Bryn Mawr Students' Letter to President Cassidy

[TW: This letter contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence. The descriptions, presented below in the survivors’ own words, are indented and italicized.]

Following the disbanding of Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi on 4/30/2019, an addendum has been included at the bottom of this letter.

Dear President Cassidy,

In light of Phi Psi’s recently leaked historical archives (see: Swarthmore Voices and Swarthmore Phoenix) and ongoing protests, student activists at Swarthmore, at Haverford, and across the region have called for action from their institutions. We write to you now to ask that you publicly demonstrate your support of the sit-in at the Phi Psi fraternity house, led by Organizing for Survivors (O4S) and the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence.

As a Swarthmore alumna, you know first-hand the academic, extracurricular, and community benefits of the Tri-College consortium. But we cannot only reap the benefits of this consortium; we must also collaborate with and stand behind our peers as they do difficult, dangerous, and important work. The leaked documents, as well as survivor accounts, highlight the sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and classism perpetuated by fraternities. As Haverford student leaders clearly put it, this is not so much a revelation as it is a wake-up call.

Anonymous accounts from Tri-Co students emphasize that the harm caused by the fraternities extends far beyond Swarthmore. This issue impacts our entire community.

One account reads, “It was my first party of Freshman year at the frats and a brother took me to the basement and raped me with a foreign object. I had to go back to Bryn Mawr on the van with it still inside me and go to the hospital to have it taken out.”

Another reads, “I am a trico student, but was directed to this form bc of my experience at the frat in Swat. I was raped in the frat house and cannot even remember who the perpetrator was because of how traumatic the experience was. I was continuously harassed by this person even after the event. Pub safe has treated my case like a joke. I am terrified to come back on campus even though I am currently taking a class there.”

A third reads, “I’m a member of the Tri-Co. My friends and I frequented the frats regularly at the beginning of college. My partner was a brother, but he stood by and watched as multiple of my friends were led into the back room of the basement. When I asked him to lead me down there, he told me “If they went into the back room, there’s nothing I can do”. My friend came to me the next morning crying about being assaulted. Another friend had a finger covered in coke shoved into her mouth.”

As our Bi-Co peers have pointed out, neither Bryn Mawr’s geographical separation from Swarthmore nor our lack of Greek life remove us from responsibility for, or complicity in, the bigotry, misogyny, and sexual assault perpetuated by fraternities. This is a Tri-College issue.

As you read this letter, Tri-Co students are peacefully occupying the Phi Psi fraternity house. They demand the termination of fraternity leases, reallocation of the spaces to students who have been historically marginalized by fraternities, and the elimination of the Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi fraternities. They have no plans to leave until their demands are met.

Just last year, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Admissions issued statements indicating their support of students’ right to peaceful protest and civil dissent. But during the sit-in, Swarthmore College did nothing to protect students of color, in particular black students, international students, and undocumented students, when members of Phi Psi called the Swarthmore Police. Given the previously issued statements, we believe Bryn Mawr should support our peers’ right to safely protest as well.

As a historically women’s college, it is imperative for our students and administration alike to believe survivors, to hold assaulters accountable, and to take a strong institutional stance against the issues of harassment detailed above. We also acknowledge the power alumni often hold in college administrative decisions, and ask that you use your influence as a Swarthmore alumna to support the students and survivors currently occupying the fraternity house.

President Cassidy, we ask you to break Bryn Mawr’s silence. Students and alumni alike have denounced the violence occurring in fraternity spaces, called for the dissolution of committees that suppress change and perpetuate harm, and voiced support for the students and survivors participating in the sit-in. We ask that you join us immediately in publicly condemning the allocation of campus spaces for violent organizations. Your complicity is harmful, and your silence is deafening.

Addendum: As of 4/30/19 at 10:30pm, both Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi announced their decisions to disband and expressed wishes that their buildings be utilized for community benefit. While this is a victory for student protesters and organizers, we recognize that the act of dissolution does not absolve either individual fraternity members (former or current) or Swarthmore administration from acts of harm and complicity. In the words of Swat student organizers themselves,“it is imperative that we continue to fight to eliminate any and all proliferation of violence on our campus... it is further imperative to mend, create, and redistribute.”
We stand with organizers in maintaining their demands to terminate leases and ban fraternities indefinitely, and reiterate the need for a public statement of support by the College, as well as an acknowledgement of past silence. If Bryn Mawr intends to sustain community, support students, and pursue what you, President Cassidy, have called our “excellence in action”, we must mend, create, and redistribute right alongside our Tri-College peers.

Concerned Students and Alumni of Bryn Mawr College

Anika Varty ’19

Hannah Chinn ’19

Maria Britt ’18

Sophia Brown ‘19

Madison Cassidy '19

Samantha Moran ‘19

Sophie Gibson '20

Bella Merchant '21

Eda Tse '19

Madeleine Kerno ‘22

Maya Schneider ‘22

Khari Bowman ‘21

Aakriti Dhital'21

Charlotte Skolasky ‘21

Kate Crotty ‘19

Rhea Manglani ‘17

Samantha Parrish '19

Rachel Hertzberg '19

Maya Ulin-O’Keefe ‘17

Rosemarie Fettig '20

Valeria Aguilera Avila '20

Kate Weiler '20

Anusha Narayan ‘21

Bharati Ganesh ‘22

Liz Marchini '21

Ashley Boyette '20

Nikitha Shakamuri ‘19

Connor Doberstein ‘19

Geeta Sharma '20

Hannah Symonds '19

Hannah Chinn '19

Sophie Philip '22

Claire Atherton ‘19

Charis Nandor '19

Sarah Kate Feferman ‘22

Manal Hussain ‘20

Cara Navarro ‘20

Namrata Basu '19

Ryan Griffin '20

Emily Shein ‘22

Maria Shellman '17

Sonya Fucci '20

Jo Dutilloy '16

Maise Shepard '20

Anna Thompson '22

Ana Llamas ‘20

Danielle Weismann '15

Hannah Rossen ‘15

Kayleigh Wilson '20

Megan Winner ‘20

Clara Wright '19

Beckie Bull '20

Kristine Snyder '02

Ella Wright '19

Viveka Kymal '19

Arianna Bernas ‘20

Emmeline Prozinski ‘20

Shreya Ragavan ‘22

Soaad Elbahwati '21

Ye Ram Kim ‘22

Tiffany Jacobo ‘21

Mia DiMeo ‘20

Rachel Adler '21

Shaili Regmi '21

Natalie Kogan '21

Wynter Pohlenz Telles Douglas, ‘19

Kimberly Milligan '21

Dana Yang ‘21

Emma Pinsky, ‘20

Jennifer Orr '18

Marcia Adams ‘21

Rachel Sadaty-Ellerson ‘19

Catie Wiley ‘20

Laney Myers '20

Mahima Silwal '22

Paula Anderson ‘88

Rafa Khan '22

Storey Deerhake '22

Emily Aguilar ‘22

Ritvika Patodia '20

Kai McGinn ‘21

Kristin McConnell ‘16

Lydia Brunk ‘19

Kylah Fanning '20

Kimberly Lara '22

Amanda Santiago '19

Kaitlin Lara ‘22

Maria Bohan ‘21

Brenna Fineman '22

Louisa Perrin '22

Elizabeth Zhao ‘22

Joan Ndichu’21

Chan Hee Jeong ‘22

Alexis Giron '20

Brianna Martinez ‘22

Esme Read '22

Chloe Feinstein ‘19

Katherine Mallea '20

Kareena Mehta ‘22

Avery King '19

Emma Glazer ‘21

Emma Ecker '21

Elizabeth McGuire '20

Sasha Bauer '19

Alisha Mudbhary ‘19

Lucy Verweij ‘21

Reyna Gariepy ‘21

Alice Berry '19

Sean Keenan ‘20

Sean Keenan ‘20

Callie Folke '20

Tiffany Reed ‘05

Shayra Banta ‘19

Catherine Beveridge '22

Sofia Colosimo ‘19

Anushka Robinson ‘19

Veronica Walton ‘19

Karen Guo ‘22

Jwahir Sundai ‘19

Jennifer Nguyen ‘22

Carolyn Messer '19

Caroline Hsu '13

Cecelia Allen '19

Maria-Tatiana Mitiuriev '20

Angela Zhang ‘19

Shefali Ramakrishna ‘22

Shreya Bhutani ‘22

Colleen Williamson ‘19

Maryam Jahanbin, 2019

Yael Day ‘22

Ilianny Grullon ‘21

Caroline Soffer '20

Will Herzog HC '19

Shannan Stafford ‘19

Una Giurgea '20

Aayzah Mirza'19

Tala Anderson '22

Aurielle Hampton '20

Eliane Nieder '22

Jackie Arroyo’22

Bre Genaro ‘19

Leah Borquez ‘20

Megan Pemberton ‘21

Laura Rodgers ‘22

Evans Anna ‘22

Kaia Valentine ‘20

Rebecca Kaplan '19

Emily Whitten '22

Sabrina Tran '19

Anisha Thornabar ‘19

Kelsey Weymouth-Little '16

Tauni Robinson ‘18

Amadea Bekoe-Tabiri '21

Rina Patel’18

Joanna (Simonis) Herres '05

Helen Harman '20

Dylan Hoffman '19

Gabriela Capone '22

Janelle (Utter) Tanenbaum '12

Isabelle Rule-Becker '22

Nora Dell '19

Tarin Martinez '22

Cassidy Healey '22

Bella Letson-Ettin ‘19

Vic Say ‘21

Paola Salas ‘19

Berit Kirkegaard ‘22

Bethany Mathews ‘20

Cassandra Paul ‘18

Jackie Toben ‘22

Jenisha Stapleton '19

Phoebe Kim ‘22

Emma Regan '20

Swetha Narasimhan '15

Clara Chamorro ‘22

Elicie Edmond '21

Kelsey Raser’20

Angela Lee ‘22

LaBenne Karley ‘22

Miles DeClue ‘22

Dana Caldwell ‘22

Linden Wright ‘22

Ashleigh Muratore '18

Madeline Shuron ‘20

Margaret Morris ‘22

Amelia Thomas ‘20

Avery Matteo '22

Miha Alam’ 17

Vinny Ong ‘22

Victoria Hatchell '20

Dounya Ramadan ‘22

Leila Bagenstos '22

MaryBeth Lewis-Boardman ‘94

Jonsson Maya '20

Libby Otto ‘20

Jess Saludades '21

Marybeth Ruether-Wu '10

Delia Landers ’19

Ana Alvarez ‘19

Emily Williams ‘20

Kara Williamson ‘20

Claire Weeks ‘21

Clio Jensen ‘21

Amelia McDonnell ‘22

Nora Broderick '18

Kellie Dinh '19

Rudrani Sarma ‘16

Franny Mestrich '19

Cynthia Ramirez-Gomez '16

Kathryn Topper '00

Alexa Biswal '21

Sam Taveras '20

Zermeen Sahar ‘18

Ashlee Anstead ‘21

Diana Ducey '05

Julia Hill ‘15

Shannon Ryan ‘10

Claire Knight ‘20

Devica Bhutani ‘18

Lynn Wu '19

Kaylee Verkruisen

Anya Prussin ‘19

Taysha Torres ‘20

Alex Wade ‘22

Alexandra Solomon '08

Julia Lewis '10

Emma Rutenberg ‘19

Maeve White ‘18

Elizabeth (Liv) Hanson 2006

Mayisha Rahman'21

Karina Gonzalez ‘20

Kate Packer-Dawley ‘21

Alexis Tang ‘20

Vivian Altopp ‘22

Katherine Whipple '21

Grace Sue ‘20

Lauren Dana '16

Cydney Kraemer ‘20

Sil Lai Abrams '21

Chloe Weeks '13

Peishan Yu’19

Torr Mundy ‘20

Celia Child '22