One of my favorite things about Swat, and something that made Swat really stand out to me during my admissions process, was the unique sense of humor. Maybe because there are so many nerds here or maybe just because Swatties like to laugh off the stress, but for whatever reason there is a general appreciation for witty humor here.
My first exposure to this humor was my junior year of high school when I got an email from Swarthmore College telling me that I should apply to the school. Usually, I would just glance at an email like that and discard it as one of the dozens of college emails I got every day. But this one was different; it was more informal, much less elitist, and actually had some humor to it. I don’t have the email any more, sadly, but I remember that it encouraged me to apply because sending in another college application was like adding an extra pickle to a burger. Kind of a weird metaphor, but also kind of funny.
The humor doesn’t stop once you get to Swat though. Every day, I go through the tunnel under the train tracks to get from my dorm (ML/Mary Lyons) to Sharples. And right on the side, before you go into the tunnel, is this little sign that says “Duck!” with a picture of a duck. It’s not the funniest thing ever, especially after you’ve seen it a couple hundred times, but it’s cute and it makes me smile when I see it.
Personally, one of my favorite sources of humor at Swat is the Psi Phi club (which, I’ll admit, I like to talk about A LOT). The club meets every Saturday night during dinner in Sharples and mostly consists of people just hanging out together talking about whatever random nerdy/geeky stuff we want to. One of the few things that consistently happens every week is the lottery.Once everyone is there, we go around the table and count off, until everyone has a number. Then, a random number generator picks someone to be the lottery winner for that week. They get a prize from whomever won the lottery the previous week. The catch? The prizes are supposed to be really silly/stupid/not something you would actually want to keep (although sometimes we keep them anyways…). For example, when I won the lottery, I was given an Altoids container with half an Altoid mint in it and a broken room card for a hotel that no longer exists. For the following meeting, I brought in a crumpled up piece of paper with “pineapple” written on it in Sharpie. Other prizes have included a hat full of acorns, a leaf, an airheads wrapper, and more. Part of the fun is getting to see what crazy ideas people come up with.
Swatties also tend to have a good sense of humor when it comes to making fun of ourselves and Swarthmore. For example, over winter break there was an article from Fox News that got shared in the Swarthmore Facebook group. In the article, which is about one of the courses being offered at Swarthmore next semester, someone is quoted as commenting, “If there were a list entitled, “Best Snowflake Colleges in America,” I am quite certain that Swarthmore College would be near the top of the list”. Of course, this could be taken as an insult by some, but instead, in true Swattie fashion, we decided to roll with it. So, of course, the top comment on the shared article was, “I sure as h*** did not come here just to be #2 Snowflake College in America.” Classic Swattie.
Whether it’s on a poster, in a club, or on the Facebook group page, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some witty humor from the Swatties here. And I think that’s one of the best parts about going to Swarthmore.
2 thoughts on “Swarthmore Humor”
Some things never change! Look up Peter Schickele, Swat ’57, for some classic nerd humor.
What a delightful entry to have written, Dana! It’s wonderful to know that you’re carrying on the tradition of Swarthmore humor––and of course I love the specific details you’ve provided!