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As Customs Folks, We’re Going on Strike. Here’s Why.

Editor’s note: All opinion pieces published in The Clerk represent the views and ideas of the authors.

To President Raymond and the Haverford Administration,

Following President Raymond and Dean Bylander’s email on October 28th, it has once again been made abundantly clear that Haverford College is an institution that values profit and maintenance of the status quo over the protection and well-being of its Black, Indigenous, people of color, first-generation, and low-income students. As the undersigned Customs Folks and thereby the enforcers of administrative policies, we find ourselves in roles which further the ends of this institution. Through this letter, we stand in solidarity with all those participating in the strike and make our support and involvement abundantly clear.

Customs Structure and BIPOC Student Labor

BIPOC students and the Student Workers Organizing League (SWOL) worked diligently over many years to transition the Customs program to a paid model. This move was intended to make Customs more accessible to FGLI students who did not have the resources to volunteer the huge amount of time and energy required to be a part of the program. However, compensation has been woefully inadequate, and the shift from an unpaid model to an underpaid one has resulted in a new structure for the Customs team. More specifically, the administration’s decision to halve the size of the Customs team included the elimination of the Ambassador of Multicultural Awareness (AMA). The role of the AMA—culturally engaging and challenging First-Years to examine and reflect on their own experiences—has not been adequately absorbed and embodied through Pre-Customs training for the role of Customs Community Facilitator (CCF). As a result, BIPOC Customs team members have continued to disproportionately bear the burden of multicultural education. We strike in solidarity with these students, and emphasize the need for the college to recognize and properly compensate them for their labor.

How Our Roles Will Change During the Strike

Throughout the duration of this strike, we will be disengaging from the institutional work associated with our respective roles. We will not enforce the administration’s rules. We will no longer serve as representatives of the administration within our first-year halls, nor will we encourage our first-years to break the strike. However, we will continue to log our hours, and those of us who are able will donate our wages to the strike fund and groups on the ground in Philadelphia.

We will engage with our first-years as friends and community members, but not as employees of the college. We will, to the best of our ability, ensure that their physical and mental health needs are met (including promoting COVID safety), just as we would with any other Haverford community member. We do this for the very same reason that we are striking: because we care about the well-being of our peers, and we want to build a better institution that can truly meet their needs. By educating and facilitating discussions with the first-years about the strike, we are supporting the strike—not breaking it. Rather than using our roles to serve the ends of the administration, we will instead be using our positions as facilitators and educators for our first-years in order to bridge their understanding of the need for institutional change, and to provide them with the resources that will help them participate in the strike in healthy and productive ways.

Statement of Solidarity

We stand with the organizers of the strike (Women of Color House, Black Students Refusing Further Inaction, Black Students’ League, and every single BIPOC student this institution has failed) and will participate in the strike until the demands are concretely met. We cannot, in good conscience, do anything else while our peers, first-years, friends, and fellow Customs Folks are disregarded and devalued by the administration. The principles we agreed to by taking this job are in direct opposition to those displayed by the college’s response to the needs of its students. The administration has failed to prioritize the construction and maintenance of a strong community, appreciation for different experiences, and the safety of every student we come in contact with. We, in support of the BIPOC organizers, demand that the administration hear, value, and commit to the demands of the strike in a timely fashion. This will define the community that our first-years will come to know for the rest of their time here at Haverford, and we are unequivocally committed to its betterment. 


Hikaru Jitsukawa ’23 (CCF)
Lisette Pham ’23 (UCA)
John Collins ’23 (CP)
Ellie Kerns ’22 (CCF)
Caroline Ford ’21 (UCA)
Sally Pearson ’21 (CCF)
Sophia Honigfeld ’23 (CP)
Janani Suresh ’23 (CP)
Jared Sloan ’23 (CP)
Eva White ’23 (UCA)
Adrian Velonis ’22 (UCA)
Lía Hermosillo Rojas ’22 (Customs Co-Head) 
Maxwell Cox ’23 (CP)
Maxwell Mondress ’23 (CP)
Liana Wilson-Graff ’23 (CCF)
Caroline Young ’23 (CCF)
Daniela Moreira ’23 (CCF)
Natalia Barber ’23 (CCF)
Poppy Northing ’22 (UCA)
Amolina Bhat ’23 (CCF)
Taylor Kingsland ’23 (CCF)
Erin Martin ’23 (CP)
Kagan Harris ’21 (UCA)
Steve Lee ’21 (UCA)
Rebecca Koweek ’22 (UCA)
Maya Gong ’23 (CP)
Sophia Kaplan ’23 (CCF)
Anubhav Sharma ’23 (UCA)
Ryan Totaro ’22 (UCA)
Jack Weinstein ’23 (CCF)
Kaila Uyeda ’23 (CP)
April Zeng ’23 (UCA)
Edna Creelman ’23 (CP)
Kayla Baquiran ’23 (CP)
Theodore Smith ’23 (UCA)
Tien Vu ’23 (CCF)
Johnluca Fenton ’21 (UCA)
Rachel Schiffer ’23 (CCF)
Sydney Cummings ’23 (UCA)
Hannah Chayet ’23 (CCF)
Madeline Webster ’23 (CCF)
Blythe McWhirter ’23 (CP)
Alvaro Aguilar ’23 (CP)
John Dvorak ’23 (CP)
Aidan Hutchinson ’23 (CP)
Nicole Haas-Loomis ’21 (CP Co-Head)
Kristen Min ’23 (UCA) 
Sharon Williams ’23 (UCA) 
Sam Aronson ’22 (CP Co-Head)
Avi Patel ’23 (UCA)
Ana Bernal ’23 (UCA) 
Keishla Sanchez ’22 (UCA) 
Mia Reyes ’22 (CCF)
Robbie Spratt ’21 (CCF)
Dex Coen Gilbert ’21 (Customs Committee)
Natasha Bansal ’23 (CCF)

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