"We must be willing to enter the fray when the issue is important." Less than a month after taking office in late 1982 as the college's 12th president, David Fraser asked the Board of Managers to respond to the Solomon Amendment, which required schools to withhold federal financial aid from students who failed to register for a draft. Fraser considered the law, scheduled to take effect in July, 1983, unconstitutional and feared it would allow governmental pressures to restrict college enrollments. In February, he testified on the matter before a House subcommittee on education.
At Fraser's instigation, the college became the third in the country to join a Minnesota lawsuit against the amendment, where similar briefs were filed by two schools in the state. Students also presented to the Board a petition signed by more than half the student body that urged the college to support the financial needs of non-registrants. At its next meeting, the Board unanimously voted to replace any funds lost by students who declined to register.
An alumnus of the George School, Haverford College, and Harvard Medical School, Fraser led the federal government's successful search for the cause of Legionnaire's Disease and won national recognition for his work on toxic shock syndrome. In 1991, he left Swarthmore to head the Social Welfare Department at the Aga Khan Secretariat, where he oversaw health, education, and housing activities in Asia and Africa.
"The person who sees liberal arts education as practical looks toward a far broader horizon."