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1933 Students Protest Denial of Admissions for Black Students

Although the College did not have a policy banning the admittance of Black students, it also did not seek or encourage their enrollment. The rejection of George Arnold, a black West Philadelphia High School graduate who was nominated by his school for a scholarship to attend college but whose application to Swarthmore was denied, generated attention and concern on and off-campus.

In a letter to Carl Murphy, editor of Baltimore’s Afro-American newspaper, President Frank Aydelotte wrote:

“There are certain social difficulties which are peculiar to this college and which make the admission of a Negro student more difficult than would be the case in other institutions. Swarthmore is a coeducational and residential college. The life here is very intimate, and it would consequently be more difficult to make a Negro student comfortable than would be the case in a large institution or in a small one, which was not run on such intimate coeducational lines. And you can readily see that it would not be a solution of the problem to admit Negroes to classes if we were not prepared to make them at home socially.”

According to Dean Everett Hunt:

"After a long discussion, it decided by a large majority that Negro students could not yet be admitted to a coeducational college like Swarthmore. Their admission would raise too many problems and create too many difficulties. There was general satisfaction at the happy solution presented by Dean Speight, just arrived from Dartmouth, when he got the boy accepted there with a large scholarship. A men's college seemed just the place for him..."

Some students noted the hypocrisy of supporting the efforts of the Institute of Race Relations in the summer but not accepting African American students in the fall:

“Speakers come from far and near to preach the gospel of racial good will and the brotherhood of man. The president and many faculty members are pronounced in their belief that all men are created equal. That is what they say. But their actions prove that they are more prejudiced than many other colleges which do admit young Negro students ... a hypocrite can hide behind beautiful expressions for a season; but when the test comes the world realizes that all the time there was only lip service ... [As Quakers] They want to be known as fair and liberal; they desire the public to believe that they are living up to the high standards set by their glorious ancestors, but they lack the nobility of heart.”