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Evaluating the safety of our staff in a snowstorm

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

The snow piles up on the ground outside, finally beginning to slow, yet its remnants promise to keep the conditions for the day dangerous and uncertain. Branches and fallen trees block pathways in the borough, and some residential areas darken as a result of damaged power lines.

Meanwhile, on campus, students roam the college and desperately hope their classes will be cancelled. Some students walk up the path of Parrish Beach, trudging the path that the essential employees from the grounds crew worked to clear. As these Swatties entered Parrish, however, they may have been surprised to notice that, despite many essential staff members reporting to work, the administrative office hall was practically a ghost town. Many administrative members deemed the snowy conditions too severe to come to work, despite the fact that required staff, including many EVS workers, dining staff, and grounds workers, were required to report to work in spite of the storm.

We at the Phoenix find this unfair as it places an unequal burden on essential staff relative to the administration. While we recognize that many people could not make it to work due to the conditions and while we respect the need to practice safety precautions, it is absolutely unfair that many higher administrators did not have to report to work while many staff members were not given the same options to practice such precautions. These staff members were not allowed to follow these precautions despite the fact that they are not paid as high a salary as the deans, and many do not have as reliable winter transportation considering some depend on public transportation. We believe that it sends the wrong message to staff members in our community that that their safety is not as important as the safety of other employees. This is especially a problem in that it demonstrates a hierarchy of importance in the college that respects the decisions and safety of higher administration without equally respecting this integrity of other staff members.

Of course, we at the Phoenix recognize that some staff truly are essential to the maintenance of the college, and that it would have been nearly impossible to maintain the college without these employees. For example, some members of grounds crew were absolutely essential in ensuring that paths remained clear and, thanks tremendously to them, students were still able to roam the paths of campus and make it to their scheduled classes without trudging through inches of snow. Dining staff in Sharples, Essie’s, Kohlberg, and Science Center were needed so that students could still eat properly in spite of the storm. And to be fair, we at the Phoenix recognize that the college did not necessarily make all EVS staff report to work, but left it up to “relevant departments” to decide if all staff members were absolutely necessary.

However, we at the Phoenix believe this becomes an issue when all of these essential staff members are expected to report to work, yet many members of the administration and higher staff do not need to follow the same expectations. While some of the administration may work from home, it still does not change the fact that they are not standing in solidarity with the essential staff who have no choice but to report to work. Clearly, changes in college policy need to be made to ensure that these staff members are still respected and treated fairly amongst other members of the college community. As a result, we at the Phoenix call for Swarthmore to either increase their expectations of the administration and higher staff to report to work or that the required staff members who do report to work receive extra compensation and respect for their time.

 

Who Has the Power? My Journey into Swat Bureaucracy

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

Ever since the Board of Managers chose not to divest from fossil fuels, I’ve started envisioning the people “at the top” of the Swarthmore administration, who chose to ignore the strong student support of divestment. In my more dramatic moments, I imagined rows of white men in suits, all puppets of the fossil fuel industry, deliberately frustrating wide-eyed idealist students at every turn through heinous bureaucratic tricks. Basically, a combination of the Koch brothers and very unhelpful DMV employees.

That vision was very unfair of me; only half of the Board of Managers is composed of white men (take into account white women, though, and the Board is looking less diverse). Many are involved in philanthropy and nonprofit work.

But if the board isn’t all that bad, why did they avoid directly engaging with students? When student protesters moved to Kohlberg, where the Board of Managers planned to meet in the Scheueur Room, Dean Liz Braun heroically escorted the Board members into the room through the kitchen door, supposedly to avoid disturbing the protest. Call me a cynic, but I doubt they cared about disrupting the protest that much. Rather, I have a feeling they wanted to avoid the protesters (who were not, by any definition, a bloodthirsty bunch).

Searching through the managers’ biographies did not suggest any scandalous conflicts of interest that would explain the Board’s unwillingness to converse. A number of managers have worked for firms that the average noble, socially conscious Swattie would probably condemn — such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan —- and the members of the Investment Committee all work in finance, a number of them in private equity firms, but that is to be expected. I did find a potentially troubling connection through a non-Swarthmore publication; Chris Niemczewski ‘74, the Investment Committee’s chair, “is responsible for investing the endowment and finding external consultants and managers to invest and manage it;” he is also the president of the investment advisory firm Marshfield Associates, which Swarthmore paid almost $200,000 in investment management fees. One of Marshfield Associates’ major investments is in Deere and Devon Energy, a gas and petroleum producer. The Phoenix has previously noticed and discussed this possible conflict of interest. (http://swarthmorephoenix.com/2014/10/23/investment-committee-conflict-of-interest/).

It is worth noting that, before I started this research, I had no idea how powerful the Board of Managers truly is. I naively assumed that, since President Smith and the various deans were the ones from whom we got emails from and with whom we communicated, they were the people in charge. But it’s the Board that hires — and fires — the college’s presidents, that approves the Swarthmore budget, and that approves changes in salaries (http://swarthmorephoenix.com/2015/09/03/top-salaries-at-college-similar-to-those-at-peer-institutions/). Even in the Swat Bubble, money has power. President Smith inspires respect, even affection, in students. I was at the Mountain Justice sit-in, and appreciated that she took the effort to come and check on the students. I was less appreciative of the fact that she somewhat woodenly repeated the same line about the Board having made its decision. We’d like to think that Val calls the shots; but, ultimately, she seems to have little formal power with the managers.

Again, it’s unfair to generalize. The Board does have some diverse backgrounds, and I imagine there was some debate about divestment. Board Member David Singleton even came by the sit-in to engage with students, and admitted that divestment had proved effective in other colleges. Yet the managers as a whole proved unwilling to extend that debate to include students.

“We talk a lot about dialogue and critical thinking, and the Board wasn’t willing to engage with questions that are difficult,” points out Stephen O’Hanlon ‘17, a Mountain Justice coordinator. “[It’s] unacceptable that they aren’t engaging with something that was accepted by such a wide margin.”

In all the time I spent looking through the webpages for various Board committees, I did not feel as if the Board or the President’s Office was trying to hide shameful secrets or throw anyone off the track. From what I understand, Swarthmore is managed like an ordinary, not particularly corrupt private company. But maybe that’s the problem. We’re not just any private company, with shareholders and investors. Swarthmore’s very purpose is to “make its students more valuable human beings and more useful members of society…with a deep sense of ethical and social concern.” (Incidentally, I wasn’t aware one could become a more valuable human being).

In the world of private companies, presumably Swat students would be the equivalent of shareholders. But we won’t just be content with getting an end of they year report (or multiple emails from various offices, or a Self-Study Action Report that mentions the need for administrative transparency). We won’t just read the very bland short bios of the managers, and try to navigate the Board’s 11 committees through unhelpful webpages. Some Committees’ roles are not even explained — such as the Compensation Committee. Google has revealed that Compensation Committees decide salaries. Nothing specifies whose salaries, but I assume that this is the Committee of whom staff members would like to stay on the good side.

The Board proudly proclaims its commitment to Quaker values. Chief among these should be a willingness to fully include students in the decision-making process – to act by consensus, rather than avoid us. O’Hanlon worries that “there’s no formal way for students or faculty to influence the Board of Managers.”

The ultimately fruitless referendum seems to support O’Hanlon’s concerns. But Swat students have brains, passion, and a real commitment to changing things. In a few decades, some of us will be the next Board of Managers. Are we willing to speak out now, ask the Board for more transparency, more engagement with students, if not more inclusion in their decisions? Or will we also be sneaking in through the kitchen door 30 years from now?

 

(This article by a non-Swattie discusses the College’s endowment and investments, in addition to the one conflict of interest I may have found. It is definitely worth reading, at least to gain one outside perspective. http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/20150720_Richly_Endowed.html)

 

Pending Audit Results, Paces Cafe Slated to Reopen

in Around Campus/News by

Paces Cafe, which has been closed since the end of the fall 2016 semester due to an auditing process conducted by the Business Office to investigate Paces’ business practices, is expecting to reopen after spring break as a member of the OneCard Program.

According to Raffaella Luzi Stoutland ’17, the Head Director of Paces, this audit has been ongoing throughout the spring semester and will be completed by Feb. 27.

“[The audit is due to] issues the Business Office had with the handling of cash at Paces, with bookkeeping practices, and with receipt tracking. … [Paces] is basically undergoing some investigations into the practices currently, but more importantly, putting in processes that we can follow in the future,” Stoutland said.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Gregory Brown confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 15 that Paces is now currently on the right track of reopening.

“We had a very productive meeting [Monday] afternoon with the Paces leadership team, and I believe we’re on a good path to a successful re-opening of Paces later this semester,” said Brown.

The Paces staff has been working with the college administration since the end of last semester to work out the trajectory of the cafe. Stoutland met with Brown this Tuesday, and discussed future plans as well as the relation of the cafe to the Visioning Process Report of the college.

The report, released this month, asserts that “strategies will be implemented through capital planning projects” to help “inspire students to pursue their passions and provide support their efforts to achieve a reasonable equilibrium between academic and co-curricular pursuits.”

Stoutland elaborated on Paces’ plan of reopening after spring break.

“We’re looking at a tentative opening after spring break. We are reworking our financial and accounting procedures and we are hoping to set up some long term plans that integrate Paces into the Visioning Process of Swarthmore,” Stoutland said.

Part of these new financial procedures is the authorization of the use of OneCard at the cafe. To become part of the newly incorporated OneCard program this year, businesses must meet specific financial standards in order to be a part.

“Paces asked to join the program, and as a result of their request, we are completing a review of their business practices.  During the course of the review, we identified several areas of concern regarding the need to improve their business practices, and we are working with Paces to resolve the open issues,” said the Director of Auxiliary Services, Anthony Coschignano.

According to Coschignano, any merchant looking to join the program must undergo a successful review process, and agree to specific record-keeping and data security standards.

In order to meet these standards, Stoutland and the Paces leadership have been working with the OneCard office and administration to present business plans and financial projections. After a semester of screening, Paces will be accepting SwatPoints on OneCard in the near future.

“It looks like the only way we would open will be on OneCard without taking out any cash or credit … should we open after spring break, it will be on OneCard, and in the future, Paces will probably be accepting OneCard,” Stoutland said.

According to Stoutland, the administration has been supportive in the audit and the OneCard authorization, though sometimes effective communication has been lacking.

“It looks like Paces though should probably have more direction coming from dining services and OneCard and coming from the business office. So it’s not that we haven’t had support, I just think that the way that the support has been structured hasn’t always been the most productive … Mostly it’s just been miscommunications and circumvent[ive] communications … so the support is there, but it just really wasn’t reaching us,” said Stoutland.

As a member of the 2016 orientation committee, Luke Barbano ’18 suggested that students would want Paces to be on OneCard during their OneCard briefing, and he was surprised with the administration’s perplexing astonishment. As a frequenter of Paces, he also witnessed the tedious process that Paces had to go through to get the authorization.

The OneCard office has made Paces go in order to demonstrate its viability as a profitable enterprise (i.e. requesting seemingly endless revisions of business plans, countless budget proposals,  profit projections that were nearly impossible to make, etc.) It seemed like an unnecessary number of hoops to jump through given Paces’s seemingly low stakes (it’s not a multinational corporation) and the ease with which OneCard capabilities can be granted (I’m sure there’s some bureaucratic administrative red tape to deal with but it’s not rocket science),” wrote Barbano in his email.

Although Paces is an on-campus organization, its position on the OneCard will be with SwatPoints, the Points that are used in the Ville, rather than regular Points which are used at other on-campus dining options. This structural difference is because Paces is run by students rather than the college’s dining services.

“We are kinda in this weird limbo place where we are clearly part of the Swarthmore College [community], … but they’re sort of treating us like an outside partner of Swarthmore College,” Stoutland said.

Stoutland further explained Paces’ awkward position as a student-run business on campus and how that aspect has impacted on its OneCard authorization.

“We’re student-run, and in that sense, we aren’t part of the dining services, so we wouldn’t be part of the Points and meal points. We’ll be part of the new part of OneCard, but we’re also not exactly an established business, so there’s a lot of checks and balances they wanted us to go through that I don’t think the other businesses went through,” Stoutland said.  

Despite the long process of authorizing it, Stoutland believes that the OneCard is a good addition because it makes the business more accessible.

“[We] struggle to keep prices as low as possible, and much lower than they would’ve been in the normal market, because we really want people to have access to Paces, and OneCard is really the solution that no matter what someone’s personal finances are, they can still experience the space where all students should be experiencing, and the food is really good,” Stoutland said.

When asked about Paces’ next step, Stoutland was very optimistic and said the biggest focus for Paces’ right now was to reopen as soon as possible.

“We’re looking at what accounting practices we’re putting in place […] in terms of where we get our food and where we get our supplies, also sustainability practices, a lot of our stuff is compostable so we’re just double-checking that everything can be composted. Our main goal is to reopen as soon as possible this semester, like I said, soon still means probably weeks so, and then to figure out what it means for Paces to be open in the long term as well,” said Stoutland.

Luke Barbano believes that OneCard is also going to help Paces compete with other restaurants and cafes on campus and in the Ville with the growing competition with other restaurants and cafes on campus and in the Ville, since most of them already have OneCard.

“One only needs to look to the Ville merchants to see how OneCard has dramatically increased their business traffic. […] Given the student body’s widespread enthusiasm for Paces, the nearly excessive number of Points that accompany any of the currently offered meal plan options, the cafe’s convenience, and its charming novelty, it’s reasonable to expect that Paces would experience a similar boost in business. They will make a lot of money,” Barbano said.

After a nearly clear path to reopening, managers at Paces and some students see the cafe as a viable place of business and one for students to enjoy on campus given that the OneCard becomes a part of the cafe’s program.

Swarthmore freezes dormitories to save energy

in Columns/Opinions/Satire by

To keep up with Swarthmore’s commitment to being green and eco-friendly, Swarthmore announced Tuesday that it will leave dormitories without heating outside of the facilities department’s office hours. This announcement follows its declaration of Operation Cold War, which turned off hot waters for showers last December.

“We are trying to live up to our promise to become an eco-friendly institution,” said Olaf Snowman, facilities staff member. “We saved a lot of money when we turned off hot water in various dorms last year. We thought it would be a great idea to try something like that again, so we’re going to turn off the heaters in many dorms. But students should not worry at all! My lovely colleagues in the Worth Health Center will be there to help should students fall ill due to our commitment to eco-friendliness. Everything will be fine!”

Nicole McEskimo, another facilities staff member, expressed approval of this announcement, citing not only its positive environmental effects, but also its initiative to move the world toward a more “natural” state.

“Things like heaters are the number one things that move the human world farther away from the natural state of being in which the Earth was created upon,” McEskimo said. “When humans did not have any heaters, we braved the winter cold with just fire, a natural element of the Earth. Nowadays, not only are we using electricity to create fake heat, we are normalizing the use of this terrible, unnatural creation, which hinders the natural processes of Mother Nature. We must reduce use of such inventions to an absolute minimum.”

When asked if she ever turns on heaters at home, McEskimo started talking about her own experience living in a dormitory 40 years ago as a college student.

According to Dana Alice Kemp, Workbox staff member, part of this initiative’s goal is to teach students a lesson for complaining too much about the flaky heat systems.

“Students should feel grateful that they have heat in the first place,” Kemp said. “I think Swarthmore students need to learn to think more positively. Having heat is not a right. It is a privilege that is only given to those who deserve it. We want to show that we can always take it away if we feel like we should.”

Student anger was apparent as soon as the facilities department made this announcement. Residents of Wharton Hall, who still enjoy complimentary ice cold showers to this day, picketed  around the building demanding the administration immediately turn the heaters back on. Some students who have friends living in Strath Haven Condominiums or other off-campus housing resorted to camping out there, after reportedly having shiver attacks in their own rooms. The anger, however, was especially apparent among residents in Mary Lyons.

“Thank you, Swarthmore, for giving me another reason to hate my dorm,” said Brieanna Merry ’20, a resident of Mary Lyons. “I used to feel so relieved after I finally got to my dorm every day to some heat, because it actually made me feel like I was at home, like many people in ML feel. But instead, I now return to an igloo after nearly freezing to death outside. My roommate and I are thinking about creating a makeshift bonfire in the middle of our room. Maybe then, at least we will find out what being an Eskimo is like! How exciting is that! So thankful that Swarthmore is stretching itself to this extent to give me a true liberal arts education and hands-on learning! Can I get academic credit for this?”

The heater, according to the facilities staff, will remain turned off until the beginning of the summer.

Disclaimer: This article was written with a purely satirical purpose. All of the information presented in this article are thus false.

Bring back Paces Cafe and all that it represents

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

Our tagline, printed below the name of the paper on every issue and on our website, is “Swarthmore’s independent campus newspaper since 1881.” Although the specific stylings, voice, and reputation of the Phoenix change over time as Editorial Boards come and go, we have always been an independent, student-run organization. We are proud of this and as such, support the continued existence and autonomy of other independent, student-run organizations on campus. We believe that independent student-run organizations are a crucial part of the lessons in leadership, entrepreneurship, adaptability, self-sufficiency, and community-building that lie at the heart of the liberal arts education and constitutes the college’s mission. In conjunction with these beliefs, we at the Phoenix advocate for the prompt reopening of Paces Café with the capacity to accept payment via OneCard.

A Feb. 13 news article published by the Daily Gazette explains that while Paces prepared to begin accepting the OneCard in the near future, college staff audited the café’s finances, placing the future of the cafe in question pending the audit’s completion. While the Phoenix supports best practices for managing the finances of any student group on campus and advocates for transparency in any institution, the timing of this audit at such a critical point in the cafe’s history should not be accepted without question. College staff should have been more open to defining and delineating the college’s relationship with Paces Cafe before the situation reached the point at which Paces needed to be closed. If more conversation between Paces staff and the college had occurred, students who relied on their income from working at the cafe would still have a job.

While we at the Phoenix understand that college students should not operate with complete, unsupervised autonomy in all cases, we encourage the college to avoid reducing opportunities for students to work and benefit the community through independent activities. Opportunities for experiential learning, which many extracurricular and cocurricular activities offer, are directly in line with the College’s stated mission to train students to lead full, balanced lives as individuals and to live as responsible citizens through exacting intellectual study supplemented by a varied program of activities. Thus, the Phoenix encourages the preservation of spaces like Paces Cafe and the Student Budget Committee that heavily operate on and are shaped by students’ own operations.

We at the Phoenix also believe that being able to accept payment via OneCard is key to ensuring the future success of Paces. It seems clear that implementation of the OneCard program without including Paces was a significant factor in the financial difficulties Paces experienced over the last semester. Allowing Paces into the OneCard program without attaching extra administrative oversight from the college is an important step in not only allowing Paces to become increasingly self-sufficient but to make Paces more accessible to a diverse pool of students.

Party scene altered as fraternities receive sanctions

in Around Campus/News by

 

Correction: Article has been updated to state that Phi Psi cannot host parties with alcohol until the end of the 2017 fall semester. Article originally stated that the fraternity could only host parties at the end of the 2018 fall semester.

As a consequence of independent incidents involving violations of the Student Code of Conduct, alcohol, and social event management policies, both the Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon fraternities have been sanctioned to varying degrees by college administration. DU is on social probation until Feb. 9, and Phi Psi is suspended from all activities through 2017 with a social probationary period lasting until the end of 2018. The sanctions followed formal College Judiciary Committee hearings.

The closing of DU also involves separate renovations underway at the house. Eric Langan ’17, president of DU, further described the circumstances involving the shutdown of the fraternity for the next few weeks.

“Part of it is that we were undergoing renovations to the house to make the house more ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, and there was also a disciplinary issue … Basically, we went as an organization through the disciplinary process, and we are on social probation for about two and a half more weeks. Then, we will be back to full organizational operation,” he said.

During the probationary period set to the end of Feb. 9, DU can still conduct meetings, though it cannot host parties with alcohol. Additionally, the fraternity must develop a set of what Langan described as “best practices” to ensure that the incident that led to the CJC hearing cannot happen again. These “best practices” involve DU’s business practices as well as other campus social issues. The practices are to be set in correspondence with Assistant Director of the Office of Student Engagement and Greek Life Advisor Andrew Barclay, as well as Alcohol and Other-Drugs Counselor & Educator Josh Ellow.

That’s going to be an ongoing relationship. And, there’s going to be an educational seminar for all members of our organization that 90 percent of our brothers need to attend. Hopefully everyone comes, but it’s hard to get everyone in one place at one time. Attendance to that seminar is one of the disciplinary measures,” continued Langan.

If 90 percent of DU’s members do not show up to the first educational seminar to discuss DU’s best practices, there more seminars will be held until that 90 percent minimum is reached. Langan further explained that the fraternity expects to have a framework on the best practices by Feb. 9.

In regard to the fraternity’s overall relationship with administration, Langan believes that DU still maintains a good relationship.

“This is the first time that I would consider moderate sanctions being placed on DU, since I’ve been part of DU executive board. We’ve been in good standing with administration, and I believe we still are. It’s not uncommon for fraternities to go through disciplinary measures. I mean we’re a big organization, you know, obviously, it’s far from ideal. But, we’re ready to move past this and view it as a learning experience and opportunity for growth,” he explained.

Langan declined to comment on the specifics of the incident that led to the CJC hearing, though he did describe the situation as complicated.

As for Phi Psi, the fraternity received far more severe sanctions after a hard alcohol related incident during their “80’s Ski Lodge” party on Nov. 12 last semester. The fraternity was found in violation of the college’s alcohol and other drugs policies, which resulted in a suspension lasting 2017 and probation until 2018. According to Cole Fox ’17, the president of Phi Psi, the fraternity cannot conduct meetings, conduct community service, coordinate with the Title IX Office, or engage in campus outreach during its suspension. Phi Psi cannot hold parties with alcohol until the end of the fall 2017 semester, though can operate fully as an organization at the beginning of 2018.

According to the college’s student handbook, there is a clear distinction between suspension for a student group and probation. If a student or organization is suspended, they cannot engage in any activities associated with the college, whereas during probation, a student or organization can engage in various activities on campus with restrictions. The terms of probation are decided on individual cases, depending on the violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Fox later shared his dissatisfaction with the results from the CJC hearing.

“The CJC was handled according to the student handbook. Though underage drinking is a violation of school policy, we think it is unfair that we are consistently under scrutiny for a policy that is not unilaterally enforced, in any respects, across campus party spaces,” said Fox. He later confirmed that he believed the decision resulted from a series of Phi Psi related incidences prior.

CJC decisions can be appealed, and Phi Psi said they appealed to Dean of Students Liz Braun on the grounds that the imposed sanctions were grossly disproportionate to the violation committed. However, the fraternity was denied.

Unlike DU’s penalty, Phi Psi only has to meet with Josh Ellow once as a part of the process for any alcohol related sanction. Phi Psi also meets with Ellow once a semester, separate from their punishment.

The suspension of Phi Psi also works against the administration’s requests that Phi Psi develop their best practices as well.

“The administration has asked us to continue work on our best practices for event management and train the entirety of our membership, which is difficult when we are prohibited from congregating. The difficulty of enacting positive change without the ability to congregate was explicitly addressed in our appeal, which was denied,” said Fox.

The closing of both of the fraternities calls into question the future party landscape on campus. Both the presidents of Phi Psi and DU believe that there might be a decrease in the amount of parties in the coming weeks.

“Obviously there will be a reduction in party space capacity for the next year. We hope that the school will not further reduce this capacity with egregious punitive action towards other party hosting organizations or individuals,” said Fox.

Langan echoed similar concerns.

“There hasn’t been a fraternity party since November, and I was at Tarble last night at Pub Nite, and the line was almost out the door. And I guess that’s to be expected with the first Thursday back, but I think not having the two fraternity spaces functioning as social spaces for this period of time certainly puts a lot more stress on Paces and Olde Club,” said Langan.

However, Andrew Barclay did not share those same concerns about a possible decrease in registered parties on campus.

“Generally speaking, I expect to see an increase in events held on campus this spring. We’ve done a lot to simplify the college’s social event registration over the past semester.  These changes include a streamlined registration form, changes to the number of required hosts over the age of 21, and we’ve created additional resources to learn about the policies regarding events on campus,” said Barclay.

He later mentioned that there are two to four registered open events on an average weekend.

The Phoenix also reached out to members to NuWave, a group on campus dedicated to providing an alternative party space, for comment. The Phoenix was unable to reach representatives of NuWave.

As for a possible reduction in the amount of SwatTeam members needed to monitor parties, Aaliyah Dillion, SwatTeam Director, could not predict a possible decrease.

“The amount of events that SwatTeam members work always varies from week to week. So I cannot predict how the fraternities being closed will impact SwatTeam overall. Regardless, we will continue to serve the campus community as best as we can,” she said.

According to Fox, Barclay told him that while the Phi Psi house is not in use, the house will not be available as a party space for other student groups. When asked to corroborate this possibility, Barclay declined to comment.

Barclay concluded by saying that he will be emailing the community about further details about the fraternities after this article’s publication.  

College Begins MicroFridge Rentals

in Around Campus/News by

In a move to reduce some of the hassles and headaches of residential life, the Office of Student Engagement recently began a partnership with a microfridge rental company to offer microfridge rentals to students living on campus.

Beginning with the announcement “MOVE-IN day just got MUCH EASIER,”, the Office of Student Engagement’s page on the college website explains that the college established a partnership with MyMicroFridge, a fridge rental company, in the Fall 2016 semester that will continue into the foreseeable future. The page emphasizes that students must contact MyMicroFridge directly to set up a rental and includes a direct link to the company’s website. MyMicroFridge is a part of Campus Specialties, Inc., a company based in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. The company serves a substantial number of colleges and universities on the East Coast, including Temple University, Villanova University, Bowdoin College, and three University of North Carolina campuses.

The MyMicroFridge website indicates that Swarthmore students can either rent a microfridge for $199.99 per year or purchase one for $549.00. The microfridges feature a two-door refrigerator/freezer unit and a 0.6 cubic feet, 600-watt microwave oven with touchpad controls, thus the portmanteau “microfridge.” The website also boasts that the microfridge units are Energy Star rated, supposedly meaning they use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. In documents provided by Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Anthony Coschignano, it is explained that the sustainable nature of these microfridges is dye to their use of R600a (otherwise known as isobutane) as their primary refrigerant, instead of other common compounds used like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). According to thinkglobalgreen.org, both CFCs and HFCs are dangerous to the environment because of their contributions to global warming as greenhouse gases. Alternatively, R600a is a type of compound that is naturally occurring, low-GWP, non-toxic, low-cost fluids, whose environmental effects are fully understood, according to hydrocarbons21.com, an industry platform for hydrocarbon cooling and heating experts. According to the documents provided by Coschignano, end consumers save about 15 percent in energy costs when using fridges that use R600a  as a refrigerant. It is important to note that students at the college do not directly pay for energy costs, and so would not directly see these energy savings in their tuition or room and board costs.

The company’s website states that microfridges can be ordered in advance of three separate delivery dates — all of which have currently passed — either August 12, August 25, or September 7. The website also cautions that orders received after August 10th would be subject to a $40 late fee.

Contrary to popular belief, Coschigano said that the microfridge rental program was not restricted to first year students in its initial rollout. He believed that a message was sent out to each of the class years at the college, and worked through the Office of Student Engagement to advertise the new partnership.

“I thought it was being marketed to everybody,” Coschigano said. He did stress that his office was pushing particularly hard for first years to sign up for the rental program, because a large number of upperclassmen already had purchased fridges. In addition, he did not want to send a message that his office did not want students bringing back their previously purchased fridges.

Coschigano said that thirty students have signed up for the program at the time of printing.

“We really just wanted to see if students had an interest in the program. It really was just an add-on program, just something that we thought could be useful, [could] benefit students.”

Coschigano stressed that many of the changes in student services, including the new microfridge rental program, are designed to make students’ lives more convenient. He mentioned that he would like more students to participate in the program in the future, but there is currently no specific incentive from the college to increase the number of microfridge rentals.

The student reception to the new program has been generally positive. Alex Frost ’20, a student who rented a microfridge with her roommate, said the rental process was easy.

“Basically, I just put in my dorm information, like [my] room number and dorm online, and paid online. Then, on a date, they told me the fridge was going to come, [and] someone showed up at my dorm room door and had the fridge,” she said. Frost thought the cost was reasonable, especially considering that she split the cost with her roommate.

However, not all students felt the cost of the microfridge was reasonable. Ashley Mbah ’19 thought the steep rental price was not worth it, even though she recognized that the hassle of transportation was removed.

“I feel like it might appeal to wealthier students, but I don’t think this is a great idea considering the college already has fridges in every dorm as well,” Mbah said.

Bolu Fakoya ’17, who purchased a fridge himself at Target, did not think that he would rent a microfridge if he were a first year.

“[I] experienced a storage issue over the summer because there was no way I could take [the fridge] back home with me, so I can see why some folks would go for it for the rental aspect. But not personally for me,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the number of students renting microfridges will increase in future semesters.

College Examines its Spaces

in Around Campus/News by

The college is currently undergoing a strategic visioning process for physical space on campus. The process centers around analyzing the student experience to present guiding principles for how space is used on campus over the coming years.

“We are really trying to determine both what is the student experience at Swat and what should it be,” said Dean Liz Braun, part of the Senior Leadership of the visioning team. “That really focuses us on service delivery and for the purposes of thinking of the facilities on campus and how we prioritize renovations to improve the student experience as much as possible through space.”

Strategic visioning began last spring, with the goal of evaluating how space is currently being used and proposing ways it could be used in the future. The college hired Brightspot Strategies as an outside consultant to guide the process and give an outside evaluation of what the college should do with spaces on campus.

“What we really saw with them is that they are great facilitators of conversation,” said Vice President of Finance Greg Brown.

“In particular they aren’t facilitating with an agenda but they are facilitating based on what they are hearing and really working with us as an institution,” said Brown.

A central part of the process has been student input, related to studying, socializing, health and wellness, and dining spaces on campus. The Space Matters Committee, which leads the visioning process, contains a student advisory team, as well as faculty and staff members. In order to understand campus spaces and incorporate student input, the Brightspot Strategies consultants went on student-guided walking tours of campus and worked closely with the student advisory team.

Brown described some of the concrete ways in which the consultants teamed with students to get an understanding of campus space.

“[The] Space Matters committee had a separate meeting and were given homework from consultants where they have to take photos of different moments and areas of campus that relate back to the student experience and write up descriptors of what the space signifies to them or the activity.”

Two “visioning sessions” were held to get input from the campus community on how space is currently being used. The first session, held on August 30th, was for student input only, while the second session, held on August 31st, was open to the input of faculty and staff. Consultants explained the project’s goals before asking about how spaces are being used currently and how students think they should be constructed in the future.

Min Zhong ’19 shared her appreciation for the consultants’ work on the college’s project after attending the student session.

“I have good faith in the consultants,” said Zhong. “They seem like they were putting in their best effort to understand the culture at Swarthmore and what we need to really improve the student experience here.”

A key concern voiced by students was the lack of existing social spaces on campus outside of Sharples or a library, where socializing has to be mixed with either studying or eating.

“I think Swarthmore desperately needs some sort of student center recreational space where everyone can go to just hang out, relax, and meet new people. Right now, the social spaces are mainly dorm lounges and Sharples, which don’t exactly serve the purpose of integrating the whole student body.”

Throughout this process, the college is integrating data collected from various studies over the past couple of years. According to Braun, this includes looking at the results of last year’s campus-wide climate study, as well as a yearly senior student survey, a bi-yearly enrolled student survey, and an alumni survey. The goal is to hear reflections from as many students, faculty, and staff as possible to create the best possible plan for moving forward in the coming years.

“I think this is just such an exciting moment and really goes the heart of what I like to think of as my primary role, which is helping students think about how their out of classroom and in classroom experiences complement one another,” said Braun.

The strategic visioning will also serve to form a “master plan” for the college over the coming years, according to Braun. This will help the administration to decide how to best provide for the growing student body.

As well as looking at on-campus spaces, the visioning process is considering how increased student activity in the Ville will play out and affect campus life. Especially with the implementation of the OneCard system, student presence in the Ville is increasing. Brown expressed optimism about the benefits of integrating the borough and the student body, especially the area of student health and wellness.

“I think the borough and the college have mutual interest in making sure downtown is a viable destination,” he said. “You get so wrapped up in what you are doing and your own routines that if you have six or seven other choices down in the Ville for lunch or dinner it’s really a great way to kind of clear your head.”

Outside consultants will continue their work on campus for the remainder of the semester. The study will be concluded at the end of the semester. On October 17, a visioning session will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In this session, more concrete plans will be formed for space usage on campus. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to attend and stay for any length of time.

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