Last Saturday, both parties hosted by ENLACE and Phi Psi did not have SwatTeam members present. SwatTeam determines whether or not its members are required to work an event based on the attendance of the party and whether alcohol is being served. Shivani Chinnappan ’18 posted on the Swarthmore College Facebook group seeking SwatTeam members to work at parties that night.
SwatTeam serves as a liaison to Public Safety by carrying out safety measures at parties such as checking IDs, providing crowd control, regulating alcohol that is brought into parties or taken out, providing a safe walk to student’s residences upon the student’s request, and enforcing the end time for parties. Recently, SwatTeam has experienced a shortage of workers.
While ENLACE hosted an open party with no alcohol, so no SwatTeam members were required to be present. Phi Psi had to hold a closed party due to the lack of SwatTeam members working on Saturday.
Chinnappan, a SwatTeam member and a party host on Saturday, believes that the shortage of workers on Saturday specifically was due to the storm.
“[SwatTeam] put a call out for members to work on Friday but we were unaware of how many workers we would need because we didn’t know what parties would be occurring due to the power outage,” Chinnappan said. “On Saturday, we found out that a lot of people had withdrawn, so we told some groups that their party had to be closed.”
However, Chinnappan thinks that the shortage of workers this weekend was related to the more prevalent issue of not holding SwatTeam members accountable for working the shifts they have signed up for. Recently, the scarcity of SwatTeam members willing to work has been an obstacle for the organization.
“I can only speak for the past year, but there are lot of workers who will withdraw last minute,” Chinnappan said. “If you have a lot of people signed up to staff an event, someone might choose not to show up because they think somebody else will. We want to focus more on getting people who say they’re going to work to actually work.”
If there are a lack of SwatTeam members willing to work, organizations may not be able to hold open parties or serve alcohol at them. According to SwatTeam director Eli Kissman ’19 the number of SwatTeam workers that are required to work a party is determined by the size of the space and whether an alcohol permit was submitted.
“This number [of SwatTeam members working] is somewhat flexible but there is a general guideline for each space, which is based on the number of exits as well as the size of the space,” Kissman wrote in an e-mail. “We will increase the number of SwatTeam members working at a given event if we believe it will be more popular for any reason.”
A party can be shut down if there are too few SwatTeam members. This is determined based on the order that the alcohol permits were submitted.
According to Mark Hergenroeder ’19, president of Phi Psi, a closed party for the frat means that the party is limited to a smaller capacity than an open party.
“We [the brothers] check IDs at the door and manage a spreadsheet of attendance. The most salient difference is that we prefer to limit capacity,” Hergenroeder wrote in an e-mail. “It’s more challenging to ensure a safe party environment with larger capacities.”
Hergenroeder sees the lack of SwatTeam members as a persistent issue for organizations looking to host parties.
“I don’t like turning people away, but that’s the unfortunate consequence of being understaffed. We are happy to be flexible and help when possible, but it’s the third time this problem occurred despite having people who I’ve explicitly mentioned are willing to be trained,” Hergenroeder wrote. “This is confusing, unacceptable and unfair to every student organization who hosts.”
According to Hergenroeder, Phi Psi works with SwatTeam to take safety precautions before, during, and after parties.
“We follow the list of procedures outlined in the Student Handbook to host parties. We work with SwatTeam in a lot of ways. The most important thing is cultivating a genuine, trustful relationship with them,” Hergenroeder wrote. “Before the event we create a group chat with SwatTeam to ensure easy communication, we identify brothers designated at ‘Party Monitors’ who are additionally resources for them, and we routinely check in with Swat Team throughout the night to debrief.”
Kissman believes that the solution to having enough SwatTeam members to work parties is to hire more members.
“SwatTeam is not an easy job, which I think explains the low retention rate. You certainly cannot do your homework while working SwatTeam the way you can in some other jobs. We will hopefully alleviate the shortage of SwatTeam members by hiring new members,” Kissman wrote. “Ultimately if students want to party on this campus, there will be students working SwatTeam because SwatTeam is a requirement for open parties according to the student handbook.”
Regardless of whether SwatTeam hires more members or obtains more people to regularly work parties, the college will continue to require the presence of SwatTeam to ensure safety at parties.