Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
After recent communication from a secret Admissions informant who wishes to be identified only as “Deep Oat,” the Daily Gazette reports that the supposed Quaker heritage of Swarthmore College may well be the biggest “back-story” sham in liberal arts college history.
During the phone call received one week ago, Deep Oat directed editors to a safe hidden in the tunnel that runs between Parrish and the Science Center. What the editors found there reveals that the entire tale of Swarthmore’s Quaker past is, in fact, a myth started in the ’50s to enhance Swat’s reputation as a “Thoughtful” institution which values “Community” and “Social Responsibility”.
What the Documents Reveal:
- While tour guides attest that campus-wide Collections used to occur regularly and there are ever-present rumors that these Collections are in the process of being restarted, it turns out that Collections have never occurred.
- The “Friends Historical Library” was an obscure back room Mccabe didn’t know what to do with. The College then hired friendly retirees from the Ville to sit at the desk and look impressive as tours and students peer in through the doorway. While the library’s contents are unknown, rumors suggest it may be filled with life-size cutouts of the “Friends” cast.
- A letter from then-president Courtney Smith to the Board of Managers dated November 23rd, 1951 reads: “It will be a financial impossibility to construct multiple dining halls” around campus. Later, explaining both the problem and solution: “Convincing the student body that crowding into a single building for meals is not just necessary but ideal. This will require naturalizing in them the sense of being a collective mass. I have been talking with J. Bach from Admissions about his proposal to re-image the school and I believe that employing a rhetoric of ‘Community’ will aid us greatly.” A faint “Bwa ha ha ha” is discernible beneath the signature.
- The Lucretia C. Mott who aided in Swarthmore’s founding is not the famed Quaker abolitionist and women’s rights activist Lucretia Coffin Mott as the administration claims, but Lucretia Cyder Mott, famed highway bandit, and daughter of Mott’s Applesauce tycoon Samuel R. Mott.
In light of this discovery, the only thing certain anymore is that Swarthmore’s well-publicized “Quaker Heritage” hearkens back to a past that is as halcyon as it is imaginary.