Last Friday, students, faculty, and staff were invited by President Rebecca Chopp and Dean of Students Liz Braun to gather together on lower Parrish Beach to celebrate the start of the new academic year. The picturesque September afternoon was the perfect backdrop to enjoy a picnic lunch and get to know some new faces.
"I think it sets a really good tone for the rest of the year," says Christen Boas Hayes '16, a political science major from Havertown, Pa.
The celebration, put together by Swarthmore's Dining Services and Facilities teams, allowed members of the community to interact with those they may not often encounter. "It's really cool to see our coaches talking to administrators, or professors and coaches talking together," says Emma Madarasz '15, an English literature and philosophy double major from Mendham, N.J. "I think it's a great event for everyone to meet other people."
"This is the first of what I hope will be many occasions for us to gather this year as a community," says Chopp. "Many of us - students, faculty and staff - have expressed the desire to cultivate a greater sense of community - and what better time than now to start?"
Attendees also continued the conversations started at the celebration on social media.
Fun campus picnic. I will challenge myself to discover the cool hidden talents of Swarthmore students. pic.twitter.com/qQ6jTNmcNI— Renee DeVarney (@CoachDeVa) September 13, 2013
"It's really fun to see all the professors and administrators out here. We saw some administrators taking 'selfies' together, it was really cute," says Madarasz.
Rose Pitkin '14, a neuroscience major and gender & sexuality studies minor from West Springfield, Mass., appreciated that while the community must sometimes deal with important and serious issues, it can also convene just to celebrate. "I think it's really important to remember that even though things sometimes are hard," she says, "we also can get together and be happy and enjoy each other's company."
An additional element of was added to this year's celebration, as community members were asked to participate in a "community pledge" project. Attendees took a moment to write down their pledges for the year, beginning with "I promise to..."; "I will challenge myself to..."; or "I want to help with..." The completed pledges will be displayed in Parrish Hall's Shane Lounge.