Recent spate of bigotry warrants all-campus collection

In light of the several instances of hate-speech that recently transpired on campus, the Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC) has decided to host a Collection tomorrow. The event is intended to open dialogue between members of Swarthmore’s community about the incidents and tentative steps towards a safer and more welcome campus environment.

The hate speech was manifested through homophobic remarks directed towards students at a Swarthmore Queer Union party, the waving of a Confederate flag at Pub Nite and the spray-painting of homophobic slurs on David Kemp Hall.

The various episodes, which were reported to the student body through several emails, came about in the span of approximately a month. While they were unrelated to one another, their proximity has justly raised concerns and desires to address the issues in a more proactive way, according to Dean Liz Braun.

“The Council felt that a Collection could provide a powerful and relatively quick way to bring members of the community together for dialogue, sharing of ideas and concerns and brainstorming for further action,” Dean Braun said in an e-mail. “Swarthmore is a reflection of our broader society and while we consistently strive to be better, we do need to continue to think about dealing with these issues in a way that addresses both the immediate concerns and lifts up the deeper systemic issues.”

Campus Life Representative Ali Roseberry-Polier ’14, who sits in on DAC, was one of the people who came up with the idea of a Collection. The council saw enough frustration among Swarthmore community members to decide that there needed to be an open forum for an exchange of ideas and sentiments.

“We want the discussion to be as open as possible, and be dictated by what students want to talk about. There will be a few of us facilitating, but there is not a very strict plan for what the conversation will look like,” Roseberry-Polier said.

Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) president Ian Perkins-Taylor ’13 says that the group has been appalled by the string of incidents.

However, instead of getting “bogged down” by the upsetting nature of these, the group is trying to imagine ways in which the campus can move forward to change its culture.

“The collection is a starting point … It’s not a concrete step towards actually changing the culture, but it seems like an important moment for people to come together as a group to say that this is not what we want our community to be,” Perkins-Taylor said.

According to Braun, there have already been many ideas generated to help the community fight against hate, harassment, and prejudice.

“These include everything from ongoing workshops for students, a public art project, working on initiatives for improving town-gown relationships, bystander training and improving our communication protocols,” she said. “DAC hopes that the Collection will be another opportunity to brainstorm ideas and then we hope to come up with an action plan for moving forward on implementing many of these ideas.”

The Collection will allow any and every member in the community to voice and make known their opinions for further contemplation.

The idea of “re-imagining Collection” was brought up by students, faculty and staff alike during the strategic planning process, and DAC has been considering how to move forward with it, according to Braun.

The Collection will take place in the Friends Meetinghouse at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow.

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