Swarthmore Rescinds Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree

Swarthmore has rescinded its honorary degree to Bill Cosby, effective immediately, the school announced.

“Mr. Cosby has testified in a deposition under oath, which was made public in July, that he routinely and premeditatively drugged women before having sex with them,” Swarthmore President Valerie Smith said. “We find that his admitted personal behaviors are wholly inconsistent with our institutional values — and ones we would never want our own students or graduates to emulate.” Read more »

What Swarthmore Could Learn From Jerry Falwell’s University

Parrish Hall via Swarthmore. "Jerry Falwell portrait" by Liberty University - Liberty University. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Parrish Hall via Swarthmore. “Jerry Falwell portrait” by Liberty University. Licensed under Creative Commons.

In late August, just a few days before classes began at Swarthmore College, a member of the class of 2016 — to spare her future Google angst, let’s call her “the Victim” — took a walk in the Crum Woods, a quiet bit of forest near campus. There, scrawled on a log, she glimpsed what the Phoenix, an independent newspaper at the college, described in an article published on September 3rd as “an offensive slur.” The Victim notified Public Safety at the school, which obliterated the graffiti. Alas, the damage was already done.

The Victim was disturbed by what she’d seen. “It was just a really weird feeling,” she told the Phoenix, “and I just left, and I went home because I was just like, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’” She spoke to several deans at the college about her experience and also informed members of the Swarthmore African American Student Society (SASS) (of whom, the Phoenix informs us, she is not one), “to prevent others from having to endure this painful experience” — which of course they wouldn’t, presumably, since the offending scrawl had been removed, except that the Victim posted photos of the log on the SASS Facebook page. Read more »

One Philly College Makes Forbes’ Top 10 List

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Well, Forbes has published its 2015 list of the Top Colleges in the U.S., and it’s bound to cause some consternation among status-conscious grads hereabouts, given what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has called these rankings’ “quasi-biblical power.” Alas, the only local school to crack the Top 10 was Swarthmore, weighing in at number seven. (True, Princeton stands in fourth place, but we can never quite decide whether it’s “local” or not.)

For the curious, here are the Top 10 in order: 1) Pomona College; 2) Williams College; 3) Stanford; 4) Princeton; 5) Yale; 6) Harvard; 7) Swarthmore; 8) Brown; 9) Amherst; and 10) MIT. In case you’re wondering, these are Forbes’s all-around rankings, based, it says, in this “new age of return-on-investment education,” on “outcomes.” Factors taken into account include low student debt, student satisfaction, and four-year graduation rate.

Other local schools in the top 100: Read more »

Campus Rape Doc The Hunting Ground Screens Tonight

still from The Hunting Ground

An image from the movie “The Hunting Ground”

Tonight a new widely acclaimed documentary about sexual assault on campus, The Hunting Ground, will screen at the Ritz Five at Second and Walnut in partnership with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) to mark the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. After the film, there will be a panel discussion moderated by Tara Murtha, a journalist who’s written extensively about sexual violence and who now works for the Women’s Law Project.

The documentary was directed by produced by Amy Ziering and directed by Kirby Dick, the team that also made The Invisible War, the Academy Award-nominated documentary about sexual assault in the American military. When The Hunting Ground premiered at Sundance, Ramin Satoodeh wrote for Variety:

Read more »

Hate Speech Messages On Swarthmore Campus Target LGBT and Asexual Communities

swarthmore sidewalk chalk

Photo from Swarthmore’s “Daily Gazette”

This Monday night, in honor of LGBT History Month, some students at Swarthmore College got together to write some pro-gay messages on sidewalks around campus. The writings comprised funny little sayings, like “Queers eat here,” scribbled outside popular dining spot Sharples, and “George and Molly are queer,” was written outside Clothier in reference to two dogs who call the bookstore home.

It was all fun and games, meant to spread a message and put a smile on people’s faces the following morning, but things turned ugly before the sun came up. Around 2 a.m., students found the original markings replaced with hate speech, phrases like “Gays can’t make kids w/o a petri dish,” “For true equality let the women rape the men.”

Read more »

Morning Headlines: NIMBY Drama Stirs Up Between Residents and Swarthmore College

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Three things are set to happen once construction ends on the new development Swarthmore College has commissioned: First, more books will be available; second, the borough will get its first liquor license; third, Route 320 (Chester Road) will see a shift in traffic flow. Two of these are unwelcome changes for some Swarthmore residents.

As the Inquirer’s Laura McCrystal reports, an inn, bookstore, and roundabout are going to to be constructed in the area, the latter development starting this week. Hopes for the roundabout, which is planned for the intersection of Chester Road and Rutgers Avenue, include it “improv[ing] a dangerous intersection and connect[ing] the college to its community.”

However, opponents of the roundabout see it a different way: Read more »

Swarthmore Applications Drop Due to Extra 500-Word Essay, School Says

Applications to Swarthmore College dropped 16 percent this year, and the school has a culprit: The extra supplemental 500-word essay the school required in this year’s app. By contrast, applications at Penn — which dropped an essay this time — saw applications to the school rise 15 percent.

“Twice as many essays at twice the length was too much,” one prospective student who chose not to apply told the Inquirer. To be fair to Swarthmore kids, lots of people go there for math and whatever. But also it’s an extra 500-word essay for a liberal arts school. You’ll be writing much longer papers if you decide to attend the school!

Read more »

Rape, Rape-Rape and Sexual Assault at Colleges


If you haven’t read Simon van Zuylen-Wood’s terrific piece in the May issue of Philadelphia magazine on sexual assaults at Swarthmore College, do so. It’s called “Rape Happens Here,” and it starts off with a young woman’s description of an incident in her senior year as a Swattie. Here is that description:

 [S]he was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months. They’d now decided — mutually, she thought — just to be friends. When he ended up falling asleep on her bed, she changed into pajamas and climbed in next to him. Soon, he was putting his arm around her and taking off her clothes. “I basically said, ‘No, I don’t want to have sex with you.’ And then he said, ‘Okay, that’s fine’ and stopped,” [the woman] told me. “And then he started again a few minutes later, taking off my panties, taking off his boxers. I just kind of laid there and didn’t do anything — I had already said no. I was just tired and wanted to go to bed. I let him finish. I pulled my panties back on and went to sleep.

After one of my colleagues read the page proofs for the piece, he came into my office. “Did you find that first incident to be a little … ambiguous?” he asked tentatively. I told him I didn’t find it ambiguous at all; it didn’t meet my definition of rape. Another colleague overheard our conversation and joined us. She, too, said what happened to the woman didn’t sound like rape—“Or if it is,” she added, “I’ve been raped in every relationship I’ve ever been in.”

Read more »

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