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Upholding The Garnet Pledge by Jim Terhune, Vice President for Student Affairs and Tomoko Sakomura, Dean of Students

Dear Fall 2020 Residential Students,

We want to begin by thanking you for the extraordinary steps you are taking to keep one another — and our faculty, staff, and neighbors — safe. When we walk campus, especially around dinnertime, we are struck by how careful you are being about distancing and wearing masks.

As we’ve shared in the past, we are in the midst of an experiment. Never before have we had to put in place the measures and expectations detailed in the Garnet Pledge for Students to help keep our campus community safe. The success of this experiment depends on the sacrifices each of us makes. On putting others before ourselves. On giving up “normal” ways of interacting in order to have an on-campus experience. We know how challenging this is and how different life on campus is from what we all hoped and expected it would be. But we know too that the opportunity to be here together — even with the necessary restrictions — has real meaning and value. So, we are doing everything we can to protect this experience for you, even as we see other schools move to fully remote experiences due to outbreaks of COVID-19. 

While the majority of students are adhering to the Garnet Pledge, unfortunately, some have not. As part of our commitment to those of you who are doing your part, we must hold others accountable when they violate this pact. While we recognize that we all make mistakes — perhaps forgetting to wear our masks, etc. — behavior such as hosting and attending parties or taking inessential trips to vacation hotspots or major cities demonstrates a clear disregard not only for the values behind the Garnet Pledge, but for the College’s mission to serve the common good. We were pleased to learn through our conversations that the majority of the students who were in violation of the Pledge, upon reflection, recognized and were remorseful for their decisions; nevertheless, such behavior threatens the health and safety of everyone in our community and cannot be tolerated or excused.

Over the last two days, 11 students were found to have committed serious violations of the Garnet Pledge. As such, we have revoked permission for them to live on campus; these individuals have been informed they must arrange to leave campus in the coming days. They are able to complete the semester remotely.

We appreciate that these are challenging times, and none of us wanted to find ourselves in this situation, especially so early in the semester. But we’ve seen elsewhere how just a few cases of egregious behavior can open the door for COVID-19 to spread and force a campus to move to an entirely remote experience. 

On a separate but related note, it has been brought to our attention that an increasing number of students are not completing the required daily symptom tracker. Symptom tracking is an important tool in our efforts to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 on campus, which is why you are required to submit the information every day; it is listed in the Garnet Pledge as a condition of being able to live on campus this fall. Repeated failure to meet this requirement could result in forfeiting your right to stay on campus. If you have questions about symptom tracking, please email Director of Student Health and Wellness Casey Anderson at canders4@swarthmore.edu.

We want to echo what we said at the start of this note — it is encouraging to see the vast majority of students doing their part to help keep the campus safe. In fact, every one of the violations referenced above was brought to our attention by concerned students who spoke up to address behaviors they believed put our community at risk. We know how difficult speaking up in such situations can be, and we are profoundly grateful to those who displayed such courage and care for themselves and others. We implore all of you to continue to exhibit that same level of care and embrace the importance of living fully into the spirit of the Pledge. 

Again, thank you for your commitment to keeping campus safe.

Sincerely,

Jim Terhune
Vice President for Student Affairs

Tomoko Sakomura
Dean of Students