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Important Update for Students - Spring 2020

Dear Students,

I am writing to update you on several items related to the spring term, including move-out, the advising period, and a variety of programs and services the Dean’s Division is providing remotely. But, first, I want to share a few thoughts on this current moment in time and its relationship to your Swarthmore education.

Like many of you, I suspect, I have been giving a lot of thought to the events of the last month — travel restrictions, remote learning, stay-at-home orders, etc. And after much consideration, I have reached the following conclusion: This sucks.

This is not at all what spring at Swarthmore is supposed to be about. 

None of us is where we should be right now. Especially not you. You’re supposed to be at Swat. You’re supposed to be smelling lilacs and wandering past cherry blossoms on your way to class or the library or Sharples. You’re supposed to be playing lawn games or sitting in the BIG Chair on Parrish Beach and lining the fences to cheer on your friends at athletic events. There should be dance and music recitals and theater productions and art shows. You should be going to Swat Tank and pARTy and LSE and Worthstock.

You should be on campus, in class, meeting with professors, and spending time with your friends. 

It’s not right. It’s not fair. And I can’t even begin to convey to you how sorry I am that this inconceivable world event has interrupted your college experience in the way that it has. In addition to being a dean, I am also the parent of a college junior who, like you, is suddenly taking classes remotely and trying to muddle through and make the best of a situation nobody wants. As much as I am glad to have this time with my son and as fortunate as I am to know that he is safe and comfortable at home, I’m also heartbroken for him — and for you — to lose these weeks on campus and in class and with friends in this way. 

But as unfair as this situation is, and as sorry I am for all the things that are absent from this spring semester for you, I find that what strikes me most about this moment is how it shines a light on how incredibly important your Swarthmore education is. It’s hard to conceive of a set of circumstances that better illustrate how much reason and critical thinking and science and wisdom matter. Or the importance of clear, effective communication, truth-telling, and understanding our shared humanity grounded by, as Swarthmore’s mission states, “a deep sense of ethical and social concern.”

If there was ever a moment to pause and make the connections between what you are doing as Swarthmore students and the challenges facing an uncertain and rapidly changing world, this is it. Make no mistake, it is scientists who will lead us out of this crisis. Researchers and doctors will develop treatments and vaccines. Engineers will create better medical devices and delivery systems. Mathematicians and social scientists and computer scientists and economists will all contribute to our understanding of the problems we face and to identifying a range of ways we can go about solving them. To say nothing of how political scientists and historians and philosophers will help us sharpen our thinking and make sense of how our leaders and institutions responded to this crisis so that we will be better prepared in the future. And we will do it all across cultures and in every language on the planet. 

And this moment is also about so much more than addressing the most obvious challenges we face. The COVID-19 pandemic urges us to confront the larger questions about what it means to be human and to live in community with others. Amid all the fear and uncertainty that seem to come in waves, we are continually reminded that beauty, joy, laughter, and love are ever present and need not only to be acknowledged but celebrated every day. Art and music and literature are just as vital to our capacity to endure and to thrive at this time as science and math and engineering.

This will not be the last time your generation is faced with incredible challenges. There will be other moments of global unrest — the climate crisis, war, famine, natural disasters, and economic upheaval — and you and your peers will be critical to solving the problems and leading your families and communities and the world out of the mess to an even larger degree than you are now.

So as you login to your next Zoom class and work to muster the motivation to do the reading or write the paper or lab assignment, I urge you to remember that what you are doing now is hugely consequential. This is not merely some esoteric exercise or the tedious means to a symbolic end. What you are doing now is paving the way forward for all of us. And while you have every right to be angry, sad, and even resentful, I hope you can also find strength and inspiration in your studies over these next few weeks. You matter. Your work matters. And what you do now and going forward will shape and influence the future of the world.

That’s all for now. Please know that all of you and your families and friends are very much in my thoughts each day. Be well. Take care. And stay safe.


Jim Terhune, Vice President and Dean of Students


Spring Move-Out
At this time, we are not able to process additional reservations for move-out. We anticipate that students will be able to reserve move-out dates as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted and the College can safely support move-out operations. This will be no earlier than May 1, 2020 and the order may be extended past this time. Please do not make any travel plans until you receive an official confirmation from the College that you have been approved to return for move-out.

The College is considering a number of options to help students safely collect their items and/or store them for the summer. We are exploring a wide range of possible approaches and will keep the student body updated with more definite plans once we know more about the timeline of the stay-at-home order being lifted.

Summer Programs
Late yesterday (Tuesday), President Smith shared an update with faculty and staff that included the following information on summer programming: 

Summer programming is currently being evaluated while we determine what is possible to do in-person or virtually. While funding for summer programming is secure, we do not yet have a sense of when it will be safe or feasible to invite people to campus. We plan to make decisions about our various summer programs between April 15 and May 1, and will try to preserve as many opportunities as possible, even if some have to be conducted remotely.

We recognize that summer experiences are critically important to our students’ academic programs. We want to assure any student who has been awarded summer funding that the College has no plans of rescinding this funding and is seeking safe ways for students to be able to pursue projects this summer. Our top priorities at this time are to ensure the safety of our community while continuing to provide the highest quality of academic programs possible. Recognizing the wide range of summer experiences and related circumstances — such as travel, work with external organizations, lab research, and internships, and so forth — we realize that many of these plans may need to be reimagined under the current circumstances. We also recognize that some projects may no longer be feasible and/or may need to be postponed. For those students who have received an offer of summer funding, the department, center, or faculty sponsoring your experience will work directly with you in the coming weeks to develop a plan.

Summer Housing
The College is not currently accepting applications for Summer 2020 housing. The Office of Student Engagement is working closely with campus partners, including the Provost’s Office, the Lang Center, Career Services, and Auxiliary Services to discuss options for students participating in summer projects or research. More information about summer housing availability will be shared no later than May 1, 2020. 

Fall Housing Lottery
The Fall Housing Lottery will be postponed until after spring move-out. All room selection will take place remotely and students should expect to receive additional information about Fall housing options after May 25th, 2020.

Grading Policy 
Because grading policy is determined by the faculty, it was discussed at the faculty meeting on Friday, April 3rd. Provost Willie-LeBreton is in ongoing dialogue with the faculty committees responsible for deciding the way forward.

Disability Support Services 
Jenna Rose, Assistant Director of Student Disability Services, has accepted a new position at another institution and left the College as of March 20. We are sorry to see Jenna leave us but wish her all the best in her new role. 

Director Monica Vance is now the point of contact for all students registered with the Office and for those with new inquiries. If you have questions about your approved disability accommodations, or if you want to request accommodations for a new or previously diagnosed disability or chronic health condition, please contact Monica Vance ( Students who previously requested housing disability accommodations for the upcoming year will receive notification about their requests from SDS in the coming weeks. 

All students who lived in College-owned housing before the remote learning period will be counted by the College in the 2020 Census. Students will receive additional information about how to verify your information via myswarthmore in the next two weeks. 

Senior Class Officers and SGO met last week with members of the President’s Office, Dean’s Division, and the Commencement Committee to begin the discussions about Commencement for the Class of 2020. The College is committed to holding an on-campus Commencement for the Class of 2020 at some point in the future when it is both safe and feasible to do so. Additionally, Swarthmore will honor the senior class through a remote ceremony this spring. The Senior Class Officers sent a survey to the Class of 2020 to explore student’s preference regarding various different Commencement celebration options, and the results were discussed by the Commencement Committee on Friday. Given the continued impact and unpredictability of the ongoing effects of COVID-19, it is too early to provide any specific details regarding Commencement 2020. We hope to be able to provide additional information in the coming weeks. 

Student Health and Wellness 
The Health Center continues to be closed for in person appointments.  The staff is committed to monitoring email and are working on travel health documents for students planning travel during the fall semester. If you are having an urgent health care need, please call the on-call registered nurse at 610-328-8548. If you are having an emergency, call Public Safety at 610-328-8333 or dial 911. If you have a non-urgentroutine question, please email and a Worth Health Center staff member will get back to you within 48-72 hours. Please refrain from leaving voicemails, as they will not be checked regularly. The Health Center website has an updated list of local resources. 

CAPS continues to offer confidential mental health consultations on two platforms:
1. CAPS On-Call. Available 24 hours/day, every day at 610-328-7768.
2. Zoom based individual consultations. Until 5/1/2020 submit requests here

Student Deans 
Student deans are available by email or video conference for consultation and academic support. You can find your assigned dean’s name in the “degree audit” section in mySwarthmore. We stand ready to be your sounding board and connect you to resources that might be helpful to you.

Student Academic Mentors
The Student Academic Mentors will be conducting Zoom Drop-In hours. For a schedule of Drop-In hours visit the SAM webpage and look for weekly email announcements. If you would like help connecting with a SAM reach out to Melissa Mandos (

Fellowships and Prizes
The Office of Fellowships and Prizes will be conducting remote information sessions throughout April. The sessions will be announced by email and posted on the F&P webpage. To set up a remote meeting, contact the Fellowships and Prizes Advisor Melissa Mandos (

Registrar’s Office
Advising for Fall 2020 course selection starts on Monday, April 13. Please discuss your plans with your advisor. Pre-registration goes from April 27-29. For more information, see: Mid-semester Advising and Pre-Registration.

Celebrating Black Excellence
This Friday at 4 p.m., educator Sonya Douglass Horsford will consider the limitations of school integration efforts in a zoom lecture originally planned as the keynote for the Black Education in the 21st Century symposium. The BCC student interns will highlight the history of the House through an online exhibit of historical artifacts and photography; more information will be shared when it is available.

The Intercultural Center has embraced the opportunity to reimagine how we connect and engage our students and the community. In the coming weeks, students can look forward to receiving invites to virtual events, IC staff will hold office hours online and we have plans to host our end-of-year celebrations virtually. We are excited about the ways that we will continue to support student's remote co-curricular experience in the days ahead.

International Students

  • We have shifted to remote and virtual online services and support until further notice. 
  • We have added a COVID-19 information tab on the ISC web page.
    We continue to support and advocate for International students during this crisis. 
  • We can assist students to make sure they get the appropriate support if anyone is experiencing Xenophobia or other forms of intolerance
  • The InterCenter (IC, IF, ISC) is holding a virtual gathering called: Stay Interconnected with the InterCenter on April 13.
  • We are working on issuing i-20's for the class of 2024 for international students
  • We have been emailing students with updates, changes and alerts related to immigration regulations and visa concerns.
  • We are assisting with work permits, travel signatures, and STEM extensions.  
  • Remote individual and group meetings for Curricular Practical Trainings (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Career Services
Here's how to connect with Career Services: