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Regarding Student Government Resolution

March 12, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

You have likely seen that the Student Government Organization recently passed a resolution supporting Swarthmore Students for Justice in Palestine’s call for the College to divest from specific companies. SGO also expressed its desire for the Board of Managers to change its investment policy.

Although I recognize it is Spring Break, I want to address two items related to these discussions in a timely manner.

The first is the College's investment policy, which has been the topic of substantial campus conversation for much of the past decade. The policy states that we have a responsibility to manage the endowment to yield the best long-term financial results in order to fulfill Swarthmore’s educational mission, rather than to pursue other social objectives. The Board has consistently reaffirmed this policy and communicated frequently with the campus community, including as recently as 2018, after considerable engagement and deliberation.

Swarthmore relies on our strong endowment for more than half of our operating revenue; it subsidizes a significant portion of the costs of educating every student and allows us to provide the robust financial aid that brings to Swarthmore students of all backgrounds. We are also fortunate for the generations of alumni who have donated to the College and for the careful stewardship of those gifts that has built our endowment over the years.

Second, there is no question that conversations around Israel and Palestine are polarizing and difficult. As I have stated previously, when issues of religious identity, historical injustice, and present-day human rights concerns are involved, the real-life stakes are high.

As an intellectual community, we have a special obligation to welcome these and other difficult conversations. We must do so in ways that respect the dignity of all members of our community.

If you experience or witness threats or behavior that violates our principles and policies, please report your concerns online or in person to any member of the Dean’s Division. We remain committed to providing a safe community and will investigate every concern that is called to our attention.


Valerie Smith