Dear Commons Community,
Valerie A. Smith, Swarthmore College’s president, said in a written statement on Friday that, based on a task force’s recommendations, the college would no longer allow Greek life on its campus and would end the practice of leasing buildings to student groups. The ban comes after recent student protests led to the disbanding of two fraternities. Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon announced last week that they would shut down after the publication of racist, sexist, and homophobic documents, which appeared to have been written by members of Phi Psi, led to a four-day sit-in by student activists.
The two fraternities disbanded before the task force could complete its work. But the protests didn’t stop there. Unsatisfied with how the college had handled the situation, another group of students started a hunger strike.
The showdown highlighted the conflict between student activists demanding immediate action and the common tendency of administrators to act through formal processes.
“The voluntary disbanding of Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon reflects a broader change in student needs and desires,” Smith said. “Exclusive, dues-paying social organizations no longer effectively meet the needs of our residential liberal-arts environment.”
“I recognize that, for generations, membership in Greek-letter organizations has been a meaningful part of the Swarthmore experience for many in our community,” Smith said. “We now have many more initiatives designed to help us achieve this goal. The college is committed to providing opportunities for all students to flourish and feel at home here.”
As President Smith said in her letter, Swarthmore will be better off for this.