Skip to main content

Thanksgiving at Swarthmore


Public Safety hosted a Thanksgiving meal for the RAs, "who give so much of their time and energy to their residents,” says Associate Director Elizabeth Pitts.

The Swarthmore College community is marking the Thanksgiving holiday with a series of traditions, some new and some old, all in an effort to make students feel at home over the holiday.

Many of the College’s Thanksgiving celebrations began last week, including the Public Safety’s second annual RA Thanksgiving. The dinner – which was the brainchild of Corporal Rob Warren in 2013 – was attended by approximately 25 resident assistants and 12 members of the Public Safety staff, including Director Mike Hill and Associate Director for Operations Sam Smemo. Held in Bond Memorial Hall, the feast featured traditional foods such as turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, and even included a screening of Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.

“We really want to show our appreciation to the RAs, who give so much of their time and energy to their residents,” says Elizabeth Pitts, Public Safety’s associate director for investigations who helped organize the event. “Our Adopt-a-Dorm officers look for ways to get to know their RAs and this holiday seems to be a perfect opportunity to bring Public Safety and the RAs together for a relaxing meal with friends.”

While most students leave campus for the Thanksgiving holiday, many stay at Swarthmore for a variety of reasons. For those students, members of the College and Borough community do their best to make them feel at home.

For the 23rd consecutive year, Dining Services plans to serve Thanksgiving dinner in Sharples Dining Hall to students staying on campus. Director of Dining Services Linda McDougall estimates that between 125 and 150 students will be in attendance for the dinner, which will include all of the traditional fixings (including a tofurkey for those with a vegan diet), servings of hot apple cider, and specially decorated tables.

“We try to make it very special for those who have to stay on campus,” says McDougall, who notes that Swarthmore is one of only a very few colleges in the area that remains open on Thanksgiving.

Beyond Sharples, a group of Swarthmore students will be spending the holiday with a local family that opened its doors to a group of international students who may have never experienced a traditional American Thanksgiving.

Three students will be spending the holiday with the Meeker family, residents of Swarthmore Borough who contacted International Student Advisor Jennifer Marks-Gold about the possibility of hosting students for the holiday.

“What better way to spend the day than to share it with friends and neighbors, as well as with Swarthmore College students who may be unable to go home,” says family member Christine Polito, who reached out to Marks-Gold.

Despite the promise of delicious food, Polito jokingly warns that the students may be in for more than they bargained for.

“With the combination of adults, seniors, three college students, our own high school and middle school kiddos, a beautiful Pyrenees dog, and two adorable cats, it promises to be a full and festive day,” says Polito. “Most importantly, we're grateful to share it.” 

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing