Swarthmore College Ends Greek Life On Campus After Massive Student Protests

In the wake of a scandal involving two fraternity chapters and a massive student-led protest, Swarthmore College has banned fraternities and sororities on campus. The move comes almost two weeks after leaked internal documents from one fraternity revealed allegations of racist, misogynistic and homophobic behavior from former members.

Fraternities and sororities will no longer exist at the College,” Swarthmore College President Valerie Smith said in a statement on Friday. “Exclusive, dues-paying social organizations no longer effectively meet the needs of our residential liberal arts environment.”

The announcement came after the Task Force for Student Social Events and Community Standards, which examined the social life on campus, released recommendations in a report. 

“The college should limit parties with alcohol during the first several weeks of the fall semester, and, in particular, we recommend that the practice of allowing a ‘Disorientation’ party be ended,” the report said, per The Hill. The report also suggested that the Office of Student Engagement should have an active role in “supporting and encouraging a new era of student party hosting.”

Earlier this month, Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon, the only two fraternities at the liberal arts school, voluntarily disbanded after public outrage over allegations of racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments. Swarthmore's two publications, Voices and The Phoenix, first published the 117-page document that is dated between 2012 and 2016 and allegedly written by Phi Psi members, CNN reported. The documents reportedly outlined comments made, including rape jokes, derogatory comments about minorities, women and LGBTQ+ community members, and incidents of hazing, during the fraternities “minute meetings.” 

CNN reported that it also referenced Delta Upsilon’s “rape attic” and “rape tunnel.” The fraternity has since denied the allegations. 

The leaked documents sparked outrage among students. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, students staged a multi-day sit-in at the organization’s house and in Smith’s office until the organizations were permanently banned. 

The college also decided not to lease space to student groups anymore. Since Delta Upsilon didn’t enter into a lease agreement with the college this year, Phi Psi’s decision to disband and terminate its lease on May 1 marked the official end of the college’s leases with student groups, Smith said.

Kappa Alpha Theta sorority chapter will continue through the spring of 2022, but the chapter will not be allowed to recruit or initiate any new members. This would allow for a natural termination of the chapter once current members graduate, Smith said.

“I recognize that serious fissures in our community remain open, and I am sorry this has been such a challenging time,” Smith said in a statement. Going forward, Smith asked students “to examine how we live up to the aspiration of inclusivity,” and to “practice the art of deep listening. Do not accept division.” 

She ended her statement encouraging students to “remain in difficult conversations, especially with those with whom we disagree. This work will not be easy, but we will all be the better for it.”