Students at Haverford College ended their boycott of classes and campus jobs Thursday, after two weeks of striking and demanding that college leaders commit to a set of antiracist initiatives and changes to improve the experience of students of color.
The organizers of the strike, members of campus organizations that advocate for students of color, decided to call off the strike due to a majority of the group’s 14 demands being met by administrators, said an email sent by organizers to the student body.
“This is, in every sense, barely the beginning of the work,” the email said. “Haverford was created to serve a specific population and perpetuate structural inequality, which we have done our best to start to address … The call to action, in many of our lifetimes, has never been as powerful as it is now and what we choose to contribute and sacrifice for this ongoing movement, and the many coinciding movements like it, will be what defines our stories.”
Their achievements include monetary commitments from the college, including $75,000 dedicated to antibias training for faculty and staff members over the next two years and another $75,000 toward renovating the college’s Black Cultural Center and developing a new Latinx Center, Chris Mills, assistant vice president for college communications, said in an email.
Haverford also adopted a pass/fail grading model for the fall semester for all students, in response to a demand from organizers that students of color, first-generation and low-income students be given “academic leniency” due to the traumatic impact of COVID-19 and police violence in communities of color, according to a spreadsheet from the college that outlines the commitments. But the college did tell faculty members who halted classes for the strike that they will need to meet the mandatory 39-hour instruction requirement for each of their courses, Mills wrote.
The college will create an accountability group of students, faculty and staff members, and “outside experts” who will track Haverford leaders’ progress on the antiracism commitments, Mills wrote. A college website dedicated to antiracism resources also provides documentation and a timeline of the strike, he wrote. Wendy Raymond, president of Haverford, said in a campuswide email Wednesday that the strike has “brought forward the beginnings of a powerful roadmap for action toward racial justice.”
“May we learn from our own history that our pursuit of racial equity at Haverford has no endpoint and can brook no complacency,” the email said. “This journey requires continual effort, creativity, and vigilance.”
Students at Bryn Mawr College, Haverford’s sister college, are still continuing their parallel strike against the college for antiracism commitments, a student organizer from the college said in an email. However, many professors have resumed classes to avoid falling under instruction hour requirements, the student wrote.