BREAKING: 30 begin sit-in to demand Pres. Smith & Board stop hiding behind 1991 Ban on using endowment for social purpose

BREAKING: This morning, 30 students and faculty began a sit-in to demand the administration and Board stop hiding behind their 1991 Ban on taking any social concerns into account when managing the endowment. Instead of following the leadership of students, faculty, and alumni, President Smith and the Board have used this ban as an excuse to shy away from taking the moral leadership we so desperately need on climate justice. We are here in President Smith’s office in particular to call on her to support the Ban’s repeal.

Can you join us in Parrish 2nd East Wing to demand answers? 


At this time, public safety has not attempted to cite or remove students from the office. Provost Stephenson agreed to recognize our right to peacefully protest. This is a victory for students and faculty’s right to protest and would not have happened without the massive community pressure.

These times are not normal; yet our College’s administration continues to behave as if they are. The fossil fuel industry is partnering with the Trump administration to promote an all-out assault on our communities and our futures, and our administration continues to say that we must keep our investments neutral. This contradicts everything Swarthmore claims to stand for.

Here’s what’s really going on. Their decision to divest from apartheid was described as a ‘scarring’ process for some Board members. In the end, they divested only when the two African American Board members at the time stood up and threatened to resign if the Board didn’t divest. They ultimately divested at that meeting, taking a powerful moral stand. But afterwards, to avoid this kind of ‘trying’ decision, they issued an all out ban on using the endowment for any and all social purposes.

At Friday’s forum, this was on full display. President Smith and VP of Finance Greg Brown dodged our questions and were unable to give any financial or political reasons for not accepting the referendum for partial divestment — all they could do was hide behind the 1991 Ban.

Throughout this debate, the administration and Board have taken the easy path. Rather than seriously engage, they have sought to divide our community — to pit financial aid against climate action, campus sustainability against systemic political change. Rather than discuss the merits of partial divestment, they chose to cite students for peaceful protest. Yet we now know that their reluctance to take the action we need comes not from a judgement of our campaign on its merits, but out of desire to avoid a repeat of the Apartheid decision.
Historically, Swarthmore has time and time again been a powerful voice for justice. This was not brought about by the administration. From the 1969 SASS Admissions office sit-in to the 11-year long apartheid divestment campaign of the 1980s, change came about because generations of students and faculty rose up. We are here sitting-in today once again calling on the administration to lead with us because at this moment in history we cannot afford nothing less than bold moral leadership.


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