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Collective Reflection

In “Collective Reflection” (summer 2019), President Valerie Smith said that “exclusive, dues-paying social organizations no longer effectively meet the needs of our residential liberal arts environment.” Delta Upsilon played a huge role in helping me succeed at Swarthmore. It was the affinity group that provided those of us with a less-than-ideal, small-town secondary education with the fellowship that helped us cope with Swarthmore’s stress and intellectual demands. Without the fraternity, I don’t believe I would have graduated. I contend that even today, students with backgrounds like mine need a place where they can feel safe and relax with others who are having trouble with the rigors of Swarthmore. Note, too, that the dues paid by members allowed DU to sponsor inclusive parties for the entire campus.

President Smith has said that “civility and dissent must coexist.” Apparently, and unfortunately, intimidation trumped civility this spring, and I am concerned that the Swarthmore I knew is being replaced by one that doesn’t foster open discourse and peaceful resolution. I’m afraid that being “politically correct” is now more important than being inclusive of all points of view. Swarthmore needs to be careful that it doesn’t become a school solely for the brightest, most liberal and academically driven students. Personal and professional success, to a large degree, is based on common sense and strong social and emotional skills. Fraternities attract students with those traits; they provide diversity to the campus and can help other students understand the “real world.”

President Smith wrote me in mid-May and said: “I share your deep concern that the spirit of intolerance that has pervaded so much of the national culture seems to exist at Swarthmore. We must actively resist this tendency, though I have no easy solutions to offer.” Please help Preseident Smith find solutions.

—RANDALL LARRIMORE ’69, Bethany Beach, Del.