Campus Quality

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Campus Quality


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3 College Sophomore

Campus Quality: The current gym is sufficient for working out. There is a new one being built.

3 people found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Campus Quality: The facilities are easily accessible and available for students to use freely.

2 College Freshman

Campus Quality: The library and athletic center are outdated, the new Matchbox building should be a great addition to the athletic facilities though.

4 College Freshman

Campus Quality: Its quirky and liberal if thats your thing. Not mine, the progressiveness can be too much at times.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Campus Quality: Some are better than others, only one dining hall, dorms are generally older (except the two new ones built about 5 years ago), academic buildings vary by department


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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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To be blunt, Swarthmore’s generous endowment makes for an undisputedly beautiful campus. Sometimes students say they feel like they’re walking through a five-star resort in the English countryside instead of a liberal arts college in suburban Philadelphia. The campus is home to the Scott Arboretum, whose employees are constantly working on the upkeep of the carefully manicured landscaping around campus. The College seems to do a good job of utilizing the architecture of the campus buildings, which adds to the beauty of the campus.

A lot has changed in the past few years, including the widening of Clothier Field Stadium to accommodate lacrosse, field hockey, and soccer; the addition of new artificial turf with a base designed to prevent the field from flooding; and the construction of floodlights that will not disturb wildlife in the nearby Crum Woods. Parrish Hall, the official student center, and the most widely used facility, Mullan Tennis Center, have both been renovated. The other places to hang out on campus—Kohlberg Coffee Bar, the new Science Center Beverage Lab, and Tarble—are decent. The main complaint from students is the need for additional campus dining space, but the College continues to adhere to its “Quaker tradition”—a phrase that the administration uses frequently—and insists that there be only one major dining hall on campus. At busy times, Sharples Dining Hall, can be overwhelmed with students, many of whom are tired of eating the same food in the same place every day. However, considering its size, Swarthmore’s facilities are decent and undeniably pleasant to look at, if not always the most functional.

Facts & Statistics

Service & Maintenance Staff
Campus Size
399 acres
Student Centers
Parrish Hall
Campus Library?
Main Libraries
  • Cornell Library of Science and Engineering
  • McCabe Library
  • Underhill Music and Dance Library
Popular Places to Chill
  • Alice Paul Lounge
  • Kohlberg Coffee Bar
  • Paces
  • Parrish Beach
  • Parrish Parlors
Bar on Campus
Bowling on Campus
Coffeehouse on Campus
  • Kohlberg Coffee Bar
  • Science Center Coffee Bar
Movie Theater on Campus
The Lang Performing Arts Center shows relatively new movies on weekends.
"Green" Initiatives
Every dorm has a Green Associate (GA) who reminds students to practice "green" habits. The GAs put compost buckets in the dorms and remind everyone to recycle.
School Slang
  • ASAP: Acquaintance Sexual Assault Prevention; the group helps to prevent sexual assault on campus and gives a mandatory workshop to incoming first-years.
  • BCC: The Black Cultural Center, a pretty sweet house for students of African ancestry
  • Beirut: Otherwise known as beer pong, a favorite drinking game at Swat, especially at the frats
  • CA: Campus Advisers; upperclassmen who help first-years adjust and host activities during Orientation Week.
  • CJC: The College Judicial Committee
  • Crum Regatta: Annual "anything-that-floats" race on Crum Creek; students build the boats out of almost anything to keep them afloat.
  • Crumhenge: A circle of small stones in the Crum Woods and the final destination of the trust walk during Orientation Week
  • Cygnet Shopping: Searching the online "facebook" for hotties-good luck!
  • Daily Gazette: Swarthmore's online daily newspaper
  • The Dash: Swarthmore's main website for everything relating to Swat
  • Dash for Cash: Annual tradition that originated with the rugby team; runners get naked and run through the halls of Parrish.
  • Dip of the Month Club: A group of Swatties that goes skinny dipping in the Crum on the last night of every month, even January!
  • Halcyon: Swarthmore's yearbook, which is free to all students
  • Hallcest: Hooking up with someone from your hall; hallcest is taboo at Swat.
  • IC: The Intercultural Center, home to several campus groups, including SQU, Enlace, and SAO
  • ITS: Information Technology Services
  • Margaritaville: The biggest frat party of the year during Spring Fling at Delta Upsilon
  • McCabe Mile: An intense, 18-lap race to the finish in McCabe Library; the trophy is a new roll of Scott toilet paper.
  • ML: Mary Lyon, the sci-fi dorm that might as well be located in a galaxy far, far away from campus
  • Paces: A student-run cafĂ© in Tarble and the site of some of the best campus parties
  • Parrish Beach: The lawn in front of Parrish Hall and a favorite hangout for Swatties during the warmer days
  • PDC: Primary Distribution Course; the College currently requires students to take a certain number of these courses to graduate.
  • The Phoenix: Swarthmore's campus newspaper, released every Thursday
  • The Pike: The Baltimore Pike-one of the closest signs of life outside of Swarthmore; it's home to Target, Springfield Mall, several restaurants, and Genaurdi's supermarket.
  • PPR: Palmer, Pittenger, and Roberts, a trio of dorms just off campus
  • Primal Scream: A scream from the gut of a Swarthmore at midnight on the night before final exams begin; watch out-it comes out of nowhere.
  • Pterodactyl Hunt: SWIL's biggest campus event; an annual game in which Swatties chase each other around with tin-foil wings and Styrofoam bats and try to capture the Pterodactyl.
  • QSA: Queer/Straight Alliance, a group for queer students and queer allies
  • Quaker Matchbox: What many people call Swat because of its students' reputation for marrying one another; rumor has it that 1 in 6 marry another Swattie.
  • RA: Residential Assistant; these upperclassman hall advisers are more for student support than discipline at Swat.
  • Reading Week: The week, or part of a week, after classes and before finals when students try their best to prepare for finals and write papers like crazy; also a good time to catch up on some sleep
  • SAC: Social Activities Committee, a group that reviews and funds all campus parties and is the reason most Swat parties are free
  • Sager: An annual symposium on queer issues that culminates into a crazy party; as the saying goes at Sager, "Boys wear a dress and girls wear less," but everyone pretty much just shows up naked-or close to it.
  • SAO: Swarthmore Asian Organization, a support group for Asian and Asian American students
  • SASA: Swarthmore African Students Association, a support group for African students
  • SASS: Swarthmore African-American Student Society, a support group for African American students
  • SBC: Student Budget Committee; you go to them when you need money for your group.
  • SCCS: Swarthmore College Computer Society, a group that manages college e-mail accounts and Web sites
  • Screw Your Roommate: An annual dance where roommates hook each other up with a blind date; the best part is the dinner at Sharples before the dance, where dates meet one another in bizarre, unorthodox ways.
  • Sexile: The term for the act of getting your roommate out of the room while you get your groove on
  • SHC: Sexual Health Counselors: Got a question concerning what's going on "down there?" They've got answers.
  • SOCA: Students of Caribbean Ancestry, a group for Swatties of Caribbean Ancestry
  • Sophomore Paper: A required paper due in the spring semester of your sophomore year; in the paper, you declare a major and your plan of study for the next two years.
  • Specs: The Swarthmore term for prospective students (meant to be as demeaning as it sounds)
  • Spring Fling: Occurs the first weekend after classes are over spring semester; Spring Fling is a collection of parties and fun including Worthstock and Margaritaville.
  • SQU: Swarthmore Queer Union, a support group for queer and questioning Swatties
  • The Swarthmore Bubble: A term for the phenomenon of forgetting about the world outside of Swarthmore (plan on being totally uninformed about popular culture while you're here); temporary cures include trips to the Pike or Philly.
  • Swat Goggles: What you put on to search for potential partners in a sea of generally odd-looking people; similar to beer goggles, but with Swat Goggles, standards are taken way down and everyone starts to look attractive.
  • Swattie: The term for a Swarthmore student; The term usually has a geeky connotation (go figure).
  • SWIL: Swarthmore Warders of Imaginative Literature, students who usually reside in Mary Lyon
  • Tri-Co: A collective term for Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore colleges
  • TRIPOD: A term for the Tri-College library cataloging system
  • The Ville: Another term for the business district of Swarthmore borough
  • Ville Rats: The obnoxious teens who hang out around campus and like to throw snowballs at passing Swatties; you can also see them skating (mostly falling down) in front of Sharples on a daily basis in warmer months.
  • WA: Writing Associates, students trained to help improve your writing
  • Walk of Shame: The term for the early-morning walk back from the dorm room of a person with whom you hooked up; at Swat, everyone will know your scandal before they eat their breakfast burritos.
  • Worthstock: A day-long festival of live music held during Spring Fling in Worth courtyard
  • WSRN: The college campus radio station; its slogan is "WSRN: Fiercely Independent Radio."
  • Collections: These are gatherings of the entire Swarthmore student body. There is time reserved in the academic schedule for a Collection every Friday afternoon; however, Collections now only occur during times when controversial issues strike campus. First Collection is especially important. It occurs during Orientation Week for all first-year students. It's a ceremonial ritual and the official beginning of a student's time here.
  • Crum Regatta: Crum Regatta is an annual anything-that-floats race on the Crum Creek. Student racers construct boats out of every kind of material, from recycling bins to Sharples trays. Awards are presented to the first vessel to make it down the creek, as well as the most creative boats.
  • Crunk Fest : This is a secret. You have to get accepted first to know what this is. No, really, only Swarthmore students know.
  • Dash for Cash: Dash for Cash is a semi-annual streak down the main hall of Parrish Hall, the College's main administrative building. The tradition initially involved the rugby team, but the Dash now includes all varieties of Swatties. Eager spectators line the hall stuffing money into the hands of the wily participants.
  • The Graduate : On the night before classes begin for the fall semester, Swarthmore tradition insists that there be a showing of the movie The Graduate. There is nothing like a crowd full of Swatties singing Simon & Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" to get you rarin' to go for another year.
  • Madonna's "Like a Prayer": The unofficial Swarthmore alma mater, "Like a Prayer" is played at all of the best Swarthmore parties and is the closest a lot of Swatties come to religious satisfaction. At the peak of the party, just when everyone is drunk enough to sing along and attempt to dance like Madonna (rosary beads and all), you can expect to hear the first few lines over the speakers . . . "Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone . . ." No one really knows how this tradition came about, but it fits Swat parties perfectly.
  • Mary Lyon's Halloween Party: One of the best parties of the year, the Mary Lyons Halloween party brings out even the meekest of Swatties-in skanky French maid costumes!
  • McCabe Mile: The McCabe Mile is an 18-lap race inside McCabe Library. To the victor goes an unprecedented gift: a fresh roll of Scott toilet paper, in honor of Thomas McCabe's involvement in the Scott toilet paper company. Only at Swarthmore do students combine athletics, literacy, and toiletries into one event.
  • Sager: Sager is a week-long symposium that includes lectures, performances, and events focusing on queer issues. The symposium is the result of an annual gift from alum Richard Sager and concludes with one of the year's biggest parties, referred to as Sager. The policy of the Sager party is "Boys wear a dress; girls wear less," but a lot of partygoers wind up naked, or nearly naked, no matter their gender. Expect to see anything at Sager-really, anything goes.
  • Screw Your Roommate: Screw Your Roommate is an annual dance during the spring semester in which roommates or friends hook each other up with blind dates. The dance can be pretty cool itself, but the real attraction is dinner at Sharples right before. At dinner, dates have to find one another, usually through a creative gimmick. Techniques for locating dates in the past have included dressing like Tarzan and climbing up the high stone wall in Sharples in search of Jane, and duct-taping yourself to the bottom of a table in the hopes that the Hulk comes to save you.
  • Spring Fling: Spring Fling is a weekend-long collection of parties and fun times that occurs the weekend before Reading Week in spring semester. Swatties party it up and let off a semester's worth of steam at events like Worthstock, the Willets Carnival, and Margaritaville.
Urban Legends
  • A Swarthmore student named Herschel Ware drowned in 1912, and the College's swim test requirement is allegedly the result of a hefty grant from his family to the College.
  • If you walk through the underpass under the train tracks behind Sharples while the borough's fire horn is going off, you'll lose your hearing for a week.
  • Some say the College did away with sororities on campus because a woman who was rejected from a sorority jumped from the Swarthmore Bell Tower to her death.
  • The ghost of an old janitor is said to haunt Wharton dorm.
  • The plot for the movie Dead Man on Campus supposedly originated at Swarthmore. A student whose roommate died received all As for the rest of the year because of the "dead-man's clause" in College policy.
Favorite Things To Do
Catch a Movie Committee movie; party it up (for free!) at Paces student-run coffeehouse (does not accept campus meal plan); chow on some sushi in student-run café, Qub; or grab a chai in Kohlberg Coffee Bar. Students can catch a Movie Committee movie, party it up (for free!) at Paces student-run coffeehouse (does not accept campus meal plan), chow on some sushi in student-run Qub, or grab a chai in Kohlberg Coffee Bar. Other things to do include going to lectures galore, watching performances, walking through art exhibits, chilling at a coffee bar, swimming in Ware Pool, sunbathing or playing Frisbee on Parrish Beach, or partying!
Student Organizations Web Site
Student Newspaper
The Phoenix
Clubs and Organizations on Campus
Swarthmore prides itself on the fact that a student group or organization exists for practically any student and any preference. More so, the ability to create a club is simple: find a couple of friends who are willing to create it with you and apply for a charter. Clubs and organizations range from student council to debate team to an all-boys a capella group (Sixteen Feet) to a variety of sports clubs. Overall, you should easily be able to find a club you like.
Student Activities Offered
  • Campus ministries
  • Choral groups
  • Dance
  • Drama/theater
  • International student organization
  • Jazz band
  • Literary magazine
  • Music ensembles
  • Opera
  • Radio station
  • Student government
  • Student newspaper
  • Student-run film society
  • Symphony orchestra
  • Yearbook
Air Force ROTC: No
Navy ROTC: No
Army ROTC: No
Did You Know?
  • The main thing you should know before coming to Swarthmore is that the students do speak English, but every student also knows how to speak "Swat." Swarthmore has a lot of abbreviations and learning them is the key to being able to communicate at Swarthmore. Study these abbreviations-Swarthmore students use them daily.
  • Scott Arboretum is a 357-acre arboretum on campus and is open to the public. The arboretum has more than 4,000 types of ornamental plants, and they are all labeled with their common and scientific names. Established in 1929 in honor of Arthur Hoyt Scott (class of 1895), the arboretum was created to allow Swarthmore to acquire and propagate the better kinds of living trees and shrubs, which are hard to cultivate and grow in the eastern Pennsylvania climate.

Student Polls

Rate the campus facilities in the following areas    Based on 34 responses

Very poor
  • Athletics/recreation
  • Classrooms
  • Computer labs
  • Dining
  • General aesthetics/architecture of campus
  • "Green" buildings/initiatives
  • Housing
  • Lawns/green space
  • Library
  • Modernity of facilities
  • Performing arts
  • Science/research labs
  • Student center
  • Study spots
  • Visual arts (work spaces, galleries)

What are your favorite campus events or traditions?    Based on 10 responses

  • 18% Primal Scream
  • 15% The Graduate
  • 15% Screw Your Roommate
  • 12% Mary Lyon's Halloween Party
  • 9% Collections
  • 6% Crum Regatta
  • 6% Crunk Fest
  • 6% Worthstock
  • 3% McCabe Mile
  • 3% Spring Fling
  • 3% Dash for Cash
  • 3% Willets Laundry Society Parties
  • 0% Madonna's "Like a Prayer"
  • 0% Sager

What are your favorite things to do around campus?    Based on 9 responses

  • 28% Study
  • 24% Hang out with friends
  • 14% Eat with friends at Sharples
  • 7% Cry
  • 7% Reply to surveys to procrastinate
  • 7% Go to Philly
  • 3% Lift
  • 3% Longboard
  • 3% Athletics
  • 3% Music (listening or playing)

How accommodating is this school to students with physical disabilities?    Based on 12 responses

  • 58% Very accommodating. The school does everything in their power to make sure the needs of every student are met.
  • 42% Pretty accommodating. The school has taken a lot of steps to accommodate the needs of students, but they've missed a few things.
  • 0% Slightly accommodating. The school has taken a few steps to accommodate students, but not nearly enough.
  • 0% Not accommodating. Students with physical disabilities are practically ignored here.

What is your overall opinion of your school and the campus community?    Based on 29 responses

  • 38% I love everything about my school and have a lot of campus pride.
  • 52% I like mostly everything about my school, but there are some things I wish were different.
  • 7% The school community is okay-we're all just here for an education, nothing more.
  • 3% I hate my school and have no school spirit.


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