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Protest Activity on Campus

Dear Swarthmore Community Members, 

Yesterday afternoon, a group of students led by Swarthmore’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Swarthmore Palestine Coalition erected several tents on Parrish Beach by Clothier Hall. The protest comes amid the ongoing, unthinkable pain and suffering so many are experiencing in the Middle East. We continue to hold in the light all of those suffering through this horrific situation.

Similar acts of activism are playing out at colleges and universities across the country, leading to rising tensions on many campuses. That reality may be exacerbated by the fact that these national protests come at the start of Passover and as antisemitism across the country and around the world is on the rise. We fully condemn antisemitism, just as we do Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, and all forms of discrimination.

Throughout the war, members of our community have acted out in protest. We have reiterated time and again that Swarthmore is deeply committed to freedom of expression, including the freedom to protest and dissent peacefully. Our ability to understand and engage with diverse views is critical to Swarthmore’s educational experience.

We have also been consistent in our commitment to building and maintaining a culture of accountability and informing members of the community that those who violate College policy will be held responsible for their actions. The encampment on Parrish is deeply concerning and will be included in our ongoing investigations into possible policy violations related to activism throughout the past several months.

We will work with the student organizers of this latest act of protest to try to bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion, but this may take some time to resolve. In the meantime, we expect that students and their allies will protest peacefully and be mindful of how their actions might affect other members of our community.

We also recognize that, until we bring this protest to a conclusion, it may cause some students, faculty, and staff members to feel uncomfortable or even intimidated. The College has a number of resources to help support campus community members through challenging times such as these. Students may reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services or the Interfaith Center. The student deans in the Division of Student Affairs are also available to assist in a variety of ways. Faculty and staff members have access to support through our employee assistance program, Carebridge, which is secure and confidential.

Many of you may also have trusted peers, mentors, or others in the community with whom you feel comfortable turning to during difficult times. We encourage you to do so as you navigate your feelings around these and related issues.

In addition, we urge anyone who feels they’ve witnessed or are the victim of bias to immediately report the incident to the College’s Bias Response Team.

Of course, our primary concern is for the well-being of our students, faculty, and staff members. Given the circumstances, including the encampment’s potential to attract attention beyond campus, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the safety of our community, including by increasing Public Safety’s presence on campus. We know this may draw some criticism, but we take this action in the best interest of our entire community.

This is a challenging moment, but Swarthmore is at its best when we engage with the richly diverse views and lived experiences across campus while exercising mutual respect, empathy, and compassion for one another. Let us all embrace these values as we move through this difficult time together. 


Tomoko Sakomura
Acting Co-President
Provost and Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Art History

Rob Goldberg
Acting Co-President
Vice President for Finance and Administration