Swarthmore Community Gathers on Campus to Give Thanks

As the air grew crisper and leaves began falling at an accelerated rate, the Swarthmore community's annual Thanksgiving traditions kicked off in earnest, bringing students together with faculty and staff to express their gratitude for one another.

Swarthmore’s Thanksgiving festivities began Sunday afternoon with a celebration hosted by Public Safety and the Office of Student Engagement for Resident Assistants (RAs) and Diversity Peer Advisors (DPAs). Everyone who came to ate turkey, potatoes, and pie while answering trivia questions for a game of Quizzo.

“It’s just a thank you,” says Mary Lou Lawless, administrative assistant in Public Safety, who helps organize the event each year. “We all work hand in hand and really enjoy getting to know the RAs and DPAs.”

The students bonded with staff as they chatted about their Thanksgiving plans.

“It’s really nice that they do this for us,” says Daniel Banko-Ferran ‘17, an Honors economics major from Swarthmore, Pa., and a Mertz RA, who attended the event for a second year.

Thanksgiving is an important event for many of the cultural groups on Swarthmore’s campus as well. The Swarthmore African American Student Society, the Swarthmore African Student Association, and the Students of Caribbean Ancestry held a Thanksgiving dinner at the Black Cultural Center (BCC) on Sunday. More than 100 students of all backgrounds came to this longstanding event to enjoy traditional African, African-American, and Afro-Caribbean dishes including yams, collard greens, string beans, fried chicken, cornbread, jollof rice, and plantains.

“The dinner provides a warm, communal environment for black students and the wider Swarthmore Community,” says Anise Charles ‘17, an economics major from New York, N.Y. “It's an opportunity for Swarthmore students to enjoy a meal and an experience in a space that many black students call their home.”

Sharples Dining Hall will remain open over Thanksgiving break to serve students who plan to remain on campus, as it has for the last 25 years. On Thanksgiving Day, dining staff members will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal, including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and vegetables as well as cider, a variety of pies, and options for vegetarian and vegan students.

Tables in Sharples will be decorated on Thursday evening with vases of flowers and dinner music for a cozy atmosphere.

“The same dedicated staff has worked this meal for over 15 years,” says Linda McDougall, director of Dining Services, noting that Swarthmore is one of very few colleges in the area whose dining hall remains open on Thanksgiving. “We like to make Thanksgiving at Sharples special for the students who live too far away to go home.”

While courses ramp up in preparation for finals, Swarthmore students are still working hard. But as they take a well-deserved break — whether they head home, spend the holiday with friends, or stay on campus — they have a lot to be thankful for.