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Red tape causes vacuum in open party scene

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The first weekend of the semester saw party-goers, especially first-years, standing in line outside Delta Upsilon. This continued until the early hours of the morning, when they realized they would not get in and returned to their dorms. These long lines can be chalked up to a decrease in open parties on campus.

Various upperclassmen have attributed this void in the party scene to the stringent policies enforced by the administration that make hosting open parties very troublesome. Before being allowed to host events, hosts have to receive comprehensive training from Andrew Barclay, assistant director of student activities and leadership, among other event registration processes.

“Being someone who has worked extensively with Andrew Barclay to discuss the party scene situation, I blame the void on excessive red tape associated with throwing a party. The party hosts take on all of the party’s liability. As a party host, you are required to monitor the party space closely and remain sober the entire time. In addition, one of the party hosts must be [at least] 21 years old. These rules make it more difficult to throw parties and put more responsibility on the shoulders of the hosts, which is stressful and annoying,” said Vice President of Phi Psi Jack Ryan ’18. Phi Psi is currently under suspension and cannot throw parties until the end of this semester.

Barclay stresses both the importance of hosts being trained to provide a fun, safe inclusive party experience and the safety of guests while attending open events. While training is mandatory for hosts, he voiced his support for events like ‘Party Like A Swattie’ and discussed ways in which to party safer.

“We also work directly with hosts leading up to events to ensure they are supported and have what they need to make their event a success. Beyond the work that I do with hosts, I consider event safety a shared responsibility between hosts and guests.  Both are critical towards providing a safe and inclusive environment,” Barclay said.

With these guidelines, there have been a limited number of open parties on campus. Delta Upsilon has been operational every Thursday and Saturday night since the start of the semester, and fraternity members have taken notice of the long lines forming outside their house on those evenings.

“We’ve had really long lines, and I’ve had friends telling me that they’ve just waited in line for 30 minutes and haven’t been able to get in. Usually Phi Psi and DU share the capacity,” said social chair of DU Dimitri Kondelis ’20.

Dimitri believes queues outside DU parties are impacted by rules and regulations regarding the number of people allowed to be present in the house at a given time.

“SwatTeam limits how many people we can let in and regulates the party space. If they think there [are] too many people, they won’t let anybody in, so we can’t really do anything about that,”  Kondelis said.

SwatTeam, too, has their hands tied. SwatTeam Manager Layla Hazaineh ’20 mentioned that each building has a maximum number of people that can be accommodated in accordance with various safety procedures. According to Hazaineh, SwatTeam merely adheres to these restrictions by regulating the number of people in party venues.

NuWave, an organization that aims to provide party alternatives to the fraternities, also hosts weekend parties that are an option for students. On Sept. 9, the same night as DU’s “Disorientation” party, NuWave hosted the “Class of 2021’s 1st Birthday,” which they believe was very well attended.

“There were way too many people looking for parties — it was a combination of people who didn’t like the frat parties and were looking for another place to party on campus, combined with the fact that the party space at the frat got slashed in half that created this whole almost pressure to create other parties so that people could go out,” said Roberto Jimenez ’18, a member of NuWave.

This year, with more than half of their executive board studying abroad, NuWave is in the process of recruiting new members to help plan future parties.

“I think there will be some form of recruiting for new members, especially from the freshmen. I think once that gets figured out, there will be a little more organization, and we’ll be able to throw a lot more events,” Jimenez said.

With few open parties to attend, people are resorting to throwing private parties in their rooms — a situation that can potentially pose a higher risk for both students and the administration.  

“I think the administration should prefer to have the drinking … where they can regulate it, instead of indoors where students think they’re safer. But it’s not actually as safe as there’s no one looking out for them and no one knows how much they’re drinking,” said Izzy McClean ’20.

These sentiments were echoed by Ryan as well, who felt that students found it easier to throw unofficial parties in their dorm rooms instead of jumping through hoops to get the required permissions to host official open parties.

“I believe that the increased regulations have made the costs of throwing parties outweigh the benefits. Public Safety doesn’t let partygoers play water pong anymore. There is just too much scrutiny over the parties that it makes it more work than it’s worth,” said Ryan, who believes that the college should put more trust in the student body to make good decisions.

“Swarthmore used to rely on the maturity of the students to throw responsible parties, and it feels like we are no longer being treated with such liberty,” he said.

Administration has not heard feedback on the issue, but is willing to listen to student concerns.

“I have not received any feedback that students are taxed by hosting responsibilities, but I am always open to hearing feedback about how I can better support students having safe parties that meet the expectations outlined in the student handbook. If hosts are following those expectations they greatly minimize any liability when hosting events on campus,” said Barclay.

Despite the crowds these past weekends, some first-years seemed to have learned how to have a good night out on campus.

“Just get there a bit earlier because the lines aren’t as long,” said Oliver Tennenbaum ’21.

           The conversation around party scenes will continue until the students and the administration reach a consensus on how events should be regulated.

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