SAO Letter of Solidarity With the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence

We, as board members of the Swarthmore Asian Organization (SAO), write in support of the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence and their demands for the termination of the fraternity leases, the removal of the student from the so-called “rape attic” in Phi Psi, and the banning of fraternity parties immediately. While the banning of fraternity parties for the rest of the semester has been a crucial first step to preventing harm on campus, it does not address the systemic power imbalance given to the fraternities through these leases.

Fraternity houses are the sites of long-standing silencing and disrespect toward women and non-binary students, students of color, queer and trans students, and particularly those at the intersections of these identities. By refusing to terminate the fraternity leases, Swarthmore College is complicit in the violence, abuse, and trauma that is inflicted onto the greater student body. Despite student protests, testimonies of trauma, and the most recent release of fraternity “minutes,” Swarthmore College continues to prioritize the financial support of fraternity alums and the social life of a small minority of students over the well-being and safety of all other students.

SAO aims to cultivate safe havens that serve as places of solidarity, pride and love for the API/A community and to interrogate how our community has fallen victim to systemic injustices and white supremacy--ideologies and power structures that have been perpetrated by those within the fraternities. The values of the fraternities are directly opposed to our organization’s goals and missions.

We recognize that fraternities are not the only places where violence occurs and that sexual violence does not end with the termination of fraternity leases or even the removal of fraternities from our campus. Many students, including students of color, queer and trans students, disabled students, and students from other marginalized communities have never entered fraternities yet still experience violence of various forms outside of the fraternity houses. Furthermore, we hope this statement can be used to call to attention the need to center Black and Indigenous students in this movement, both in the dismantling of these systems of power and in the creation of new structures. In alignment with Organizing for Survivors (O4S), we believe that the prevention of sexual violence can only be realized through the continued demand for structural changes to the College’s Title IX policies and practices that better support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and foster community healing through a transformative justice lens. We will continue to support the work of O4S and other organizers in demanding these changes and envisioning and building a safer Swarthmore community. The termination of fraternity leases is a necessary step in this process.

In the framework of transformative justice, SAO Board calls for a radical repurposing of both the Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon fraternity houses to serve marginalized students. We demand the College apologize to the survivors it has harmed because of its mishandling of Title IX cases, negligence in thoroughly addressing the fraternity “minutes” shared with them both in 2013 and 2019, and its consistent delays in implementing O4S’ demands. We also continue to support all of O4S’ demands and encourage all students to advocate for the values of transformative justice and support survivors regardless of their involvement with O4S. It is clear that the College has failed to protect its students, but we must also recognize that we have often failed each other. In the reimagining and rebuilding of a more just Swarthmore, we must continue to hold ourselves and each other accountable for our actions.

It has been well past time for Swarthmore to terminate the fraternity leases. We are committed to supporting the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence, O4S, and all survivors of sexual violence, and advocate for the complete transformation of control from the most dominant systems of power to the most marginalized students.

In solidarity,

SAO Board

Tiffany Wang ‘21

Kent Chen ‘22

Anuk DeSilva ’22

Kenny Mai ‘21

Kassidi Cheng ‘21

Jane Huynh ‘22

Joanne Miao ‘22

Juliane Ding ‘22

Yi Wei ‘21

Chili Shi ‘22