By SWOL Student Leaders
[Editor’s note: All opinions pieces published in the Clerk represent only the views and ideas of the author. ]
Content Warning: This article contains reference to sexual violence, sexism, racism, and homophobia.
Dear President Benston,
In light of ongoing news and events surrounding the violence and toxicity of Swarthmore’s Phi Psi Fraternity and Greek life as a whole, student activists in the tri-college community have called for action from their administrations. We would like to make it clear that neither Haverford’s physical separation from Swarthmore nor its lack of greek life can absolve us from a responsibility to take a stance against this violence. As students within the tri-co, we have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with our peers at Swarthmore because the same types of bigotry, misogyny, and sexual assault affect us here. Further, the violence perpetrated by these fraternities is not isolated to Swarthmore, and the close connection between our three schools means that this violence is often enacted on students from Haverford and Bryn Mawr. The release of shocking fraternity documents is not so much a revelation as it is a wake-up call.
We know and experience the sexual violence, racism, and homophobia that occurs in our communities every day, and now call on you to acknowledge it. Specifically, Haverford must take steps towards prioritizing the safety of survivors and marginalized groups in the tri-college community. While the documents leaked to Voices are graphic, this culture exists beyond the doors of Phi Psi, and beyond the walls of Swarthmore college. Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and colleges across the country are living through violence and bigotry with radio silence from those who should be taking charge and inaction from those who have been forced to. While we applaud and stand with student activists at Swarthmore, it is also necessary to address the labor that these students are undertaking on an issue that should have long been addressed by their leaders. While students across the tri-college community are constantly pushed towards student agency as the mechanism for change, the colleges have consistently demonstrated that student agency only extends as far as their own agenda allows it to. It’s time to recognize that student agency extends beyond traditional and ineffective administrative committees, and the condemnation of these student protests represents a clear and shameful contradiction of the beliefs that the colleges were founded on.
We call on you, President Benston, to break Haverford’s silence. To condemn the allocation of community spaces to harmful organizations, the continued use of committees as tools to prevent meaningful change, and the prioritization of historically and objectively violent fraternities over care for survivors. To call for the dissolution of these toxic organizations, look closer at the spaces on Haverford’s campus where this type of violence is enacted, and prioritize survivors first and foremost. Your inaction is harmful and your silence is deafening.
Concerned Students of Haverford