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Swarthmore College

Parrish Hall

To the Editor

Swarthmore College is deeply committed to ensuring a safe environment free from sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. As the country and its colleges and universities become more effective at addressing abuse, we know that we have not always handled these situations in the way we would handle them today.

Our commitment now, and in the future, is to create and foster a learning and living environment that is free of sexual assault, discrimination, and harassment of any kind.

Following an extensive national search, we have just announced the hiring of our new Title IX Coordinator, Kaaren Williamsen. She brings exceptional experience and expertise in providing survivors with the sensitive support they need; community members with the education and training they need; and all students with a fair and just adjudication process.

Building upon past efforts, within the past year, we have taken extraordinary measures, including:

  • Creating a full team of professionals dedicated to providing support for every individual involved in sexual assault cases and bolstering our prevention and education efforts;
  • Completely revamping our policies and procedures regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment; and
  • Implementing a comprehensive training program for the entire campus community. We have held more than 70 training sessions in addition to dozens of information sessions. For a campus community of roughly 2,000 people, we can honestly say that every segment of campus has been reached by these sustained and ongoing efforts.

At Swarthmore, our top priority and abiding concern is that our students thrive physically, emotionally, and intellectually so that they may fully participate in the world-class education we provide. We are committed to these new efforts and more that will be forthcoming. Our President is committed to this; our Board is committed to this; and so is our entire community.


Nancy Nicely,
Secretary of the College

Swarthmore College Title IX and Clery Act Assessment

For your information, following is an excerpt, and then the entirety, of the evaluation of Swarthmore's sexual assault and harassment policies and procedures, by outside reviewer Margolis Healy and Associates. Swarthmore commissioned this comprehensive review last spring, in order to assure we embrace every best practice available.

To date, we have completed or are addressing every single recommendation Margolis Healy made in their final report, submitted in January 2014.

Since you retained us in April 2013 to review your policies and procedures, and continuing to the present, the College has taken numerous significant steps to address the recommendations in our Summer 2013 report and further enhance its prevention-based initiatives and response to reports of sexual assault and harassment. We applaud these efforts and the commitment of the entire Swarthmore College community -- students, faculty, and staff -- to improve the culture and tackle these issues head-on. To be sure, the issue of higher education’s response to sexual misconduct is not isolated to Swarthmore College. Over the past several years, colleges and universities have faced unprecedented attention regarding the institutional response to sexual assaults on campus – from their own students, the public, the courts, and the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice. As Title IX, Clery, and the Campus SaVE Act have become a daily topic of conversation on many campuses, many institutions have worked diligently to ensure their polices and practices meet the guidance in the April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, evolving insights from Resolution Agreements between the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and institutions under review, and best and promising practices in preventing and responding to incidents of sexual misconduct. We believe that community expectations are rightfully high that Swarthmore College will be a leader in these areas. More [pdf]

Our Purpose at 150 Years

"'Let your life speak' has been a much beloved phrase on Swarthmore's campus over the years. In this, our sesquicentennial year, it describes so well the testimonies of our alumni who are using their education to improve the world, to work for a more just and humane society, and to make the ways of the world more moral, more right, more good.
     "Today, cultural attitudes and practices are changing rapidly around everything from technology to finances to globalization. Swarthmore is boldly and thoroughly seeking to cultivate a 21st-century campus culture where every student is respected and safe, is expected to take responsibility for his or her actions, and is free to concentrate on attaining a superb education in order to improve the world.
     "This quest for intellectual independence, for rigor and creativity, and for integration of breadth and depth is our purpose, our tradition, and our future."
                                  - President Rebecca Chopp
Rebecca Chopp

My Swarthmore, in 150 Words or Less

For Swarthmore's sesquicentennial, alumni from the '30s to the '13s speak about the significance of the College in their lives. Says one: "Swarthmore nurtured a sense of unshakeable purpose at the heart of my personal life and my professional aspirations." 


Hear from some of the people directly engaged in this important work.