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Update on Today's Activity

May 2, 2019

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I write to update you on the events that occurred in Parrish today.

Earlier today a group of students entered my outer office in Parrish Hall and said that they wanted to deliver a letter to me. Staff members informed the students that I was out of the office and offered to give the letter to me upon my return. The students then sat down and refused to leave. A student who was waiting in the hallway pushed an office staff member out of the way to let others in. I offered by phone to meet with them in person on the condition that they leave my office. They refused my offer and never produced a letter.

At the end of the work day, the Provost, Dean, and others reminded the students that they did not have permission to remain in the President’s office, and if they chose to stay they could leave at any point. The administrators then left the building and locked all remaining doors. Students remained in the outer office and hallway until they independently decided to leave at approximately 8:45 p.m. Let me be clear: students were always free to leave and had access to every public restroom and resource in Parrish except those in the secure area around the President’s office.

I respect and affirm the rights of students to demonstrate peacefully. Due to safety and egress concerns, and to help ensure a smooth resolution to the day’s events, Public Safety responded to a request for support. Unfortunately, a confrontation occurred when a student attempted to open a hallway door to allow more students access to the office. We are thankful that neither the student nor the responding officer was seriously harmed. After this incident took place, Public Safety requested additional support from Swarthmore Borough Police. An inquiry will take place to assess what happened.

Swarthmore Police made every effort to deescalate the situation and at no point felt or expressed the need to exercise further authority. Public Safety does not have the power to make arrests. We are grateful that the students chose to leave on their own.


Valerie Smith