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Create a Community Prepared for Life in a Multiracial, Multicultural Democracy and the World

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Jump to section: Prioritize the continued development of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive communityAdopt the “Swarthmore Promise" | Prioritize community health and well-being | Articulate the core values that define the Swarthmore community

The College is committed to respecting diverse identities and experiences, including those shaped by race, gender, sexuality, religion, ability, and national origin, among others; helping community members understand changing political, economic, and social dynamics; and fostering an ethos of collaborative self-examination. In President Smith’s inauguration speech, she spoke about the transformative power of engaging across our differences:

“Our ability to discover and communicate new knowledge; to find solutions to intractable problems in science and technology, public policy, and the social sciences; and to analyze, contextualize, and express the highest ideals of the human spirit through the humanities and the arts — are all enhanced when we earnestly engage with others whose perspectives and experiences differ from our own.”

To realize these “highest ideals,” we must reimagine what it means to live in community, and we must encourage new pathways to and through Swarthmore. We must also commit to an expansive view of well-being, broadly conceived as support for physical, mental, and emotional health; work-life balance; social life; and a greater sense of inclusion, trust, and belonging. Such a commitment will strengthen a more sustainable community where individuals and groups from disparate backgrounds and views find space for rest, reflection, joy, and flourishing.

Goal 3.1: Prioritize the continued development of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community

Our community provides the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to learn, practice, and model how to live and work with others who are different from each other. We value the enrichment of our community through the engagement of diverse experiences and perspectives. We will prioritize opportunities to recognize expertise in all forms and build pathways to develop and support learning and engagement within and across groups. We are mindful that our community extends to neighbors (e.g. in Chester and Philadelphia) as well as higher education more broadly, and we will build partnerships that allow us to share expertise, resources, and mutual learning.

  • Establish the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to develop a strategic vision of inclusive excellence for the College. Foster competencies necessary for productive, respectful communication across diverse viewpoints and experiences under the auspices of the new vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion and in collaboration with campus partners. 
  • Establish a College-sponsored gap year for a cohort of newly admitted students, fostering greater experiential diversity within the student body and the College community.
  • Admit an annual cohort of up to 20-25 transfer students from community colleges while maintaining the current size of the student body. Provide appropriate resources so these students receive the academic and social support they need to thrive.
  • Ensure that the centers that serve our diverse community receive appropriate levels of resources. Develop greater collaboration between these centers and relevant academic programs. 
  • Build opportunities to support staff that foster better integration and engagement in the community, such as the recognition of multiple forms of expertise and growing pathways for mentoring and professional development. 
  • Enhance and promote programs such as Learning for Life to strengthen relationships between staff and students on subjects of mutual interest. 
  • Institute common readings and other collective activities to connect students, faculty, and staff in shared learning. 
  • Invest in our civic partnerships with Chester and the surrounding communities, including the Chester Children’s Chorus.

Goal 3.2: Adopt the “Swarthmore Promise,” which provides all students equitable access to on- and off-campus resources.

The College offers numerous beyond-the-classroom experiences, such as academically adjacent internships, externships, funded summer opportunities, research fellowships, study abroad, travel embedded within courses, and more. These opportunities are provided by different programs across the College whose staff have worked together to coordinate communications, streamline the application process, and help students navigate financial and other potential barriers that might limit participating in these experiences. We must intentionally provide students with equitable access to these experiences. Doing so requires that we create an infrastructure to improve the integration of these and other high-impact programs, identify new opportunities, and provide sufficient funding for all students to benefit from them.

  • Ensure that all students have the appropriate course materials (textbook affordability), technology (computers), and access to transportation networks (such as providing free SEPTA passes, which simplifies travel to the Philadelphia area) to succeed at Swarthmore.
  • Ensure that every student is able to participate in an internship, a research opportunity, or a civic engagement, study abroad, or other high-impact experience during or between semesters by the time they graduate by addressing financial and other barriers that might limit exploration and experiential learning options.  Support all students in connecting these curricular and co-curricular experiences with career opportunities. 
  • Promote a culture of career exploration and preparedness for all students by reviewing and revising, as needed, options for career-connected learning.

Goal 3.3: Prioritize community health and well-being

While we enjoy and prioritize academic pursuits, in order to remain healthy as individuals and as a community, we must guard against overscheduling and build in time and space for rest, recreation, joy, reflection, and connection. 

  • Review and develop policies and practices that advocate for and prioritize a campuswide culture of health and wellness, building on initiatives such as the Swarthmore Coalition on Well-Being, BeWell, and Garnet Day.
  • Dedicate spaces in the renovated Athletic District and elsewhere on campus to support health and wellness opportunities for all campus community members. 
  • Manage central calendar, scheduling, and communication to promote work-life balance for faculty, staff, and students.
  • Develop community-building and mentoring opportunities for faculty, staff, and students across extra-curricular interests, clubs, and associations. 
  • Explore the possibility of providing child care services on campus.

Goal 3.4: Articulate the core values that define the Swarthmore community

To build a constructive community where all have the opportunity to flourish, we need to be open to learning from others, understand our own and others' boundaries, develop clear governance structures, and engage in civil and sustained conversation.

  • Create guiding principles for how all community members learn, teach, live, and work together, focusing on honesty, mutual respect, collegiality, collaboration, and acceptance of diverse perspectives.
  • Review governance practices and protocols to clarify decision-making among and between faculty, staff, and students.