Swarthmore doesnt bite on demands from fasting activists

Despite radical activism, including fasting, the Board of Managers at Swarthmore College has announced that it will not use part of its endowment on “social objectives.”

In a Monday email to students and faculty, Board Chairman Salem Shuchman wrote that the Board “must consider [its] broader mission in determining any action that would potentially limit the performance of the endowment on which we are increasingly reliant.”

“The Board,” he explained, has a duty to back the school’s mission, which includes “maintaining [its] educational leadership, providing financial access to all students on a need-blind basis, and ensuring that [its] facilities support the academic pursuits of [its] faculty and students.” 

“Our goals are very clear, but they are also increasingly costly,” he added, noting that financial aid in the last five years alone has grown “from $29.2 million to $45.6 million.” 

[RELATED: Pro-Palestine students want Swarthmore to ban Sabra Hummus]

Students and faculty members at Swarthmore have placed increasing pressure on the Board to change its policy over the last few years, culminating in a student referendum that directly called for the Board to end a 1991 policy prohibiting the use of endowment funds to advance political objectives.

Likewise, several professors and more than a dozen students also participated in an activist hunger fasting campaign organized in opposition to the school’s investment holdings in the fossil fuel industry.

As previously reported by Campus Reform, Professor Lee Smithey sent an email to the campus community in April, announcing that three professors would fast “under the weight of concern” until the Board meeting in May.

Professor Mark Wallace, who was the first academic to fast in late April, told Campus Reform at the time that after fasting for several days he felt “floaty and disconnected” and had a “constant pounding headache.”

He claimed, quoting environmentalist Bill McKibben, that we are “facing the prospect of the death of death itself” and called climate change a “special emergency” that humans “have never faced before.”

Divesting from fossil fuels, the professor reasoned, is not a “social objective,” but rather a “state of emergency that

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