I hope that the last days of class are winding down well, and that your finals schedules are not too hectic.
Thank you, again, for such a great semester. I am thrilled with our electoral efforts, and look forward to finishing out the academic year as we transition to the more generally “political” side of our engagements. Feel free to check out our latest survey on the semester’s work at https://span.swarthmore.edu/2018-electoral-engagement-survey/.
During that transition, we are fortunate that Ryan Arazi will be SPAN’s new coordinator. Currently an assistant coordinator, Ryan will take up his new role in January and will help to continue and advance SPAN’s mission of providing all members of the “campus community” with information and resources for maximizing their access to political actions. I hope you will join me in warmly welcoming him to his new position!
As this will likely be my last message as coordinator, I just wanted to sign off with a few thoughts. Though the level of political histeria we continue to watch unfold will hopefully not last too much longer, we cannot forget that any “return to normalcy” does not mean that we have returned to some bucolic reality in which the structural problems that became so prescient after the 2016 election have somehow vanished.
Even (and, I think, especially) if we’ve identified or found some common ground, we cannot stop listening, critiquing, and working to address violences at whatever scale they rise up. One interpretation of the French philosopher Michel Foucault’s work by political theorist Chantal Mouffe and others is that power is discursively exercised (and hegemonies maintained/disrupted) through consistent agonistic encounters between ideas. Rather than finding refuge in some ideal civility or consensus, maybe we can try to find comfort in the continuing transformation and practice of conflict in the pursuit of justice.
I am incredibly grateful for all of your work this semester in pursuing this aim through the context of electoral engagement. Please stay engaged in this fight for justice even outside of election cycles. Movements continue at Swarthmore (link to an SJP action taking place this Wednesday) and across the world (link to a New York Times article on political participation).
I hope that you all have a great break. If you have celebrated, are celebrating, or will celebrate a holiday before we return in January, happy holidays! Feel free, if you every have any questions, comments, or critiques, to contact me.
Jacob Demree ’19