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May 11, 2019

Swarthmore president announces permanent Greek life ban after leaked documents, sit-ins

Details of a 'rape attic' and a culture of degrading activity sparked outrage -- and, now, change

Colleges Fraternities
01162017_Swarthmore_Parrish_Hall Ugen64/via Wikimedia

Parrish Hall at Swarthmore College, named in honor of the first president, contains the admissions, housing, and financial aid offices, along with student housing on the upper floors.

Swarthmore College President Valerie Smith announced Friday that fraternities and sororities will no longer exist at the school in the wake of the release of leaked documents from one fraternity.

The college’s two fraternities, Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon, voluntarily disbanded in the week following the release of the documents, which detailed a “rape attic”, along with years of jokes about sexual assault, minority groups, and women.

Student activists held four days of sit-ins at the college’s two fraternity houses, picking up national attention and turning the microscope on the school.

“The voluntary disbanding of Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon reflects a broader change in student needs and desires,” Smith said in her announcement Friday. “Exclusive, dues-paying social organizations no longer effectively meet the needs of our residential liberal arts environment.”

The school is allowing members of its lone sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, to continue as members through graduation in spring 2022, but the sorority is not allowed to recruit or initiate new members.

The college also announced it will no longer lease space to student groups, as recommended by a Task Force the college assembled to assess “student social events and community standards”.

Smith called the college’s past few weeks a “challenging time” for its community.

“As we move forward, I call for each of us to examine how we live up to the aspiration of inclusivity,” Smith said. “We must try to do so together, without giving up on one another and without giving up on our community.”

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