We would like to briefly give voice to a consequence of the college’s new alcohol policy discussed in Bobby Zipp ’18’s January 22 article, “Alcohol-related hospitalizations, calls decrease.” The new alcohol policy has concentrated Swarthmore’s weekend social scene in the hands of the fraternities, and as queer and trans students we do not feel comfortable in these spaces. Last year, on any given weekend night we could enjoy a fun party with a positive, albeit disappointingly heterosexual, atmosphere. However, this year, there is rarely a bumping, non-frat party for us to attend other than Pub Nite. Whereas it was previously fairly easy and simple for groups other than the frats to secure permits and funding to host parties, the new alcohol policy has made this more difficult, and the social scene of Swarthmore relies upon the frat parties, which are funded by the dues the brothers pay each year. While it is still possible for us to secure funding for parties through crowdsourcing, sufficient and continued donations are beyond many students’ means. Many of us chose to attend Swarthmore specifically because it was a cash-free campus that believed in equal access to social life, regardless of income, but that no longer seems to be the case.
We will not try to argue against the existence of the frats on campus here, as that effort has proved to sap the energy of student activists without significant gains. But, considering that a number of students, particularly queer and trans students, do not feel comfortable in these spaces due to the frats’ track records regarding misogyny, homophobia, and sexual assault, we deem it important to bring our feelings of discomfort and exclusion to the attention of those responsible for creating these new policies.
We encourage Public Safety and the Swarthmore administration to consider the impact that the new college policy has had on the ability of queer and trans students to participate in campus life. We encourage Public Safety, the administration, and the student body to collaborate to make it more possible for parties to be hosted outside of the fraternities. A social scene in which students of gender and sexuality minorities feel they cannot participate is one that should not continue without major revision. A number of us were enticed to come to Swarthmore due to its reputation as a queer- and trans-inclusive space. This year’s social scene, a result of the new campus alcohol policies, has left us thoroughly disappointed in this regard.
Amit Schwalb ’17, Parker Murray ‘15, Priya Dieterich ‘18, Ian Holloway ‘17, Margaret Hughes ‘17, Tom Corbani ‘17, Gretchen Trupp ‘18, Gabe Benjamin ‘15, Peter Amadeo ‘15, Allison ‘16, Joyce Wu ‘15, Zoey Werbin ‘17