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First Collection

Collections are assembly-style gatherings that begin with a moment of silence in which people “collect” themselves and become fully present.

All of these events are designed both to allow us to meet new people and to connect with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. We hope you will note them on your calendars and plan to attend any that fit your schedule.

Guidelines for Collection

Below is a suggested format for Collection. You may use it as a template and add other components: a speaker, music, a performance, film, etc. The time for Collection is Friday, 12:30 – 1:30 pm. Collection should always begin with a moment of silence. The tone should always be respectful of others’ viewpoints and offerings. There should be some kind of clear ending point. Beyond that, you are free to build your Collection as you wish.

To reserve the Meeting House you can email the meeting secretary at You can also plan a reception following in the Whittier Room, which must be reserved separately. Food can be arranged through Dining Services.

If you would like help planning your Collection, you can meet with Michael Ramberg, Jewish Student Advisor:

Suggested Format

Brief welcome by facilitator. Explain the format for the hour. Sit on facing bench.

Sharing of ground rules for respectful dialogue:

  • Important for safe space
  • Everyone has right to own views and opinions
  • Speak with sensitivity
  • Think before speaking
  • Use  "I" statements
  • No interruptions
  • Listen deeply
  • After one person speaks, there should be a pause before another speaks

Moment of silence (this can last anywhere from one minute to 10, depending on the tone and purpose of the gathering.)

Moderators’ or speakers’  introductions, if any.

Opportunity for people to speak and/or respond. Moderators call on people if necessary; maintain positive environment. Make clear when people are invited to speak whether there is a speaker, or planted quotes. State that people are free to rise and speak at any time.

Ending with a quotation, reading or musical selection is helpful. Then, close with the traditional Quaker practice, in which the facilitators stand and shakes hands to signal the end of collection.

Notes: We are borrowing elements from Quaker tradition in order to create a space. Some see this as an opportunity for spiritual reflection, but it can also be used as a secular activity.

It is important to avoid a tone of debate. This is not a back-and-forth activity. Convey the sense that when a person speaks, it is not necessarily in response to the previous person. There is no sense of winning, or having the last word. Anyone may speak who feels moved to do so.

Any Swarthmore college  individual or group is free to organize a Collection. However, anyone who schedules a Collection should be aware that their event could be pre-empted in the rare occurrence of a campus emergency that would require pulling together an immediate Collection.

Contact staff religious advisors with questions