Cash-Free Campus

In light of the residual ramifications of COVID (cancelled plans and remote work), I’ve found myself inundated in an unceasing wave of ~family time~. The five of us spend most evenings sprawled out on our L-shaped sectional, alternating between “Dating Around” on Netflix and a recent kick of plant-based health films. However, we dedicated a special night recently to the release of the recorded Hamilton on Disney Plus, realizing our family-wide, shameless fanaticism for broadway productions. We all did see the production live in New York, but this recording captures the mastery of the original cast, who we were not lucky enough to see. One of the watershed moments in the show is Angelica’s revelation that she is in love with Alexander Hamilton, her little sister’s new husband (yikes) – culminating in an evocative number with powerful vocals and a sequence of innovative stage effects. Renée Elise Goldsberry easily has the best voice in the show (in my humble-not-qualified-by-any-means opinion), and elicited a jaw dropping reaction from my family after her main song “Satisfied.” This is when, in my smug, self-satisfied voice, I reminded my family for the millionth time:

“You know… I saw Renée Elise Goldsberry live at Swarthmore.”

A ~blurry~ Renée Elise Goldsberry at lang Concert Hall

As a way to support students, Swat is a “cash free campus.” The idea is that students’ own money or cash does not have to dictate their access to different resources or opportunities on campus. Attending events, talks, sports games or utilizing printing or laundry machines are included in the price of tuition. 

The fall of my first semester at Swarthmore, the school announced that Renée Elise Goldsberry would be performing live at our Lang Concert Hall and even coming to a “fireside chat” the night before that would allow students to meet her and ask her questions. Normally, to see her in concert or in Hamilton as the original Angelica Schuyler or in Rent as the last Mimi would be expensive. However, per “cash free campus,” the concert was free to all students. The performance was so popular that the school split the event into two nights, and Renée graciously performed two nights in a row for us. 

A popular usage of “cash free campus” that many students participate in is the annual spring concert, Worthstock. “Worthstock” is obviously a play on the iconic festival “Woodstock,” as it is an outdoor music festival in the courtyard of one of our dorms, Worth. Last year, the Worthstock committee secured performances from the rappers Buddy and JID. And this year, allegedly we were supposed to have Doja Cat, but this was cancelled due to COVID. Again, events like Worthstock do not require additional entrance fees to students – a way for the school to ensure that students’ respective resources do not inhibit them from participating in campus life. 

Worthstock 2019

In the end, even if you aren’t into concerts or Worthstock, every student has taken advantage of “cash free” in some shape or form. Most likely through free laundry or printing. Every week I read hundreds of pages of readings, and I don’t want to do the math if I were to have paid 10 cents per page. After being home for COVID, where my printer prints at the speed of -50 mph, I absolutely miss the perks of being on campus.

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