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Update on Student Encampment

Dear Swarthmore Community Members, 

For more than three weeks, students have maintained an encampment on Parrish Lawn by Clothier Hall in protest of issues related to the war in the Middle East. 

Since the encampment began, we looked for ways to engage with the students and bring the protest to a peaceful conclusion. Throughout the past week, we’ve met several times with encampment organizers and faculty members they invited to participate in the conversations. During the many hours of discussion, we covered a variety of topics associated with the issues they’ve raised.

While the discussions were often difficult, we felt we were making progress. Unfortunately, during a meeting late Wednesday afternoon, it became clear that we had reached an impasse. 

That, in and of itself, is disappointing. We recognize that negotiations sometimes don’t play out as one hopes; sometimes we cannot reach mutual agreement. However, the behavior exhibited as the talks broke down is deeply upsetting. The group became confrontational before walking out of the room. During that time, dozens of other students surrounded the Intercultural Center exits, creating a threatening, intimidating environment, especially for those of us who felt trapped inside. Yesterday’s actions were another escalation of activism on campus and went beyond a reasonable definition of peaceful protest. They also undermine what it means to share a community that seeks to foster empathy, grace, and mutual respect.

With our talks suspended and the academic year coming to a close in the next few days, it is time for the students to voluntarily remove the encampment from Parrish Lawn. In the coming days, we will follow our normal end-of-the-year protocols of closing residence halls, dining facilities, and access to some campus buildings for most students, with the exception of graduating seniors and those with approved reasons to remain on campus.

We know many of you have questions about Commencement. Commencement will take place on Sunday, May 26. Considering the status of the encampment on Parrish Lawn, and given the enormous logistical challenge of planning such a large event, we have had to make the decision to change the location of the celebration. We will provide additional details in the days ahead as soon as plans are finalized. We are confident that, regardless of where Commencement is held, it will be a joyous celebration of our graduating seniors and their extraordinary accomplishments.  


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