SJP Letter of Solidarity with Coalition to End Fraternity Violence Sit-in
We, Swarthmore Students for Justice in Palestine, write to express solidarity with the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence, which is currently sitting in Phi Psi fraternity to demand the permanent termination of both frat leases.
For years students have expressed their deep frustration at administrators’ inaction in the face of egregious, repeated acts of fraternity violence. The documented racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments that have recently surfaced are only a small fraction of the continued harm for which the fraternities are responsible. Swarthmore fraternities have a long history of sexual violence and an ongoing lack of accountability that prove what many students have known for years: these institutions cannot continue to exist alongside a commitment to cultivating a safer social scene on campus. The Coalition calls on the College to take responsibility for allowing harm to persist by ending the fraternities leases and banning these organizations from our campus.
We link this struggle for accountability and an end to violence on our campus to the struggle for the affirmation of Palestinian human rights. Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation are faced with the daily realities of home demolition, illegal land annexation, and containment via a discriminatory system of segregated roads and military checkpoints. These realities are material manifestations of white supremacist claims to steal physical space and strip indigenous Palestinians of bodily autonomy. In addition, the IDF routinely uses sexual violence against Palestinian political prisoners, including threatening rape as an intimidation tactic as well as strip and internal body searching, in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. Historically, the Zionist militias that forcibly displaced indigenous Palestinians during the Nakba similarly used rape as a tool for genocide. The IDF has also been known to threaten “outing” LGBTQ+ Palestinians publicly if they do not become informants for the occupying military. Though operating on a much smaller scale, fraternities similarly enact violence against students with marginalized identities by asserting a claim to own physical space, from which they can exclude others at will. Fraternities - including those at Swarthmore - consistently endanger marginalized bodies by perpetuating a toxic culture that relies on ideologies of exclusion, specifically racism, misogyny, homophobia, and ableism.
Indeed, fraternities as institutions - like settler colonial governments - are historically rooted in the right to exclude. They are meant to reproduce networks of social power and material profit for society’s most privileged. They maintain white supremacy by preserving a physical space for racist, homophobic, and sexual violence to thrive. Their social power is disproportionate and undue, and the fraternities’ retaliatory calls for police monitoring of peaceful protestors is a reflection of their disproportionate institutional power. While Palestinians engaging in nonviolent direct action are met with violent repression and the State of Israel’s rejection of their basic human rights, students demonstrating against fraternity violence are met with threats from authorities and administrative indifference.
We will continue our advocacy to ensure that both will eventually be held accountable. Institutions and governing bodies that systematically ignore and exclude communities as well as demonize peaceful protests create a barrier to equality. We support the creation of transformative spaces that heal communities and allow for recognition and coalition building. We express solidarity with the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence and Organizing for Survivors in our shared fight for dignity, safety, and the equitable distribution of power.