed many student-led efforts to increase support for students of diverse backgrounds lost steam when some administrators encouraged them to work through the strategic planning process. The strategic plan, now published, states that one of Swarthmore’s core values is “our diverse and vibrant community of students, staff, faculty, and alumni.”

“You used us as a diversity tool but then you don’t take care of us, you don’t support us in the way we need support and so I want to call on the administrators and the Board of Managers that when you celebrate your 150th anniversary that you also recognize that we have been at the heart of why this college has changed,” said Molina.

Akunna Uka ‘14, who said she struggled during her freshman year at Swarthmore and studied abroad sophomore to take a break from Swarthmore, said she worried about students in her position who took take time off because of emotional and mental health issues related to negative experiences on campus. “Please research why people of color are not graduating in four years and explore these issues and see what students are going through,” she said. “Being the best liberal arts college isn’t about resting on your laurels and about being the best from five years ago. Google is the best because Google doesn’t rest on what it did five years ago.”

Mina Itabashi ‘13, another member of the IC/BCC coalition, said that when asked to be a part of strategic planning, she and other members logged their ideas into the online forms and joined relevant committees, but saw little change as a result. “Nothing has come out of it and that’s why I am here,” she said. “We’ve been doing so much work and what has happened is that all our effort has been silenced or co-opted.”

A lack of transparency and responsiveness in College decision making was a theme in many students’ statements on Saturday. Camille Robinson ’13 noted that processes and committees do not make clear what sort of actions will be taken to address these issues.

English Professor Betsy Bolton, the only faculty member who spoke at the meeting, echoed concerns about transparency. “I also want to speak for transparency on the part of the faculty, the administration, and the Board of Managers,” she said. “I think we can all do better on that front.”

She said that she believed Braun was one administrator who had been pushing in the right direction on some issues, particular faculty diversity. Bolton said, “Liz Braun has been pushing the faculty to confront their own limitations to see what we are not doing well and to work on what we can do.”

Bolton said that the student testimonies had moved and inspired her. She was hopeful that students, administrators, and Board members would come together to support one another. “We need to push together and we can’t waste our energy pushing against one another, we need to find ways as a community to push against the wall that divides us,” she said.

Nate Erskine ‘10, the youngest member of the Board of Managers, and the first of two Board members who lined up to speak, touched on the importance of trust. “It’s obvious that we do not have the proper trust and communication in the Board of Managers and the students,” he said. “I care for you guys, I want you guys to feel safe and empowered and that Swarthmore is doing all that it can for you.”

“I want you to educate me and at the same time I want to be able to educate you so we can be a better place,” Erskine said. “I have faith that as a community we will be able to do better and we can strive for a better future for everyone.”

Susan Levine ‘78 was the other Board member who got up to speak. “All the issues that you have been raising today we have been talking about with great seriousness and concern in our Board meetings,” Levine said. “We try not to be disconnected from students. We have young alumni networks who are recent students and student observers.”

Board Chair Kemp saved his comments for an interview with The Daily Gazette, which was attended by Communications Director Nancy Nicely. Nicely did not comment when questions were posed to Kemp. At the previous meeting of the Board, Kemp, who has long been a donor to Swarthmore, announced his donation of twenty million dollars to the College.

Kemp said in response to the student action on Saturday that “it was not what I expected, what we had prepared for. But I think a great opportunity to listen to obviously lots of different students. I was saddened by the hurt, pain, and anguish that a lot of people related, and heart goes out when people are suffering like that. But a good opportunity for Board members to directly hear this kind of emotional rawness.”

Kemp said that no immediate actions by the Board of Managers came to mind. However, he said he thinks that over the summer the Board “will have a telephonic review of divestment as an issue but proceed in September with the teach-in symposium that had been originally planned for May.” That symposium was moved, he said, because not all the speakers, such as Gelber, could attend last Saturday.

“An institution like Swarthmore doesn’t move on a dime,” Kemp said, “and it’s frustrating when you want it to. It’s just the nature of an institution that has a 150-year history and has to balance the needs of different stakeholders. As I think was hopefully eloquently put, and persuasively put, we’re here because we’re committed to students and devote our time and energy and financial resources.”

Moscatelli said he understood the slowness of change in academic institutions and said that administrators often find their hands tied by budget realities when considering adding new staff, support programs, and other services. “I’ve heard the administration say, ‘we can’t keep adding things,’ and in the very next breath ‘we need three more psychologists for CAPS because the caseload is so high.’”

“At Swarthmore,” Moscatelli continued, “there’s no CEO that makes direct decisions and then he or she gives those to department heads and plant managers,” he continued. “It doesn’t work that way. Indeed, the first response of any educational institution as I’ve seen over the decades is you start a committee. And then of course, committees are where issues go to die, often, and so that can be very frustrating to students.”

“Would I like it if things could move quicker? Sure. But again, I don’t know how,” Moscatelli said. He agreed with a statement made on Saturday by Bennett, the Board member, to the effect that “it’s really not the Board’s job to run the place,” he said.

Mountain Justice activists, whose goal for institutional change is clearer and more unified than some of the other goals suggested by other students, held most of their comments until the latter half of the meeting. When Sarah Blazevic ‘15 and Nathan Graf ‘16 approached the podium, they announced a timeline MJ demands the Board follow to achieve divestment.

“For me this a question of accountability. What we’re doing right now is holding you the Board of Managers to your values,” said Blazevic. “We want to hold you accountable to what we came here for, to what was on the brochures—civic responsibility, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. That’s what we’re here for.”

“Regardless of what happens on divestment,” said Kemp, “I think the Board as individuals and collectively is absolutely committed to dealing with this issue of climate change, where there is unanimity and I don’t think there is any difference between the students, faculty, and Board in their awareness that this is a primary issue for us as individuals, or as members of this institution or of a greater society.”

Though Moscatelli said he didn’t consider himself a supporter of divestment, he said that students, staff, and faculty, including himself, needed to learn much more about the issue of climate change and ways to combat it. “Even from my friends and listening to some presentations at faculty lunch, for example, there’s a lack of knowledge,” he said. “The magnitude of the problem, climate change, and the magnitude of the response that’s necessary go beyond setting the air conditioning back a couple of degrees. That may make you feel good, but it’s not enough.”

Gelber wrote by email that he too hoped for alternative action. “I’d say there’s a consensus on the Board that climate change is on a short list of the most urgent issues of our time,” he wrote. “Speaking just for myself, I’d like to see the Swarthmore community take action on climate change which has greater impact and is less costly than divestment.”

But MJ members and supporters say they’ve heard calls for alternative action on climate change before and want to focus on divestment.

Though not a member of MJ, Duncan Gromko ‘07, who currently works for an environmental organization, approached the podium to say, “climate change policy and divestment are not two mutually exclusive things.” In response to a statement by President Chopp in the January edition of the Swarthmore Bulletin that, in part, addressed divestment, Duncan Gromko ‘07, wrote a letter that appeared in the April edition that articulated a similar argument.

Gromko, who attended the Rio +20 Conference in 2012, said that it was devastating to see the lack of movement around climate change coming from policymakers and that to expect them to engage in change is totally unrealistic. “This is an opportunity for Swarthmore to lead on an issue and improve their image,” he said.

Explaining that so many meetings and conversations had been held with administrators and Board members that MJ’s goals and the facts they have compiled on divestment should have already been well-understood, Graf spelled out a timeline for divestment that MJ demands the Board accept. The timeline calls for the Board to put out a report stating that they are committed to divestment by September 1. By December 6 and 7, they say, the Board should demonstrate that they have begun taking the first steps towards divestment.

“Over the past two years, we’ve had over 25 closed-door meetings with members of the administration and they haven’t yielded anything except a verbal, non-binding agreement to having a panel in September,” Graf said. “If the Board of Managers does not agree to [our] timeline,” Graf said, “then we will have to intervene in business as usual because business as usual is not working.”

Danielle Charette ‘14, one of the students who walked out of the meeting, is Assistant Opinions Editor at The Daily Gazette.

Arts and Features Editor Lily Jamison-Cash ’15, Opinions Editor Aaron Dockser ’13, and Assistant News Editor Zoe Cina-Sklar ’15 participated in the student takeover of the meeting.

Correction: Duncan Gromko said that “climate change policy and divestment are not two mutually exclusive things,” not “are two mutually exclusive things,” as originally published. 

Correction: It was added to the article after initial publication that David Gelber was not present on Saturday because of family reasons that caused him to cancel. While it was implicit in the original published version that he was not present, it was not made explicitly clear, nor was a reason given.

Correction: Nathan Graf said that “Over the past two years, we’ve had over 25 closed-door meetings with members of the administration and they haven’t yielded anything except a verbal, non-binding agreement to having a panel in September.” There was no agreement about a report prior to the event.” NOT Board members haven’t yielded to anything over the past two years except to a verbal agreement to have a non-binding report by September,” as originally published.

Correction: Miriam Hauser said that “Students see the administration as people who are not aligned with them,” NOT “Students see the administration not been aligned with them,” as originally published.

Correction: Pat Walsh said ”We stand before you this morning as members of Mountain Justice to address concerns about our environment,” said Walsh, NOT “who press concerns,” as originally published.

Image and video courtesy of Swarthmore Mountain Justice

103 Responses to Student Protesters Take Over Open Board Meeting, State Wide Array of Concerns

  1. Rise And Fire Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 3:52 am

    A bunch of spoiled children who demand attention by barging in to a meeting and bringing exactly zero solutions to the table while claiming that you want “immediate action.” Enjoy all of the attention your little temper tantrum is getting, kids, because this will be your last chance to ignore how the real world actually works.

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    • LOL Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 8:30 am

      I sure hope you weren’t at the meeting, because students gave numerous concrete action proposals.

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    • Allison 16 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Policy solutions were suggested throughout the day. They included having more queer/trans faculty and faculty of color on tenure tracks, increased academic support for students of color (especially in sciences), more opportunities and financial aid options for undocumented students, the creation of a survivor advocate office, need blind financial aid for international students, required education about spaces such as the IC/BCC/WRC and the problems the address.

      Those are merely a small sampling of the solutions brought to the table. Solutions for sexual assault policy (immediately informing survivors of rights under Title IX, legal support for perpetrators and survivors) and policy regarding increased support for people of color have been proposed during meetings with Chopp, at community discussions, and in countless emails.

      I am angry. I am ready to shout to make these changes happen. But do not tell me that my peers and I have not been proposing concrete solutions, because we are the only ones in the discussion who are doing so.

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      • Joan Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 11:40 am

        Hey, can someone explain to me the idea of need-blind aid for international students? I think I’m a little bit confused by this.

        For international students who apply to Swarthmore, aren’t many of them very well off to begin with? Swarthmore isn’t on the radar for many international students I would imagine who aren’t? Also, to have the English skills necessary to thrive in Swarthmore’s high stress academic environment, don’t you already need to come from means? [Adding, also, that flying to America from another continent is another expense that I don't think would be covered by financial aid, meaning that students would have to be well off enough to afford this too.] In which case, would being needs-blind make a difference?

        I’d also like to add, that admissions already sorts out Swarthmore students who are residents in America into a different category from students who are not (four categories: US Citizen, Permanent Resident, American Abroad, and International).

        Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but this idea confused me :/

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        • Alumnus also Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

          I’m not sure how many international students you actually know well or if you have had a decent conversation with one about this topic. I’m sorry to respond like this, but your comment makes me feel further alienated as an “international student” who people don’t know and assume things about. There are many ways of getting to Swarthmore even within the US – there are high school level scholarships for people from diverse backgrounds that make it possible to access an elite institution like Swarthmore, for example, or different organizations (governmental and non) that encourage the same. Many international students arrive at Swarthmore because of opportunities that are not based on wealth but on merit. Others arrive at Swarthmore by pure chance or luck (if you were an immigrant to an English-speaking country as a child, for example, you can know English but not necessarily be wealthy). If Swarthmore is serious about diversity and inclusion, it shouldn’t make it harder for these students (like myself) to access a Swarthmore education, when it makes efforts to include non-wealthy students who are US citizens, residents or who randomly won the green card lottery. I personally know several international students who were admitted but just couldn’t afford going to Swarthmore because their aid offer was extremely low compared to other institutions.

          I find it hypocritical that Swarthmore benefits from having a certain percentage of international students in the name of DIVERSITY. If you’re going to financially benefit from a sector of the student population, at least portray it like it is.

          I don’t think international students who pay shouldn’t be at Swarthmore, of course not – but I do think that international students who can’t pay should be given the same support that US students are. Chopp has in fact said that this is important for the administration, except that they are waiting for when it is financially realistic. I understand that, but hopefully it won’t serve as an infinite excuse.

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          • Joan

            May 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

            Thanks for your response! I’ve also been asking around and hearing a lot about a divide in acceptance- different areas tend to send wealthier students than others, which means that what is perceived isn’t accurate.

            I pointed out the divisions in admissions because I thought that international students who are “domestic” are given the same benefits that citizens are. I’m hearing that that’s not the case, and it’s clearing up my confusion.

            I agree with your comment on the hypocrisy – and I’m sorry that I made you feel alienated!

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        • KR Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 4:56 pm

          I think the mass downvoting of this sort of comment can be such, such a problem.

          A person’s current thoughts might be very wrong or ignorant or built on too many assumptions, and that might be truly hurtful even if unintended to harm. But how do people who may mean well or be amenable to changing their minds–as Joan professed, and I think in our community we should treat this sort of statement as genuine on first blush–get disabused of or challenged on notions that may be incorrect or unnuanced if they are uselessly, anonymously voted down? And then, never these thoughts are never expressed, and thus never interrogated… and then just held privately. I feel like it creates an “us vs. them,” mentality.

          I think the true value of a person as an ally is often not whether they are coming into a conversation with the “right” positions precisely, but whether they are willing to reexamine and/or change their opinions when confronted with another real person’s opposition to their conceptions or behavior. I think driving these sorts of questions underground through blanket disapproval makes difficult these often jarring yet changeful conversations.

          That isn’t in the slightest to say people should restrain from making true emotional statements and speaking their truth (I think that’s often what can shock someone so as to rethink their thoughts, to be confronted with pain), or that it’s the job of people to always be the “good [x group]” who can swallow their genuine hurt and explain gently to someone out-group why their position sucks (as a queer person I often find myself having pressure to do this), but to jeer someone ostensibly curious and willing to listen (willing to listen being crucial here) is drawing lines and closing off the advancement of understanding in a way that seems both interpersonally and pragmatically (i.e., advancing good policy) counterproductive.

          (I do not think that “Alumnus also” is doing this and rather the opposite, that their response–both concerning their personal connection and explicating the situation–helps me understand this issue and is precisely the kind of response that I find so valuable. They do not ignore the fact that it sucks to have to be arguing from their position and point out clearly what could be wrong in the original thinking.)

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    • Sara '12 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Even though I strongly suspect that this is the most appropriate reaction, I think that since some of what’s in this comment might be echoed by more reasoned voices, here’s my take on a response:

      I think it’s strange that in essentially demanding that various college authorities do their damn jobs, it’s a problem for you that those clamoring for change haven’t, in your opinion, done enough to instruct those authorities on how to do their own jobs.

      Isn’t it the responsibility of those authorities to know how to do their jobs and then actually *do* them?

      Isn’t it bad enough that it’s become necessary to demand something that basic?

      Why should the onus be on the students to figure out other people’s basic responsibilities and then teach that to them?

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    • Claris '13 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

      As wonderfully thorough as this article is, it does not encompass everything that was said at the meeting, by students or board members. However, what the article does an excellent job of is reiterating the solutions//pathways to solutions that students and faculty presented. To name a few clearly stated in this article:
      1) Work towards establishing sensitivity training for members of the administration and faculty members in terms of sexual assault
      2) Research why people of color are not graduating in four years and explore these issues to see what students are going through
      3) Have more transparency on the board and in faculty and administration (presented by a professor)
      4) Provide more support for students of color in academics, particularly the natural sciences
      5) Divestment
      etc.

      I see solutions offered all throughout this article.
      Furthermore, as another student stated at the meeting (not in the article), these problems are presented to the Board because they were appointed to be problem solvers. They ultimately hold power that can be utilized to create and implement solutions.

      No, the real world doesn’t work this way, but that’s because often times much of the world doesn’t question the way the world works, nor do they push against it. This group of “spoiled children”, as you call them, is pushing against the structure to reverse the way the world works. Because it shouldn’t work in a way where we have to demand attention at this level to address and solve deep-rooted problems that are causing pain to people within our community.

      Indeed, there was a lot of anger and frustration behind the words of those who spoke, but how can they not be upset and frustrated after multiple people have felt personally threatened by the actions of people within their own community? You might call this a temper tantrum; we call this as a revolution.

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      • Jimmy Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

        HA HA HA, A revolution?

        Get out of the bubble.

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        • Webster Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

          “Revolution (noun): a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.”

          Yes, I would say this is the beginning of a revolution at Swarthmore.

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          • Eh

            May 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

            You assume the social order is going to be overthrown though. I can almost guarantee you that that will not happen. At best, some of the “demands” of the “revolutionaries” will be met – you’re not gonna create a new system.

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          • Presh Frince

            May 6, 2013 at 9:41 pm

            As an alumni of Swarthmore’s most noble department, English Literature, I can recall an old ballad that more or less sums up the situation:

            “Now this is the story all about how
            My life got flipped, turned upside down
            And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
            I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-air

            In west Philadelphia born and raised
            On the playground where I spent most of my days
            Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
            And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
            When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
            Started making trouble in my neighbourhood
            I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
            And said “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-air”

            I whistled for a cab and when it came near the
            License plate said “fresh” and had a dice in the mirror

            …wait, forget it, you kids are too young to understand.

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          • Claris '13

            May 7, 2013 at 5:43 am

            This is more a response to ‘Eh’, whose comment I for some reason cannot directly respond to.

            I should clarify. ‘Eh’ – fair enough, I agree that the movements in these past few days here at Swarthmore might not create an entirely new system, partially because the current system has shown it’s willingness to work with and listen to the movement and consider their “demands”. I also never said with certainty that this ‘revolution’ would be successful. Many that we see through history are not — the ones most notable in our minds are the few, incredible successes that managed to overthrow a deeply engrained system. I was trying to explain that what ‘Rise and Fire’ found symptomatic of a “temper tantrum” are also the beginnings of a revolution. It begins with the hurt, frustration and anger, the vocal outcries, and then the mobilization together to do something more.

            Also, Jimmy, I appreciate the use of a name and your honest feedback. But jaded much? Just because revolutions, and by this I mean an overthrow of the current system for a new one, are incredibly difficult does not mean they are impossible.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

      • Ainsworth Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

        A beautiful response from a beautiful girl…Claris, I will miss you when you leave here.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 10

  2. important note Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 5:24 am

    I think it’s important to note that the students who left were first clapped down by fellow students. Their voices literally drowned out.

    I don’t think silencing is ever right. Lots of students courageously brought up the hurt and pain that they felt from being silenced. Let’s not respond by turning around and silencing other students.

    Anger can be good and lead to good things, but when it makes us treat others in the exact way that we’ve suffered from being treated, where does that leave anyone?

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    • Claris '13 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 11:21 am

      You’re right, silencing is not okay. This incident was addressed during a debriefing directly after the open meeting. As I understand, the tactic of clapping people down was explicitly not meant to be used on students but only on members of the board or the administration who may have attempted to silence students. Since the debriefing, several students who attended the meeting have been drafting a letter of apology to the students who were clapped down.

      I know myself, as well as others, were uncomfortable with the situation, particularly because it caused the group of students to leave, thus taking their voices out of the conversation.

      At the same time, the structure of the meeting was very intentional and intended to prevent silencing. Everyone had to stand in line in order to speak. I think there was an immediate reaction that the students speaking up would disrupt this structure, hence why people felt the need to clap them down. I am not defending the action, but giving possible reasoning. There are a variety of opinions on this matter, but I am of the opinion that asking the students to get in line to speak was fine, clapping them into silence was not.

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      • Peera Reply

        May 10, 2013 at 1:00 am

        Yes, we drafted the letter of apology and sent it to those students who were clapped out. And we got a kind response.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  3. Nathan Graf '16 Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 5:49 am

    Minor misquotes in the article-
    I said “Over the past two years, we’ve had over 25 closed-door meetings with members of the administration and they haven’t yielded anything except a verbal, non-binding agreement to having a panel in September.” There was no agreement about a report prior to the event.

    Also, Duncan Gromko said
    “to say that working on climate change policy at international or domestic level and divestment- those two things AREN’T mutually exclusive and they can feed upon each other.” (emphasis mine)

    (I have access to the audio, so I promise these are perfectly accurate, not from memory.)

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    • Andrew Karas Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for pointing this out. We believe that you know what you said, but we are working on resolving your first issue with our notes and recording before we make a change.

      Several people, including Gromko himself, have pointed out that we printed the reverse of his quote. We have made the correction.

      Thanks,

      Andrew Karas
      News Editor
      The Daily Gazette

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      • Andrew Karas Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        Nathan, an update:

        Your quote should be corrected now. Please email me or Cristina (via the student directory) if there is a further issue.

        Andrew

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  4. Uhm Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Actually dozens of specific immediate actions were proposed. They just weren’t listed in this article.

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    • Andrew Karas Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Hi Uhm,

      Lots of specific immediate actions were listed in the article. I’m sure many people who were there can think of more, but we ran out of space to print them all.

      Thanks for reading,

      Andrew Karas
      News Editor
      The Daily Gazette

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  5. My Problem With MJ Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

    For the past 3-4 years they’ve noncessitantly asked people to educated themselves on climate change. How much educating have they done themselves on INVESTING?

    DG readers have given enough criticism for them to reflect on some of their shortcomings. Why haven’t they answered to them yet? Commenters of pointed out that they are asking for a level of divestment more stringent than the studies they use as proof that divesment is risk-free. In fact, Swarthmore is already compliant with those standards in the articles they presented.

    Other critics have read their literature and voicd their displeasure with their strategy of borrowing from the principle and how it, in fact, suggests that the endowment, and consequently returns will go down afterwards. Borrowing from the principal means lower returns at ANY interest rate. How can you not see that this means a lower rate of return?

    How many of the hundreds of you who went to the Board of Education meeting, have any experience comparable to the board in investing? I am willing to bet that almost of all you could have learned a great deal by listening to Mr Niemczewski, whom you interrupted.

    Do the words “Black-Sholes” or “Monte-Carlo” simulation mean anything to any of you? Check your ignorance. Pick up a book on investing PLEASE. I’m not saying that divesment is necessarily bad, but if you want to convince critics like me of why, you need to at least know the LANGUAGE.

    -Huzilla ’12

    tl;dr I have read up on MJ literature and have questions on their evidence. I wish their members would educate themselves on investing and risk management.

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    • Another alumnus Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

      While I do think that it would be good for MJ to learn a bit more about investing, I think it smacks of elitism to be throwing around words like Black-Scholes and Monte Carlo. As someone who studies probability, I understand what those things are but I would never in a millions years expect a layperson to, even if they had a year to learn them. Those are some deep, complicated results which one does NOT need to understand in order to debate whether it is good or bad to divest.

      Let’s not make this about “ignorant laypeople” vs. “enlightened financiers.” That’s just furthering the belief that those in power don’t care about engaging with those who aren’t.

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      • Good Points but... Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

        Another alumnus, I think you bring up a couple good points, but please allow me an opportunity to backtrack and respond.

        You are right, that throwing out terms as I did, might be a bit elitist, but I don’t think one needs to have a complete understanding of these tools to provide basic evidence for their. Let me give you the argument I WANT from MJ and you can judge for yourself whether it is too much to ask from a “layperson”:

        Because we are for divestment, we want the college to divest from a certain group of companies that we have deemed socially irresponisble. Here is empirical evidence that economists have used, runnings many simulations, that divesting from these socially irresponsible companies would not lower the rate of return that much and would not be that much worse than our current portfolio in worse case situations.

        To me, that is not too much to ask from generally gifted and bright SWARTHMORE students who asking for a change in the investment of potentially MILLIONs of dollars.

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        • grammar is bad today Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

          evidence for their case*

          Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • A counter point Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

        I think you’re right that throwing out these is elitist, but one doesn’t have to fully understand these concepts to improve one’s case for divestment. Furthermore, when you interrupt a board member who was giving an Investing 101 for layspeople lecture, I believe the ONUS is on you to at least have THOSE concepts mastered.

        Here is the argument I EXPECT when hundreds of bright and educated Swarthmore students make the case for divestment:

        Economic simulations have shown that a portfolio with our requirements met does not decrease returns by much and also doesn’t cripple the portfolio in doomsday scenarios.

        I don’t think it is too much to ask for ONE member of MJ to provide empirical evidence that this is the case. Swarthmore students are smart. I hold them to a high standard.

        -Huzilla

        tl dr: Swarthmore students don’t need to know elite portfolio management terms to make a better case for divestment

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        • Swarthmore 20X Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

          Even that would be an insufficient argument. The cost of running the endowment goes up when you start making special requests of the mutual/hedge funds that the endowment employs. Very simple.

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  6. Wasted Opportunity Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Mountain Justice, you have done a terrible injustice to the cause that you so fervently champion. Instead of keeping the focus on mining and drilling practices that so devastate communities and the environment, you have chosen to shut down discussion. “My way or the highway” is not how communities work. And yes, communities work slowly because collective decisions have to sort through information. Information which you chose to blot out in favor of grandstanding. You’ve rendering your cause no more significant than any of hundreds that can be brought to bear at any point in time. Bad move.

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    • Michelle '16 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Of course MJ’s focus is on mining, drilling, and other terribly unjust environmental issues. What MJ and others (including myself) did in this forum was to take the opportunity to work outside of an ineffective structure. The structure as it is, with committees loaded down by bureaucracy and a complete lack of transparency, is killing these issues. Also, by unifying with other activist groups on campus, MJ really made their case stronger. The intersections of these issues are important to notice and understand.

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      • Swarthmore 20X Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

        The BOD is not responsible for spreading your message. They are responsible for ensuring that in 100 years Swarthmore is still near the pinnacle of higher education.

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        • Michelle '16 Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm

          By making sure that Swarthmore is a leader in social responsibility, the BOD is ensuring that Swarthmore is still near the pinnacle in higher education.

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          • Swarthmore 20X

            May 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

            Social responsibility does not lead to quality education. Rigorous curriculum, well-respected teachers, and top-notch facilities normally do though.

            Nice try though.

            :-)

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 22

    • Emma Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Notice the wording: mountain JUSTICE! You can’t have a successful or JUST environmental movement that isn’t about environmental justice, and environmental justice includes the human realities of racism and sexism, taking into account the way those issues are intersectional with environmental concerns. As is dramatically visible in Appalachia, environmental oppression is just another tool to oppress people marginalized by class and race. Environmental destruction is a women’s issue because it affects reproductive health. But most of all, environmental destruction is an EVERYONE movement that both affects people of all identities, and is intertwined with MULTIPLE kinds of oppression. Environmental groups should offer their support for other kinds of injustice, not only because a fight for the environment is a fight for human justice and dignity in all respects, but also because that’s how you build a powerful movement! Participation in this event in no way undermined MJ’s cause, but rather, put it in the public eye and showed everyone how awesome MJ can be! They can still work through the system later, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take action now.

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  7. Another alumnus Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Mountain Justice doesn’t deserve to be called Mountain Justice anymore. It’s not about championing specific causes or about having a discussion or a dialogue. It’s all about power dynamics and getting what the protesters want. No doubt MJ’ers will counter by saying that those in power don’t care about those not in power, but that just proves the point that this is about power and the Man, not about issues.

    I mean, come on. This isn’t some evil corporation trying to screw you over. These are Swarthmore alumni, people who, by and large, are trying to help the institution move forward and are willing to listen to you. Just because the change you want doesn’t happen immediately doesn’t mean that they’re ignoring you.

    Bottom line: It’s not healthy to assume that everyone who isn’t (immediately) with you is against you.

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    • Wasted Opportunity Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      “Bottom line: It’s not healthy to assume that everyone who isn’t (immediately) with you is against you.”

      Precisely. Remember this quote?

      “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”-George W.Bush

      That didn’t work out so well for the nation. Absolutes seldom do. They fracture and divide rather than foster understanding and compromise.

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    • Hannah Jones '12 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      As a supporting member of Swarthmore Mountain Justice, and an alum, I am proud of the events at the Board meeting.

      Opening up the meeting to other students concerns was not a protest for protest’s sake and it was not grandstanding. Students got up and shared stories with immense bravery about sexual assault on campus, silencing the voices of marginalized communities, environmental injustice, the lack of support for international students, students of color, queer students, and low income students on Swarthmore’s campus, and other issues. It is insulting to say that students who went up and bore their souls about hard issues was just a move to grandstand. They got up because they have dealt with this shit for years with no action from the administration or the Board. Yes, things take time, but you should at least be able to see progress. Most students in the meeting said that they have seen little to no progress on any of these issues, and in fact have experienced active silencing and dismissal. For many of those students, this is the first time they have ever felt heard.

      After some students peed on the door of the Intercultural Center on Thursday night, a place that many students find to be the only safe space for them on campus, the floodgates broke. Issues that have existed all along were brought to the surface, and it would have been irresponsible and inconsistent of Swarthmore Mountain Justice to keep the open meeting with the Board (a rare circumstance) limited to discussion of divestment. If you think that meeting was “not about issues” then I don’t know what you think “issues” are. Sexual assault is an issue. Admission and support for undocumented students is an issue. Honoring histories of students of color on campus is an issue. Divestment is an issue. And these issues are all interconnected. Swarthmore is complicit with injustice on many levels, from people pissing on the IC, to the fossil fuel industry pissing on communities facing extraction.

      To assume that one struggle will be hurt by the championing of another is a false choice. Swarthmore can and must address all of these issues. They are not mutually exclusive and they are not unrelated.

      The Board has heard Swarthmore MJ’s arguments, Swarthmore MJ has heard the Board’s arguments. Both groups have been talking for two years. It is time for action, on divestment, and on the myriad of issues students brought to the space.

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      • MJ intellectually void Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm

        Talking for a long time about something is never uniquely sufficient grounds for action. Moreover, not doing anything is a form of action.

        Your kind of “progress” isn’t the only kind of progress, nor is it (obviously) the “best” or most popular or most effective. It might even be that the progress that many members of the Swat community want, at least as far as MJ goes, is not the one you want.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 19

    • M '10 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Claiming MJ is not about specific causes, and then saying it’s just about getting what they want, is pretty laughable. This also sits in the grand Swarthmore tradition of pretending that “discussion” is the only thing that changes things. Swarthmore didn’t divest from apartheid South Africa when the Board saw that apartheid is awful and they couldn’t morally fund it. They were fine with it until students took action.
      Also, MJ isn’t assuming that the Board is ignoring their demands, they have been told it explicitly. There is real harm being done by Swarthmore’s investments, and the Board has told MJ to buzz off. It was only with immense pressure that the Board agreed to have this forum at all – something they’ve NEVER DONE BEFORE.

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  8. AlumniAri Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Just want to reiterate everything members of the IC/BCC coalition are quoted in this article. We have tried to work for change within the system and under the suggestions of deans. We conducted participatory action research on our own needs, wrote 30 page reports, ran and won seats in student council, held meeting after meeting with deans where they over and over again put the responsibility back on us students who not only had to deal with the strenuous course work of the college but also the micro and macroagressions we faced on a daily basis navigating an institution that was not built for us to survive nonetheless thrive in as students who are of color, working class, queer, immigrants, and disabled To create the structural change needed on campus so that we would not feel unsafe or intimidated so that there would not be students on campus who think it is ok to LITERALLY pee on the place many of us call home. The place many of us spent nights together writing papers and supporting each other. Im so proud of those still on campus continuing a fight that has been passed down from class year to class year and inspired that they are working to SHIFT the power dynamics that have kept us in the same position begging people in positions of power at swat to make necessary change- to even just meet with us for a meeting.

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  9. Lauren '13 Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    The fact that so many people like the “spoiled children” comment is a testament to me that this campus community is not inclusive. How do you know at all if the people who are courageously standing up for inclusivity are ‘spoiled.’ What does that even mean in this context. THIS IS NO TEMPER TANTRUM, this is an attempt to give a microphone to the voices who have been historically silenced. And are you saying that just because the real world dismisses rape or people of color, that means we shouldn’t protest it here, or that it doesn’t matter? Am I supposed to say “I’m brown and I guess there is nothing I can do about it?” That’s messed up and whoever wrote that comment is messed up and whoever liked that comment is messed up. Get off your high horse and open your eyes and ears. People are hurt on this campus. People are sad and angry. We come to this school to have discourse and to seriously talk about what is otherwise stifled in the ‘real world.’

    If we are spoiled, you are ignorant. This comment saddens me so entirely.

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  10. Philly Community Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    As inspiring as it is for Philadelphia residents to read about Swarthmore’s provocative strides towards gender, race, and economic justice, it’s extremely disheartening to read the comments of their conservative students and peers in the paper.

    Nothing in my view does more to undermine Swarthmore’s reputation as a progressive, forward thinking university than the myopic and selfish posturing of the opposition in these articles…

    In a world of such incredible, unmitigated violence, to the extent that violence is present on campus (in the form of sexual assault, racial abuse, or thoughtless financial impropriety) it is absolutely astonishing to me that actual Swarthmore students would want to bury the needs of their peers beneath a flood of negativity and criticism.

    Irrespective of anyone’s objections to the style or manner in which these students raise their concerns, the obvious fact that these issues have not been competently addressed by the current administration demands a full accounting in which the students, as the aggrieved party, have every right to make demands.

    The idea that their fellow students would then actually try to intercede in these reforms, or try to discount the legitimacy of the students based on – what, their lack of technical felicity with investment risk models? – is just astonishing and frankly embarrassing.

    Nothing is more disrespectful, more pathetic, than people trying to stand in the way of progress – deeply necessary, overdue, and frankly uncontroversial among enlightened institutions – nothing is more disrespectful than standing in the way of progress with picky, squeamish, capricious criticisms.

    If you aren’t ready to move into the modern era and take a stand against rape, racism, and climate change, then you should at least have the dignity and strength of character to stay the hell out of the way while the people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and solve the problems of the world make their stand. But to actively oppose their efforts is an embarrassment to the traditions that Swarthmore is supposed to embody for the greater Philadelphia community, and those students should be ashamed of themselves. If there isn’t justice for reactionaries in this world, then hopefully there will be some in the next.

    “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” – Frederick Douglass

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    • Swarthmore 20X Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      “The idea that their fellow students would then actually try to intercede in these reforms, or try to discount the legitimacy of the students based on – what, their lack of technical felicity with investment risk models? – is just astonishing and frankly embarrassing.”

      Are you kidding me? I’m sorry that I am so concerned about Swarthmore maintaining its stature as one of the premiere places of higher education, not only the country, but in the world. That is what the endowment is for, not a social movement.

      Progress for the sake of progress is hardly progress at all.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 36

      • Tayarisha Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm

        you almost quoted Dolores Umbridge.

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        • Dolores Umbridge Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

          Let me clarify my aforementioned point.

          “…progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. Let us preserve what must be preserved, perfect what can be perfected and prune practices that ought to be… prohibited!”

          Hem-hem.

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    • Lionel Hutz, Attorney at Law Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      I think you’re using a strawman argument here when you say that people are “standing in the way of progress” or “aren’t ready to move into the modern era” with these criticisms. While I agree that a lot of what has been said in opposition to these students is frankly out of line, there are genuine criticisms (and not as you say “picky, squeamish, and capricious) to be made about such an approach. In the case of Mountain Justice, grandstanding and interrupting a person who is trying to present information at a meeting is incredibly rude and seems to suggest that they’re not interested in what anyone else has to say. Also the criticism about a “lack of technical felicity with investment risk models?” is not trivial, given the scope of the possible consequences that divestment could have for the college. As other posters have already elaborated better than I could, maybe they haven’t done all the homework needed to be informed on such a momentous decision.

      By labeling those who disagree and have legitimate criticisms about the way information was presented as active enemies or caveman, you’re doing nothing to provide for an actual dialogue and only makes those who have qualms with some of this stronger in their disagreement or even resentment.

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    • Philly Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      The Philadelphia community does not like or care about Swarthmore College.
      Its very hard for a hardworking blue collar area to get behind 18 year old kids on a soap box their parents bought for them.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 30 Thumb down 37

      • KR Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        Yes, because a majority of students aren’t on financial aid at Swarthmore??? … oh… wait?…

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  11. Alumnus also Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    “You’ve rendering your cause no more significant than any of hundreds that can be brought to bear at any point in time.” (sic)

    Have you heard of intersectionality? Don’t compare one type of oppression to another, it betrays implicit privilege. On a global scale, climate change affects some people more than others, and not by coincidence. MJ is an ally to frontline, low-income communities. At a Swarthmore scale, the point is that there are interconnected issues of power, authority and an institutional logic that *isn’t working* (to put it one way) for *some students more than others* – again, no coincidence.

    I doubt this action was about power for the sake of power, and not fundamentally about the issues at hand. In my understanding, there has been much dialogue prior to this event (in terms of MJ, 25 meetings I think and at least two years of campaigning? in terms of the IC/BCC community, being on committees, on StuCo, talking to the administration, a survey, etc?). I think there is never “enough” dialogue but I do think that there is a time when concrete action must be contemplated (seriously contemplated, not just talked about), especially when it’s about urgent issues of community concern. Just because you hold one event where the aim is to say:
    1. this is seriously urgent, we need action now, *when so much time has passed and issues remain* and
    2. to present concrete solutions from the perspective of students
    *when those solutions haven’t been taken into account before*
    … doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been dialogue, that there won’t be dialogue, and that there isn’t dialogue right now. To me, this is one event in a series of events organized by both students and the administration (and the board, whose love of Swarthmore no-one is questioning by the way). To say these aren’t urgent issues or that this action was “too extreme” when it is responding to extreme concerns and fears and sadness is to ignore the reality of many students on campus. That’s a kind of Swat bubble I don’t want to be a part of.

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  12. Student at another liberal arts college Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    As a student at a school where there are similar race and sexual harassment problems, as well as a struggle against local environmental issues (fracking here), it is a relief to hear that we aren’t the only ones, both with these problems, and also with students who care enough to stand up and insist on having the needs of themselves and their peers met. Keep fighting the good fight.

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  13. MJ intellectually void Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    MJ is just intellectually void or sanctimonious.

    MJ needs to convince us of divestment’s impact. If we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot, we ought to get _some_ “payoff,” even if it’s not really a payoff. Because even in broad game theoretic framework, it’s hard to see how even widespread divestment affects the market when the market remains full of investors seeking higher risk/volatility ratios.

    Even worse, unclear is how to draw a consistent line on fossil fuel. Virtually EVERYTHING we consume is facilitated by OH SO DIRTY fossil fuels. If we have a problem with fossil fuel, and consumption of “most other things” _NECESSITATES_ use of fossil fuel, then, within the framework of reason (to which I’d hope we’d agree to restrict ourselves) we must have problem with consumption of most other things too! Do we DIVEST IN “MOST OTHER THINGS”?

    DIVEST IN ALL THE THINGS.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 29

    • M '10 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Classic reactionary slippery slope argument: “If we decide to take action against some bad things, doesn’t that mean we have to take action against every bad/ambiguous thing ever?” MJ has specific demands to divest from certain companies that do the most harm. Seems like you haven’t actually read Mountain Justices demands or reasoning, and then gone ahead and called them intellectually void.

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      • MJ intellectually void Reply

        May 7, 2013 at 8:46 am

        Um no. I have skimmed MJs stuff.

        You can’t just ignore a slippery slope because it’s inconvenient. Moreover, the argument I use is not one of “slippery slope” but rather of logical consistency. If we accept MJs premise that fossil fuels “are bad” then logically necessitated is action with respect to all fossil fuels. MJs specific interests in action are irrelevant if underlying motives remain this “fossil fuel = bad” — what authority has MJ on defining response to this motivation over other students or interests?

        I don’t think logical consistency is really that much to ask for.

        I even think your “slippery slope” is worse than first imagined– if MJ runs on a platform of social responsibility, etc., as foundational motivation (and we agree this motive is enough to act), then when is social responsibility, etc _not_ enough to act? It doesn’t take much time to find most of the things in which we invest have some possibly latent messed up socially irresponsible traits. Do we divest then? Why not?

        This is reasonable logical consistency that is probably demanded from you in your classes. Or maybe not.

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    • what MJ has made clear for the past two years Reply

      May 7, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Divestment’s Impact:
      1. Introducing larger actors (institutions) with more influence and power (which so often equates to money) into the discussion that will eventually lead to legislation. As has been proven by the inability of our political system to produce powerful legislation so far, the public and institutions of justice and the people have to make clear their commitments.
      2. Changing the political climate by tendering illegitimate arguments about climate change that only take the economic impact of possible actions into account.
      3. Testifying to the fact that the free market is not devoid of politics and therefore the effects of power, that allowing the continuation of what has been set up to provide financial benefits/enable investment/ produce capital actively reinforces the power dynamics and climate impact which currently people suffer from and that soon we will all suffer from.
      4. Publicly shaming companies who base profit projections on irreversible impact on the Earth’s climate.
      5. Stopping the futzing around which so far has characterized discussions and action on climate change because “no action will fix everything.”
      6. Improving the precedent of action and shifting what is deemed common sense so that intelligent people, like you “MJ intellectually void,” can better spend their energy coming up with solutions to the problem we all share rather than trying to keep action from being taken.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

      • MJ intellectually void Reply

        May 7, 2013 at 11:36 am

        1. The best you have is that it _may_ lead to legislation. The “evidence” you present has not “proven” anything of the sort.

        2. Yes yes, externalities are bad. But how do you tell someone who’s been two years unemployed that the attempts not obviously even very effective to combat climate change are not less important than supporting their livelihoods?

        3,4 . This isn’t a universal reason. This is a reason of at most limited subjectively given importance.

        5. No one demands that attempts will fix everything. What I demand is that MJ consider tradeoffs in action proposals and relevant counterfactuals. Indeed, scarce resources constrain our existence, so if we’re going to do anything, we need to make sure it’s sufficiently effective, efficient so as to not disadvantage others without reason. Your apparent impatience (and characterization of talk as futzing) is not sufficient for action.

        6. My world and perception is not given or significantly affected by my empirical observations about the normative world. Providing precedence _ought_ never be a reason to do something –– we ought to do things because they are intrinsically good. It should be obvious that nothing that I’ve written necessitates that I try to “keep action from being taken.” Skeptical I am of the kind of action you propose, not all action in general. Problematic then is the lens you seem to use to understand criticism: Not all (especially my) criticism is contrary to your general intuitions about what “is right” or “ought to be.” Rather, I criticize your proposals for putting these intuitions into action.

        Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  14. MJ intellectually void Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    lol … higher return/volatility … lolololol

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  15. I'm Curious Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    How did Nate Erskine ’10 get on the Board of Managers at such a young age? Is there a spot specifically for recent graduates? Or was Nate just super amazing during his time at Swat?

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    • Alumna Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Andrew Karas Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        Hi Alumna,

        As an editor and an author of this article, I would like to remind you that this website is a public forum where the common interest is in truth and honesty. Your anonymous comments attacking a particular individual may be accurate–how could I know?–but they are your opinion, and they deserve to be treated as nothing greater than your opinion. None of us are perfect, commenters included. And while you may choose not to reveal your name, I can still see your email.

        Please keep it polite.

        Andrew Karas
        News Editor
        The Daily Gazette

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        • Nick Felt Reply

          May 8, 2013 at 4:32 am

          Seriously?! I can’t believe that, after the numerous horribly offensive and/or blatantly misleading comments that the DG has approved so far this semester, *this* is one that you’ve chosen to call out. Yes, it expresses a negative perception of a specific individual, if that’s your issue with it, but so have dozens of far worse comments on recent articles, ones that have virtually never been questioned. Go have a commenting policy, sure, but, well – at least *try* to make it look consistent!

          Because right now you’ve put yourself in the rather uncomfortable position of explaining – given the DG’s goals, as you describe them, of truth, honesty, and politeness – why the hell the editors see it fit to approve this fucked-up post, among other pieces of hate speech.

          It’s long past time for the DG to step in when comments cross lines, but the comment by “Alumna” is far, far from the right place to start – and besides, you already approved it! If a comment doesn’t pass muster, then for crying out loud, don’t put it on the site – isn’t that why the DG has a review system? Approving the comment and then publicly threatening to de-anonymize it is both unhelpful and completely unprofessional. Nobody here is perfect, right. That includes the DG editors – and you need to reconsider your approach to comment moderation.

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          • Andrew Karas

            May 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

            Nick,

            You’re right, there are many, many comments on the site that need to be called out. I along with Cristina Matamoros ’14 will be the Co-Editors-in-Chief in the fall, and we are strongly considering having a comment policy review with input from the College community and all of our readers. You’re right to call out that particular fucked-up post.

            As News Editor for the rest of the semester, I will pass your message along to Co-Editors-in-Chief Max Nesterak ’13 and Nick Gettino ’13.

            Our policy has tended to lean heavily toward free speech and self-moderation, and my decision to call out the one “Alumna” that I called out was motivated in part because, as author of the article, I was spending more time than usual rereading it and carefully considering the comments. Another reason I called them out was because I could see their email, though many “anonymous” commenters, like the Columbia student trolling this article, reveal themselves to the editors. So “Alumna” is not the only one, you’re right.

            I apologize that we haven’t been consistent with our treatment of commenters. We do go through comments quickly in order to approve them, but not so quickly that hate speech can’t be recognized and dealt with.

            Thank you for being frank with us, and thanks too for using your real name. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of readers agree with you, and I hope we can come up with a policy in the fall that makes The Daily Gazette a better place for discussion.

            Andrew Karas
            News Editor
            The Daily Gazette

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          • Nick Felt

            May 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

            (I’d reply directly but it’s already at the maximum depth.)

            Andrew,

            Thanks so much for your thoughtful response to the concerns that I pointed out perhaps a bit too harshly above. I’m heartened to know that you’ll be reconsidering the comment policy and I think that having input from the community is a great idea. I recognize that DG does have to handle a high rate of comments at times and it’s difficult to find the balance between being quick and being careful. But this is where a clear and consistent comment policy would help – one that prohibits hate speech and impersonation, among other misbehaviors – and I’d also encourage the DG to implement a way to let users flag a comment for editorial review.

            In the other direction, I’m still not sure that the comment above specifically warranted being called out. As I imagine you recall, the fucked-up comment I linked to above was also on an article that you authored (though given that that one had 200+ comments, I understand that you might not have been carefully monitoring them all). And I personally think that de-anonymizing a comment should be reserved for transgressions serious enough that the comment shouldn’t have been approved in the first place anyway.

            All this said, I realize that the DG editors are only human. Like many people, I’ve been impressed with the DG’s news coverage this semester – I believe that these articles have been vital in furthering reasonable discussion on campus and making marginalized voices heard. I just want to see the DG’s comment moderation working toward the same goal.

            Nick

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      • Huzilla '12 Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

        Nate was voted StuCo VP. It seems like there were at least few student voices that agreed with his platform.

        -Huzilla

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    • Sara B. Reply

      May 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

      There are slots specifically set aside for recent grads. Nate was nominated by the Board largely on the basis of his time as Stu-Co VP (according to him).

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      • I'm Curious Reply

        May 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

        Thanks!

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. jeannebodine Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Swarthmore Residnet Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Swarthmore 20X Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        While I agree with the fact that many students generally fail to understand the nuances and hardships of the real world, Swarthmore provided me with one hell of an education and an avenue into a TERRIFIC job.

        That is certainly no joke.

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      • MJ intellectually void Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

        Yep. Swarthmore is a huge joke.

        Except that it remains one of the most rigorous institutions in the country.

        But other than that. Huge joke.

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      • Joseph Hagedorn '15 Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm

        You may be right, but I’d wager 99% of the people attending Swarthmore College can spell “resident”.

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        • chief keef Reply

          May 6, 2013 at 11:34 pm

          OOOOOH SICK BURN BRAH. HOW DO YOU EVEN COME UP WITH THIS SHIT?

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        • you got her Reply

          May 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

          people like you are the reason people hate us

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  17. Stephan '08 Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I understand the frustration of current students but in my opinion they squandered a fantastic opportunity to further the cause of divestment.

    It is a testament to the board’s efforts to be accommodating that they stayed and listened. Actually, at most institutions these students would have been thrown out and arrested (I’m not saying that should have happened). The board of managers is full of (possibly reluctant) allies — alienating them by hijacking a meeting was not a smart move. This is not the sort of thing that encourages the board to host more open meetings.

    There is precedent at the college for divestment, but it’s not something that should be taken lightly considering the primary educational goals of the institution. In particular, it is essential to understand the costs — exactly what we would have learned from that first talk.

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  18. Huzilla '12 Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I’m really curious as to what Board Finance Committee Chair Chris Niemczewski ’74 was going to say.

    While it may be unrealistic, would it be possible for the DG to get in touch with him and ask him for his slides or something?

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    • Andrew Karas Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      Hi Huzilla,

      In fact, when we reached out to him, we asked him to send us his presentation and offered to post a video or audio version that might incorporate his voice on a narration track. His response was “I’ll get back to you,” and while we may not see more until August, I can tell you that several Board members were anxious to see his presentation, well, presented to the public.

      Thanks for asking,

      Andrew Karas
      News Editor
      The Daily Gazette

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    • Stephan '08 Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Agreed, I would be extremely interested to see this.

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  19. Anjali Jaiman '10 Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Swarthmore is a bubble. An incredibly fucked up and filled with power and privilege type of bubble. Also a bubble that has a bunch of quite amazing people some of who are extremely privileged and some of whom were not until the stepped foot onto the campus. BUT just because it is a bubble does not mean that you do not fight to change it. Just because the students are or have become privileged does not mean that they don’t have important things to say. Just because they are young doesn’t mean that they don’t want to make a difference and haven’t thought things through.

    You fight for justice where you are. You fight for yourself where you are. You speak truth to power where you are. Just as you love and live and study and work and dream where you are. Students who are working towards a better, safer and slightly less fucked up institution are doing what they should be doing. Any criticism that they had no demands….is clearly untrue. Any criticism that their concerns don’t matter, also isn’t true. We should all work towards more a more just world wherever we are. Especially if we are lucky or privileged enough in an institution of power like Swarthmore.

    When I was at Swarthmore; I did the same thing–I fought for the institution because I wanted the institution to be a better place. Generally the job of the board of managers is to maintain the prestige and power of the institution, but there are radical ways of looking at what an institution like Swarthmore can be for the students, the staff, the community outside and society as a whole. An institution like Swarthmore does not just have to be a site of privilege that produces the next generation of the elite. It could be something quite amazing. But its not. The role of student activists is to push the envelope and to imagine what an institution like Swarthmore could be. When I tried to get access to the board of managers it was very difficult almost impossible to get an audience with the decision makers. So if it takes confrontation, then it takes confrontation, and we should be respectful of the fact that tremendous healing can come out of confrontation.

    I hope that student continue to do these kinds of amazing things for as long as the institution is around. And I hope that alumni and people in the area can support people brave enough to stand up and work for a better world on a micro level, because that is where it is where your voice is most powerful, your work is most useful and your change will have a tremendous impact.

    Eventually all students will leave Swarthmore. They will move to other communities and live and love and struggle. And that is how it is meant to be. But why should the board of managers have the only impact on the future of the school. Don’t students themselves, who are often imaginative and energetic and smart, also have a right to make demands on the institution. They want to see change because they are there and they love the place and because they dream.

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    • '12 Reply

      May 7, 2013 at 5:31 am

      That was really well said. Thank you for providing context like that.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

    • THIS Reply

      May 7, 2013 at 5:51 am

      THIS TIMES A THOUSAND. I want to print this and give it to everyone, no matter where they stand on all these issues. Thank you, Anjali.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

    • jeannebodine Reply

      May 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      But shouldn’t college be about learning the truth? When I stumble across articles like this I can’t believe my eyes. I only live 25 minutes away from Swarthmore and it might as well be another planet.

      How is it OK for students to learn that they can burst into and take over a meeting because they “feel” their problems aren’t being addressed?

      These students who have the latest gadgets, plenty to eat, heat, A/C, go to an elite school basically demand that the school divest from energy companies because it makes them “feel” good. What about the effects of their “green” efforts on poor countries who don’t yet have electricity and live in the dark with no heat? Or American communities who lose jobs & their livelihoods? I guess as long as these students have what they need, they’re OK with it. They’ll just perform “indulgences” like divestment, protests & Earth Day activities, and there’s no need to think any further about it. But I thought that was what college was about: to learn to think critically.

      And then reading in the article about all the other problems – hurt feelings, offense taken at almost everything, alleged intimidation, complaints of not enough support for students of color, pleas for more undocumented students, sensitivity training demanded, protests over urination, etc. And not being involved in academia, when I read all this, I have to say, “WHOA! What the heck is going on here?”

      Either Swarthmore is a living hell on earth and should be shut down immediately with tuition refunded or colleges have lost sight of their original mission and have allowed the inmates to take over the institution.

      Granted I graduated from college in 1976. We went to college to learn and we did so with very little disruption despite the tumultuous times. Sure there were protests but we knew who was in charge. Higher education at that time still had a lot of basic requirements (the horror!) so even though graduates faced a tough job market, I think we were more grounded and flexible. In any event, almost all colleges at the time prepared students for the real world.

      From what I gather, today’s colleges seem to promote a hothouse environment of victim mentality, bizarre academic specialties, general neurosis, and various identity groups based on race, gender, nationality and God-knows-what-else.

      There appears to be something deeply wrong with higher education today and it’s not just Swarthmore. We do our children a real disservice if we don’t root it out and correct it. It’s not that I think college should merely be job-training; certainly, a love of learning, expanding one’s horizons and various other goals are equally important. But preparation for the real world is essential. And I’d definitely add in diversity of thought and belief systems which is completely absent on most campuses. I don’t know how to fix it but I do know that recognizing it is the first step and if reading this article does not alarm you, then I guess the system is too corrupted at this point. I hope that isn’t true but I fear it’s too late.

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      • Just Your Average Swattie Reply

        May 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        WE HAVE ALREADY LEARNED EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW WHEN WE STEP ON SWARTHMORE’S CAMPUS. OBVIOUSLY YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND OUR SUPERIOR INTELLECT.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

      • Sara '12 Reply

        May 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        Not so minor point: dorms do NOT have air conditioning.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

      • msomoso1 Reply

        May 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        “…Preparation for the real world is essential. And I’d definitely add in diversity of thought and belief systems which is completely absent on most campuses. I don’t know how to fix it but I do know that recognizing it is the first step and if reading this article does not alarm you, then I guess the system is too corrupted at this point. I hope that isn’t true but I fear it’s too late.”

        Well said. This is what Swatties, including myself, are sorely lacking.

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    • James '15 Reply

      May 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

      tl;dr

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • Jimbo '15 Reply

      May 8, 2013 at 10:29 am

      tl;dr

      also, don’t you have actual work to do?

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  20. Common Sense Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Divestment people, why don’t you divest your parents’ 401(k) or pension fund first? Let’s see how that turns out and how much less money there are for them to live on when they retire? Also, when you actually get a job in the real world which you certainly won’t have problems with, you should DEMAND your employers that your 401(k) be invested honorably. I think the money managers will be happy to go trough the trouble and accommodate you. Don’t they say something like be the change you want to see in the world? So if you want to divest, start with yourself. Be the example the college can look up to. What do you say?

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    • Uhm Reply

      May 7, 2013 at 12:32 am

      But the students are the paying customers, not the employees.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 13

      • bob dole Reply

        May 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        Fair enough, but I don’t think that’s what their response would be – that their support for divestment is legitimate because they are paying customers. I think they would argue it based on higher morale principles.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

        • Nitpickin' Reply

          May 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

          Sadly, morale is definitely not higher.

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  21. Mary Beth Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I sense an assumption here that should be questioned: It is the role of students to uncover injustice and the responsibility of college administrators to fix it. If students are enacting injustices upon each other, the administration is primarily responsible for stopping it. No need for students to reflect on the culture they create and re-create everyday. When it comes to global warming, if Swarthmore isn’t on the vanguard of protest, it’s an immoral institution and its leaders are immoral people deserving contempt. Swarthmore’s leaders are caring and responsible people. If they have made mistakes, it’s good to ask questions and raise concerns. They’ve shown a willingness to hear every grievance. But, considering that so much of the distress focuses on student-to-student interactions, what peacemaking skills can students bring to the table?

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  22. An alum '12 Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I take issue with calling people from working-class homes, students of color, and queer and trans people spoiled children.

    I take issue with calling them spoiled children when they are asking for change in areas which they are NOT spoiled, in which they are disenfranchised.

    I also take issue with the “real world” claim. The corporate world is not the real world. The law world is not the real world. Your NGO is not the real world. Your school is not the real world. Every place is a bubble, and one thing I know for sure is that in the real world, if you want something done, you need to PUSH and ASK for it, otherwise it will NEVER get done. The means through which you might go through (pressuring bureaucrats vs. suing vs. staging a takeover vs. etc) are different, but ultimately, in the real world, NOBODY will be there for you. You have to take on your own initiative to change things, to get things done, and this is a way which they are trying to do that after all other means failed (meetings with deans, administrators, faculty, etc.)

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  23. truth Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    It would be impossible to have an endowment this size not invested in corporations. If you really think about it, there are very few corporations that you could justify investing in. So there would be no place to invest the endowment if you closely look at the inequities of every corporation that can deliver a financial return for the school.

    For instance, CEOs of health insurance companies make as much as $35 million a year, while raising premiums and cutting back on coverage. So really there should be no investments in these companies, due to the inequalities.

    Ditto for food companies (causing much obesity/health problems with processed foods), car companies (make gas guzzling cars and nonrecyclable batteries), financial institutions (charge exorbitant fees for profit-making purposes), nearly every retail company (worker exploitation), high tech companies (privacy issues, exploitation of workers overseas), etc.

    Are Citibank (exploits financial investments), WalMart (exploits workers), facebook (exploits privacy) or Google (also exploits privacy and promotes capitalism) going to be “purer” investments? There really can be no endowment investments, if one wants to have a billion dollars grow or even stay intact.

    Unless the endowment is just dissolved and distributed to poor people as microloans to begin small businesses (capitalistic motives), then it will be tainted by the same logic used to demand divestment of petroleum company holdings.

    Personally, I think there are larger issues to focus on and put energy into, such as getting American service people out of Afghanistan, helping wounded veterans, assisting low income victims of sexual abuse, cleaning up cities and mentoring students at risk of dropping out of high school, and so many others.

    I realize the answer will be “Swarthmore students volunteer and work to help people” but it just seems to me that there is a tremendous amount of energy going into this divestment project for very little real return of social investment. I hope that the Board will not cave in to these divestment demands, as this is a band aid approach to real societal change.

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  24. truth Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    I think that you also need to think of where your donor money comes from. Much of it was made in stock trades or businesses that involve petroleum products.

    One big supporter of the College has made lots of money making SPAM, the original plastic food, which is transported all over the country on gas guzzling vehicles.

    Other Swarthmore supporters have made lots of money in law defending petroleum companies, in stock trades or funds that involve petroleum companies, or own companies that sell products manufactured in exploitative third world factories and shipped to the US by petroleum-using vehicles.

    Actually, all donations should pass a test that ascertains whether money came from the exploitation of workers or the use of petroleum products.

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  25. '10 Alum Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 3:52 am

    One point I can’t quite clarify from the sources I have access to as an alum: what would be some additional concrete responses desired from the administration by the very rightfully aggrieved members of the IC/BCC/allied communities who have had to endure repeated disrespects/attacks to their spaces… and what additional/unreported context should we know?

    The DG reported that the administration issued what seems to me (caveat; not saying this is “the right reading”) like a series of communications that were very prompt, active (posting a public safety guard, calling a rare collection), fairly open how things have gotten out of hand (e.g., referring to past incidents), and condemnatory. (This enough surprised me–at least back in my day it, for example, took DG articles for people to know that bathrooms in Mertz had been [twice, I believe?] defaced with personal and misogynist attacks… so, I come at this from the perspective of, “wow, we’re dealing with this shit AT ALL???”). And my gut response is that the defacement is the work of a disgruntled group of narcissistic losers who are getting their jollies off on showing the underclasses their place, and that if caught they would likely be at least suspended at this juncture (though, perhaps not as we’re learning from the brave reports on sexual assault from Mia, Hope, and others). However, I don’t have the full context here and would really like to get more “at this” since it is so important. Have there been flags in the past that have been ignored? Were there supposed to be safety protocols in place way earlier than now?

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  26. John '15 Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I never thought I’d say this, but this I think professors aren’t giving students enough work. Some people have just way too much free time on their hands.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 22

  27. Student Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I fully support the recent steps to contact the board about the problems the administration has regarding sexual assault and such, but be wary of that movement being used to further MJ’s goals as well.
    Divestment, while ideologically sound, has little rationality behind it. Not only will it affect essentially nothing regarding the practices of these companies (the stock market decides very little on the actual operation of these companies, and sold shares will simply be bought by others), but it is also clear it would harm the college’s endowment.
    Yes, investment in these companies is morally wrong. I would, however, much rather that people see clearly and realize that divestment is a solely ideologically-based campaign that will not actually change anything meaningfully. MJ’s time would be better spent lobbying the government or state representatives to change the actual practices of these companies.

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  28. Alumnus Reply

    May 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    As someone who is largely incredibly sympathetic to all of the student movements that have been going on at Swat this semester (even divestment, though I have many of the similar intellectual/operational questions voiced earlier), I must say that MJ has shot themselves in the foot. And not just for these causes at Swarthmore, but nationally.

    I work at another highly prestigious institution of higher education that is considering divestment. And they are not just thinking about it in their own context, they are thinking about it in a national context. Every day we get news clippings from across the country about divestment efforts. I know they are read and discussed. Daily Gazette articles are often included in them. Occupying a meeting like this allows opponents of divestment to paint a narrative of divestment advocates as rude and stiflers of dialogue. And what’s worse, such a portrayal, which could have been attacked as a caricature previously, is now accurate.

    The real winners of this meeting, looking from the outside (and the outside optics of such events are just as important, even more important nationally, than the internal) are the Board of Managers. When faced with callous student disruption they remained calm, listened, and rolled with the punches. The fact that the Board was even having an open forum like this is amazing. I know that not many other colleges would even have it (not to use it as an excuse, I think more colleges SHOULD, but still, the reality remains). This was also an opportunity for students to learn the perspective of board members about the topic of divestment, no small issue given that they are tasked with the long term financial viability of the college. Not only was that educational opportunity lost to students, but now to the extent that Swarthmore was being followed by decision makers in other colleges, the credibility is shattered. I know that the Convergence was noticed. That the editorial, complete with footnotes, was read. And now Swarthmore will be known as housing the students who disrupted the very well meaning open session on divestment and climate change.

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  29. Opinion Reply

    May 10, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Article from today’s wsj about global warming that disagrees wth the premise, by these professors from U-Wisc and Princeton:

    Mr. Schmitt, an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was an Apollo 17 astronaut and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico. Mr. Happer is a professor of physics at Princeton University and a former director of the office of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy.

    “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide
    The demonized chemical compound is a boon to plant life and has little correlation with global temperature.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323528404578452483656067190.html?mod=WSJ_article_comments#articleTabs%3Darticle

    “Crop yields in recent dry years were less affected by drought than crops of the dust-bowl droughts of the 1930s, when there was less carbon dioxide. Nowadays, in an age of rising population and scarcities of food and water in some regions, it’s a wonder that humanitarians aren’t clamoring for more atmospheric carbon dioxide. Instead, some are denouncing it.

    We know that carbon dioxide has been a much larger fraction of the earth’s atmosphere than it is today, and the geological record shows that life flourished on land and in the oceans during those times. The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.”

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  30. Alex Imas '10 Reply

    May 11, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    It’s a credit to the Board of Managers members that they didn’t walk out of this spectacle. Frankly, I’m embarrassed that something like that happened at Swarthmore.

    Frankly, all of the issues presented are valid– overwhelmingly, alumni (and the Board for that matter) believe in combating climate change, are sickened by sexual assault on campus, find people urinating on the IC door ignorant at best and terribly intimidating at worst, and would like to see the best possible academic program as possible at Swarthmore. But the way this was carried out was unbelievably rude, disrespectful, and arrogant.

    To begin with, the Board meets four times each year. Its job is to deal with big-picture issues at the college: managing the endowment, deciding which big-ticket projects to invest in, hiring the college President, etc. As offensive and intimidating as people peeing on the door of the IC is, there’s not much someone in that position can do about it. In terms of sexual assault issues on campus, the Board is no doubt aware that a lawsuit was filed… and it looks like the school has taken steps to fix those problems. Beginning with President Chopp apparently looking to hire a dean specifically to deal with those issues. Again, why hijack a Board meeting? Why not send them a letter? Or request to meet with them? These are, believe it or not, well-intentioned people; they’re not the Gestapo. Probably worst of all, Mountain Justice made its proposal and the Board clearly considered it. Mr. Niemczewski prepared a presentation specifically to address those concerns. He was pre-emptively shouted down and not allowed to give his presentation. That’s offensive.

    Frankly, students, it’s time to rethink your approach. You’re 18-23 or so years old. You don’t have all the answers. If you have a problem and people don’t address it in the way you’d like, it doesn’t mean that they’re knaves or fools or that they only care about the school’s “brand” and are ready to throw values under the bus. Rather, they’re people who recognize that a lot of these are difficult issues. And the approach students advocate for, believe it or not, may not make sense.

    That’s not to suggest that the administration and the Board are always right, or that the issues being brought up aren’t real issues; I promise you no one thinks sweeping sexual assault under the rug is a good idea, or that climate change isn’t a real concern. Rather, making smart changes is hard, and well-intentioned people can disagree over the way to achieve these goals in a smart way. Which is why the process often takes a long time.

    I think it’s time for all of you to look in the mirror and think about who it is that isn’t listening. In some cases, no doubt, it is the administration. Sometimes it may be the Board. Plenty of times, I promise it’s you. Start by recognizing that Board members aren’t serving for the money or because they want their business clients to come into their office and come away really really impressed by their Swarthmore diploma; they do it because they love the institution and the ways in which it shaped them, and want to continue molding it into the best possible place. By all means, go to the Board, engage with them, send them e-mails, bring up your concerns. But DON’T assume that, if whatever you want done doesn’t happen, it’s because these are evil people with no conscience; consider that it might be that they’ve considered your view and disagree. And that, in plenty of cases, it’s you that has a lot to learn.

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  31. Parent of alumnus Reply

    August 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    In response to Jeannebodine, I am the parent of a Swat graduate and you are misinformed about my Swat student. She is neither an elite rich student nor does she have the latest gadgets. She worked pastime year round since she was 15 yrs old. She took almost every AP class her high school had so she could learn and better herself. In doing so she was fortunate to be accepted and attend Swarthmore College, which is academically first rate. But she also faced many challenges while there that went well beyond academics and some of these things need to be changed. I understand your employment frustrations as another child of mine is unemployed and also had the misfortune of needing two emergency surgeries and has no health insurance! I had not had a vacation in over a decade when I went to my student’s graduation ceremony. It was the first time I was ever in the NE of USA. Imagine how I felt arriving at 2 am to get the key for the room I rented on campus and the key didn’t work. Swat public safety found that a couple had taken my room, so proceeded to give them my room keys and gave me one of the two keys they had that fit the room they put me in. I asked public safety for the other key the couple had as I did not feel safe with strangers having access to my luggage and room. Public safety told me not to worry if something was stolen they knew where to get it back from! Seriously! My experience was a minor issue. Now imagine having to deal with public safety concerning theft (5 visits to the office to get a report for the insurance company). Not ok! I cannot imagine what sexual assault victims are dealing with on campus and I am sure it is causing them distress and difficulties with their studies. And so Thank You to all who are trying to improve Swarthmore College and I especially thank everyone who is fighting against sexual assault, helping victims, helping those struggling with stress and mental issues and those who say it is not ok to urinate on my safe place! (Install camera to record and identify culprit?) Learning at campus is more than “book learning” and I hope this academic year brings a better relationship between groups/ individuals on campus and a safer environment.

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  32. Scott Reply

    October 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    My sister attended Swarthmore for one semester 8 years ago before transferring to a different school. My mom was upset because as a single mother supporting her child to get into a great academic institution, she felt she lost bragging rights as a parent. I remember my sister coming home and telling my mom that the vast majority of students she interacted with at Swarthmore were kids from wealthy families looking for some cause because they didn’t have to worry about the day to day challenges that others had to face in the real world. She also said too many students didn’t worry about what academic disciplines they studied because they had the financial resources to continue on with their education without concern for a return on their investment.

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    • Alum Reply

      October 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Well shit, that andecdotal evidence from a burn-out almost a decade ago is damning indeed.

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