Quakerliness in Motion

Quaker and non-Quaker students at Haverford’s Quaker Community retreat to Snipes Farm, Fall 2013.  The retreat included fellowship, singing around a campfire, sustainable food, and community service.

Part of what drew me to Haverford when I was going through college applications was the school’s long-standing connection to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). A bit of history: Haverford, founded nearly 200 years ago in 1833, was the very first in a long line of colleges started by Quakers.  Other schools started by Quakers include Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Earlham College, Whittier College and Johns Hopkins University.  Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C., where the Obama family’s children are currently enrolled, was founded by Quakers in 1883 and remains Quaker to this day (in fact, students attend a weekly meeting for worship).

Quakers have long been involved in education, but there just aren’t too many Quakers in Colorado (which is where I’m from).  Only approximately 350 of the over 75,000 Quakers in the United States attend my regional Quaker gathering in the Rocky Mountain region.  Haverford offered me a place tobe rigorously challenged academically in a setting that is firmly rooted in the secular Quaker values of integrity, community, and equality.  And now that I’ve been here for well over a year, I can definitely say that it was worth the journey.

To me, interacting with Haverford’s Quaker roots is about more than just agreeing with a set of values.  It is my opinion that integrity, community, and equality are more valuable if used to strive for justice and harmony in the world.  This is where Haverford’s Quaker elements really shine through: we actively engage with issues of global injustice on a regular basis.  Just last month, our director or Quaker Affairs, Walter Sullivan (who graduated from Haverford in 1982), led Haverford students to Pittsburgh to protest PNC Bank’s funding of environmentally unfriendly coal mining methods.  This month, a group of students including myself plan to make a trip to Washington D.C. to lobby congress with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) for decreasing budgeted military spending in favor of greater funding for education and other civic needs.  This will be the second time in 2013 that a delegation of Haverford students has gone to lobby with FCNL.  Last Spring, Haverford students joined Haverford-alumni interns at FCNL to lobby for a bill to incentivize carbon emission cuts.

Haverford students and Haverford alumni at the FCNL Spring Lobby Day 2013.

Lobby work with FCNL and environmental activism are just two examples of what I like to call ‘Quakerliness’ in motion.  Service and stewardship happen on a regular basis among the students at Haverford.  As a co-clerk of the student Quaker Community on campus, I’m fortunate in that I get to help students find outlets for their desire to take action for social justice and put our Quaker values into use.