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Have a Great Break

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.

Peace,

Jacob Demree ’19
(jjdemree@gmail.com)

Welcome, Class of 2022!

Welcome to the Class of 2022! We enjoyed speaking to over one hundred of you to register you to vote and provide other resources.  Every Wednesday starting next week, feel free to stop by Shane Lounge for free postage for election materials and other information!

See our picture on the Swarthmore Bulletin’s Instagram page here.

I stand with O4S, SJP, Sunrise, and students

A quick note.

First, Organizing for Survivors is continuing to hold a sit in on the first floor of Parrish. This action comes in light of recent communications from administration, and has been supported by alumni, faculty members, many students, and others.

Second, professors continue to fast in preparation for the Board of Managers’ May meeting to emphasize the importance of climate change and socially engaged financial policy. This builds on the work of Sunrise Swarthmore and, previously, Mountain Justice.

Third, Students for Justice in Palestine have erected a wall in Kohlberg courtyard to push for the elimination of Sabra hummus on campus. Sabra, as a corporation, holds ties to actors and institutions which directly support violence against the Palestinian people.

Fourth, students are working to encourage a meeting between the administration of our school and other organizations to prevent the closure of the College Access Center of Delaware County. This is an incredible organization which has provided services, opportunities, and spaces to Chester students free of charge.

SPAN’s mission has always been to increase engagement in the political and electoral processes, at all levels. In seeing my classmates act with such courage in the face of uncertain consequences across a variety of issues connected by the common thread of institutional change and discussing/participating in various actions with others, I realized that encouraging people to be more active in politics cannot possibly be distinguished from a broader understanding of political action. Voting is certainly one of the most essential modes of political engagement, but is by no means the only.

Being a Medical Anthropology student, this should have been clearer to me initially: upsetting the institutional structures of power for a good reason (as all of these movements are) can more effectively be accomplished through diverse actions performed by a coalition of actors. Voting is necessary…and so is direct action.

I support the actions of O4S, Sunrise, SJP, and the many others who are fighting for social justice on this campus.

I do not wish to force anyone to participate in these movements, but would propose that, if political engagement is our aim, we all consider the strengths and potential impacts of the exemplary, multiple, and coalition-led forms of nonviolent struggle on our campus during the past weeks (and years).

– Jacob Demree ’19

Wow!

Thank you to everyone who came to yesterday’s March for Our Lives! It was a great event and I am excited about working to further the cause of sensible reforms of gun legislation in Pennsylvania and in the federal government.

I just wanted to take the time to thank a few people who made the trip to the March possible.

First, thank you so much to Terry Rumsey and Robin Lasersohn (DelCo United) for allowing us to use a bus for transportation to and from the rally.  This was a really great event, and I am incredibly thankful for your making this opportunity accessible to Swarthmore students.
Thank you also to NextGen for generously providing snacks for the bus trip! Along with the much-needed water bottles, you were instrumental in making sure that all of the protestors traveling would stay hydrated and well-fed.
Finally, thank you to everyone who traveled to the March on a Saturday during midterms! I hope you enjoyed the experience, and would welcome any feedback you have.
I look forward to working with everyone again in the future (and will hopefully see a few of you at our next meeting on Wednesday!).
– Jacob Demree

 

Voices: Protesting for Our Lives

In light of the continuous and constant threat of school shooting, the upcoming national protest March for Our Lives will deliver this message directly to Congress this Saturday, March 24th—in Washington, DC and throughout the United States. Many Swatties will be participating in nearby marches. Transportation is available to travel to Washington. In chorus with hundreds of thousands of protesters, I and others will be demanding more for our communities.

While my grief has a limit, my hope does not. We are protesting for our lives.

Read Victoria Lee-A-Young’s article here, then sign up for tomorrow’s March!

New York Times: Vote. That’s Just What They Don’t Want You to Do.

This is a fragile moment for the nation. The integrity of democratic institutions is under assault from without and within, and basic standards of honesty and decency in public life are corroding. If you are horrified at what is happening in Washington and in many states, you can march in the streets, you can go to town halls and demand more from your representatives, you can share the latest outrageous news on your social media feed — all worthwhile activities. But none of it matters if you don’t go out and vote.

Read more of this article here!

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