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Swarthmore College Decision to Bring Military Scholars to Campus Treated as Controversial

Swarthmore College Decision to Bring Military Scholars to Campus Treated as Controversial

“I did not arrive at this decision easily, and I appreciate that it will disappoint if not anger some segment of our community”

This should not be seen as controversial at all. In her announcement, the college president nearly apologized.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

A Military Appointment at Swarthmore

Swarthmore College on Friday reaffirmed its partnership with the Chamberlain Project and therefore its commitment to hosting a military scholar, following months of internal debate.

“I did not arrive at this decision easily, and I appreciate that it will disappoint if not anger some segment of our community,” President Val Smith wrote in an all-campus message late in the day. “That would have been true had I decided to end the relationship. Respectful disagreement and dissent are essential to a well-functioning community.”

Amid the “myriad perspectives and absent any clear consensus, I ultimately drew from the college’s mission and my fundamental belief that critical to the liberal arts is our ability to engage in the exchange of diverse and often opposing views, not to shut them out,” Smith wrote. “I thought specifically of one of the college’s learning goals, created by our faculty, in which we commit to the following: ‘Students will engage with different cultures, ideas, institutions and means of expression to enable the critical examination of their own perspectives.’”

Many faculty members have supported Swarthmore’s partnership with the Chamberlain Project since it was officially announced in January. Among them is Dominic Tierney, professor of political science and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan think tank.

“I think this is a valuable educational opportunity for Swarthmore students,” Tierney said. “Yes, the military is in many ways a challenging or problematic institution. But I think the college has a long tradition of engaging with difficult institutions and trying to learn about them from the inside.”

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I once had a long discussion with a Liberal friend about the study of military history. Just the term revolted him and he truly believed that
the only possible reason for studying war was for love of murder.

I think I convinced him that there are other reasons. I led with, “So you think doctors study disease because they want people to get sick and die?” But I doubt it stuck. His head was deep in the Liberal Echo Chamber and the LEC hates even the word “military” passionately.

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