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Pub Nite survives for another semester

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For many past and present students, Thursday nights at Swarthmore College are known for Pub Nite.

“Historically, the officers would charge $4 at the door every week, but when the alcohol policies went under change [several years ago], we weren’t able to do this anymore. Since then, it’s been a fundraising effort,” said Shivani Chinnappan ’18, an officer of Pub Nite.

Although the process is difficult, Chinnappan explained the relative success the officers have had this fall semester. For instance, Chinnappan said it takes around $3000 to host Pub Nite for an entire semester, and this semester she and the other officers were able to successfully raise $2,423.

“We held the dry pub fundraiser at the beginning of the year [which] raised $560. Most of our other money came from people buying tables at $250 each” said Chinnappan.

“The average night costs around $135 – $140 for the kegs. Right now, we have enough in the fund to last until the second to last or third to last night [of the fall semester],” said Chinnappan.

However, Pub Nite officers’ success is hard to replicate on a consistent basis. This was exemplified in the spring of 2017, when there was a lack of available funds and there was concern about being able to keep the tradition running. The Pub Nite team of the spring semester of 2017 were only able to raise $1,716 through their gofundme page. They failed to hit their target of $3,000 by $1,284. Aidan Stoddard ’20, an avid Pub Nite goer, recalled that spring semester.

“We would get many emails and Facebook notifications asking us to donate to keep Pub Nite alive,” said Stoddard.

After many notifications from the Pub Nite officers, Stoddard felt overwhelmed, but he understood the need for these constant requests.

“I do really appreciate the officers’ efforts in making sure Pub Nite is running smoothly, but I did end up getting sick of requests for donations. But most importantly, as long as the officers can do their job to make sure Pub Nite takes place, I cannot ask for more and will be very content.”

Joey Bradley ’20 also expressed his discontent toward the large number of emails, but noted a change from last semester.

“I don’t think I’ve seen any of these emails and Facebook notifications [this fall 2017 semester],” said Bradley.

“If Pub Nite can have a couple big fundraising efforts rather than sending constant reminders to donate, I think a lot of students will be willing to donate more. What the officers did this year is impressive, and I want to thank them for their hard work. Thursday nights are what keeps me going throughout the first part of the week. It’s a little taste of what Saturday will be that week,” said Bradley.

For future fundraising, Chinnappan expressed her desire to repeat the same process as this fall semester since it was so successful.

“We’re definitely going to do another fundraiser like dry pub at the beginning of next semester.  We also floated the idea of selling tshirts…. I think in order for the funds to sustain from now on it will be on the officers to organize fundraising events like that rather than just wait for people to donate to the gofundme,” said Chinnappan.

Harry Leeser ’18, one of Pub Nite’s organizers,  believes that the future of the tradition is about maintaining its presence on campus.

“There will be really great weeks, and some kinda low key, not too crazy weeks at Pub, but, assuming people at Swarthmore keep going out on Thursdays and remain willing to support the institution of Pub Nite, it should be here to stay,” Leezer said.

The officers of Pub Nite are working to raise enough money for the semester to keep Pub Nite one of Swarthmore College’s favorite traditions. However, the work to preserving Pub Nite requires effort from both officers and students.

Events at Disorientation spur reflection on drinking culture

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During this year’s first party weekend, known as “Disorientation,” five college students were hospitalized due to intoxication and cited for underage drinking. In addition, according to Public Safety director Mike Hill, four other alcohol-related incidents occurred on the night of, Sept. 3. The number of alcohol-related incidents during the annual Disorientation weekend has risen from four in 2012 to nine in 2017, an increase of five over five years.

The college has a medical amnesty policy in place that states that “neither the student in need nor the student or student organization requesting assistance will ordinarily be subject to disciplinary action” for a violation of the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) policy.

“This policy is specifically intended to support getting students to call for help,” Hill said in an email.

However, under Pennsylvania state law, any student transported to the hospital in an ambulance will automatically be cited for underage drinking, a charge that typically requires completing 30 hours of community service, paying a fine of $150 to $750, taking alcohol education classes, and complying with a 60-day driver’s license suspension. The charge will remain visible on a background check and cannot be expunged without going before a judge.

Many students have related recent increases in alcohol-related incidents to policy banning hard liquor from registered parties, which was enacted in 2014. Tyrone Clay ’18, who attended an 80-person pregame on Sept. 9, feels that the rule has caused drinking at the college has become more dangerous.

“The heavy pregame culture is directly related to hard liquor rule,” Clay said. “You can overdo it and end up too drunk.”

Clay feels that AOD policies and recent incidents reflect a “crisis of culture” in the college community.

“It’s very difficult to be both intellectually driven yet expected not to have fun in a traditional way,” he said.

According to Josh Ellow, the college’s AOD counselor, the ban of hard liquor at parties exists to slow down consumption of alcohol, because the act of drinking beer takes longer than downing a shot or sucking down a sugary mixed drink.

“I think the thought [concerning the policy] was, ‘hard alcohol is more risky because of its strength.’ The majority of the time that somebody goes to the hospital, when I talk with them and ask them, ‘What did you drink,’ usually shots are involved in the night,” Ellow said.

According to Willets resident Luke Pietrantonio ’21, because consumption of hard liquor does not occur at parties, students tend to consume it beforehand instead.

“Not having liquor at frats and at public, open parties is smart, but I think it also encourages pregaming and stuff like that,” Pietrantonio said.

According to the College’s AOD policy, any event with over 10 people, even in a dorm room, needs a permit as a registered event. Many pregames on campus, such as the one that Clay attended, involve as many people as frat parties. Despite this, because hard liquor cannot be present at registered events, hosts of pregames often do not obtain permits. Clay, who felt that he was able to regulate the amount of alcohol consumed by underclassmen attending his pregame, wants PubSafe to give out permits for pregames that involve hard alcohol.

“They should encourage pregames hosted by upperclassmen [and] have event registration for pregames. PubSafe would be there to regulate,” Clay said.

Ellow also feels that more registered pregames could facilitate safer drinking practices.

“I think if you required people to register pregames, I would think it would make people hopefully be more aware of what they’re doing, because they know that the school would be monitoring in some way,” Ellow said. “That’s the whole point of a registered party: they want to allocate resources like Swat Team.”

However, according to Ellow, it may be difficult to get students to register pregames with the current AOD policy.

“I wonder if that registered pregame would require no [hard] alcohol like we require at parties, if people wouldn’t register anyway,” Ellow said.

While Ellow also acknowledged that the hard liquor policy encourages pregaming in dorms, he feels that students are as safe drinking hard liquor at a pregame as they are at a party as long as they’re together.

“In my eyes, anytime people are around people that could potentially respond to an emergency, it’s a good thing, and I think most of the time, that happens,” Ellow said.

Though administrative policies are sometimes viewed as causing issues in the college’s drinking culture, Ellow feels that the issue is more about a lack of communication about student expectations of drinking culture.

“People know [policy] is there, but it’s not always enough to be the driving force,” Ellow said. “But I do think policy is important. I think that, you know, why have it if we’re not gonna follow it?  It’s a challenge though, because I think we hear ‘no hard alcohol at parties,’ but it’s still so prevalent elsewhere. But I know sometimes it is like that, when students are like, ‘Here’s the policy, but this is how we really do it.’ It can really divide people and take us away from the community feel that we want to have.”

Willets residence hall is one of the most popular spots on campus for pregames. Seven of the nine total alcohol-related incidents and four out of five hospitalizations to which PubSafe responded on Sept. 9 occurred there. Large pregames also often occur in Worth hall, but many more underage students tend to live in Willets than in Worth because Worth is an upperclassman-only residence hall. Because of the amount of underage drinking incidents that have occurred there, PubSafe has been monitoring parties and hangouts at Willets closely this year.

“It might have been last weekend or two weekends ago when I was just walking through Willets and people were literally playing water pong, like they didn’t have any alcohol or anything at all. They were just hanging out in one room, didn’t even have 10 people and PubSafe came and shut that down, which was really weird,” Pietrantonio said.

Ellow believes that the the social dynamic behind alcohol consumption, rather than pregaming in and of itself, can explain the amount of incidents at Willets that night.

“It’s not so much peer pressure, but it’s just people thinking, ‘This is what everybody does,’” Ellow said. “There’s also this weird self-fulfilling prophecy; it’s weird how expectations work with alcohol. You know, if people expect Willets to be this place where they can just do whatever and get crazy, the alcohol’s going to be symbolic for that.”

Pietrantonio shared a similar sentiment about the overconsumption of alcohol at Willets on Sept. 9.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily people trying to live up to the reputation of Willets almost or if it’s kind of like a herd mentality type thing in Willets.”

However, Pietrantonio couldn’t pin the cause of the hospitalizations to pregaming at Willets.

“The people that I was with, which was a good chunk of people at Willets, weren’t pregaming by any means,” Pietrantonio said. “[The hospitalizations] kind of seemed a little atypical and just a little weird given that it was just people hanging out, casually drinking. People weren’t really taking tons of shots.”

Instead, Pietrantonio feels that the incidents stemmed from hype around Disorientation and the scale of events that night.

“I think part of it had to do, definitely, with it being the first weekend,” he said. “And from what I understand from some of the upperclassmen, there are certain weekends throughout the year that are like this, like they were saying Halloween, Worthstock, all that kind of stuff.”

A Swassip Girl article in a 2015 issue of the Phoenix also addressed the tradition of students expecting to party heavily at Disorientation.

“Disorientation represents one of the few endeavors by Swatties to map our perceptions of Real College Parties onto our quaint, nerdy, liberal arts surroundings,” Samantha Herron ’18 wrote. “It’s an attempt made in order to prove that Swarthmore goes as hard as you convinced yourself it would when you decided to go here.”

According to Pietrantonio, the party culture at Swarthmore was more active than he had expected.

“Going into Swarthmore … obviously I’d heard the reputation that it’s not a big party campus [but] with stuff like Disorientation, that has shifted my view a little bit,” Pietrantonio said.

Some feel that students should take it upon themselves to fix safety issues and other issues inherent in Swarthmore party culture through community discourse.

“Safety is a shared responsibility and we have to work together to make sure we all stay safe,” Hill wrote in an email. “There needs to be a conversation around personal responsibility, both for the individuals consuming and for those providing alcoholic beverages.”

As part of this conversation, the Delta Upsilon fraternity jointly held an event called ‘So you think you can party like a Swattie’ with Ellow, OSE director Andrew Barclay, Title IX director Nina Harris, interim Title IX fellow Raven Bennett and Pubnite officers to educate students about resources and solutions for AOD and consent issues, from Swat Team (formerly known as Quaker Bouncers) to the 4 D’s of intervention, as well as some of the unspoken conventions of Swat party culture.

“We as upperclassmen definitely have a culture of feeling okay with using our resources and we want to extend that, make it [known] at Swat,” PubNite officer and OSE intern Shivani Chinnapan ’18 said. “We want to talk about the problem before it becomes one.”

Both the PubNite officers and the DU representatives wanted to convey the message that the most important consideration when having a party is safety and that they have multiple options for reporting safety issues and using AOD resources at the College.

“Amongst younger students, there’s this fear of authority … when it comes to alcohol. No one is trying to get you in trouble, because the only real trouble is you being unsafe,” Chinnapan said.

DU risk manager Charles Kuchenbrod mentioned that fraternity brothers move their kegs downstairs at 11:30 p.m. so that people dancing have to consider walking downstairs to get more drinks, which typically discourages them from overconsuming.

“I am invested to make sure [the DU house] stays a good space,” Kuchenbrod said. “Saturday nights, we have a group of brothers walking around with glowsticks. By talking to us [before Swat Team or PubSafe], you’re giving us the ability to take a more measured approach [to safety].”

Next year, the OSE, PubNite, DU, and Ellow plan to hold a student panel similar to the one of the “So you think you can party like a Swattie” event during orientation instead of in September. While Pietrantonio feels that orientation information sessions can sometimes risk being overlooked because of how overwhelmed first-years are during those times, he supports the idea of upperclassmen addressing party culture issues that go outside of AOD policy.

“Maybe having upperclassmen on campus during orientation just to kind of help kids not like learn how to party but [learn] how to just be safe and know what their limits are, obviously if you’re at a pregame and you don’t know what is the right level for you, it’s easy to go over and then you have a problem on your hands,” Pietrantonio said.

“In some different setting, kind of looking at what a productive party culture is, or a safe party culture, rather than just being like ‘don’t drink.’”

Though students have voiced complaints about the college’s AOD policy, Ellow asserts that their policy leaves room for students to safely enjoy parties by, for example, only banning hard alcohol at registered parties and not prohibiting it completely.

“The college recognizes that alcohol in and of itself shouldn’t be demonized,” Ellow said.

As long as Swarthmore remains a college, students will continue to throw parties, and student and faculty discourse will continue to flow around how best to facilitate a healthy and safe party culture.

“Throw a party with the intention of it to be a good time,” Ellow said. “A good time should always be about more than just a drink.”

 

Confusion surrounds dry week, despite no change

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This year’s dry week was surrounded by confusion, despite the fact that the policy regarding alcohol during orientation did not change from recent years.

Many students were under the impression that “dry week” meant that the consumption of alcohol is not permitted by anyone during orientation. In fact, the policy, according to the student handbook, stipulates that alcoholic beverages may not be served at parties or other events that take place during orientation (as well as during vacation periods, reading days, and finals periods). Students may not register parties or events with alcohol permits until the first Saturday after classes begin each semester. This policy has remained unchanged for many years and was noted in the student handbook this year, said Assistant Dean and Director of Student Engagement Rachel Head said via email.

Several seniors confirmed, however, that their Resident Assistants had told them that they were not permitted to consume alcohol at all until the first Saturday. Head said that the Dean’s office had sought to clear up this information.

“I think there was some initial confusion within the RA group and the early returns about the difference between having an event and having an event where alcohol is present that requires a party permit,” Head said. “Once we became aware of the confusion, we worked to give the RAs clarifying information.”

The college handbook defines parties as social functions where alcohol may be served — according to alcohol permit rules — in a designated campus party space with more than ten students present. According to the handbook, this does not seem to apply to private events held with fewer than ten students in non-party spaces.

Many students felt that dry week lasted longer this year than in previous years, even though this was not the case. Head attributed some of this impression to the lengthy early return period.

“We try and be as flexible as possible with students who need to return early for college-sponsored reasons, such as UPenn classes, faculty research, fall athletics, etc.,” Head said. “Because we’re flexible on the date, some upperclass students arrive up to two weeks early and it might feel as though the substance-free period is several weeks long when, in fact, it is only until the first Saturday.”

Typically the first week of classes also includes a dry Pub Nite where students drink root beer rather than the usual Pub Nite beverage. This event did not take place this year.

Students were still permitted to hold all-campus events, such as the Wharton courtyard party on the Friday of the first week of classes. Party organizers said that no alcohol was served or present, and that they had spoken with Public Safety, the Office of Student Engagement, and RAs in order to hold the event but that they had not secured any sort of party permit.

“The students who initiated the Wharton event on Friday requested use of that space for a dry event, which we granted,” Head said.

It also appeared that at least some students consumed alcohol publicly during dry week. On the Sunday before classes began, Public Safety entered Sharples during dinner time and confiscated hard alcohol from a group of students. One of the students was written up by Public Safety and required to speak to Joshua Ellow, the college’s alcohol and other drugs counselor.

Head explained that the rationale behind the dry-week policy is partially logistical, as it takes a few days for SwatTeam to get organized, the RA-on-call schedule to be established, and for the traditional event resources to get up and running.

“We’ve found that by the time Welcome Weekend concludes, usually right after the student activities fair, students are ready to begin planning and hosting events,” Head said.

The policy also helps to smooth first-years’ transition to the college, Head explained.

“We think it is important to support an environment for first-years to adjust to campus without alcohol and drugs playing a role in that adjustment,” she said.

Dartmouth to ban hard alcohol, pledging process

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Dartmouth College will ban hard liquor, end pledging at fraternities and sororities, and institute a mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention program at the beginning of next year. Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon announced the planned changes in a speech to the community last month.

Last spring, Dartmouth was thrust into the national spotlight after a number of student protests and allegations of hazing and violations of the Title IX and the Clery Act. Often raised in the explosion of media coverage was the strong presence of Greek life on Dartmouth’s campus. As of winter 2014, 51 percent of the college’s undergraduates were members of Greek organizations. Dartmouth’s fraternities in particular have an extensive history of hazing and alcohol abuse and have been the subject of numerous police raids and allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

Beginning next fall, “Dartmouth will take the lead among colleges and universities in eliminating hard alcohol on campus,” Hanlon wrote on the college website. The new policy will prohibit the possession or consumption of alcohol that is 30 proof or higher on campus by all individuals, including those over the legal drinking age, and by college-recognized organizations. The policy will also stipulate that the entire community refrain from serving hard alcohol at college-sponsored events.

Additionally, next fall, the college “will require all student organizations to eliminate the pledge or probationary periods during which members have a lesser status,” the president’s website clarified. “Moving forward, student organizations will be held to a much higher standard than they have been in the past,” Hanlon wrote.

A comprehensive and mandatory four-year sexual violence prevention and education program will begin next year as well, along with a first-responder training program for faculty and staff. The college will also create an online “Consent Manual” which aims to “reduce ambiguity about what is acceptable and what is not,” planned for publication by the end of this summer.

Swarthmore changed its own alcohol policy in late August. In an email to the community, Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development Lili Rodriguez announced a number of changes to the policy, including a ban on hard alcohol at registered campus events as well as on drinking games and drinking paraphernalia.

Students were mainly concerned that the new policy would lead to higher instances of unsafe binge drinking at pregames, though the number of alcohol-related visits to Worth Health Center decreased from the spring of 2013 to the fall of 2014, as did the number of alcohol-related incidents to which Public Safety responded.

For the most part, the bans in Swarthmore’s new policy have not been strictly enforced — students have continued to consume hard alcohol and play drinking games — but the largest change has come in the shift in party culture on campus. As it is now much more difficult for clubs and organizations to fund alcohol at parties, the number of parties has decreased, and most alcohol-related social activity now takes place at Pub Nite or at the fraternities.

Dartmouth is one of just a handful of schools to ban hard alcohol completely, including Bowdoin College and Colby College. In news coverage, students at both Bowdoin and Colby in general seemed to agree that most students ignore the bans, much like at Swarthmore.

Dartmouth community members’ concerns about the new alcohol policy echoed those of Swarthmore students following the changes to the Swarthmore policy. Some at Dartmouth called the enforceability of the college’s ban on hard alcohol into question and wondered whether the ban would simply push drinking underground.

“The new policies will likely drive drinking off-campus and into private spaces and destroy what inclusivity there is in our social life and the progress the college has made in protecting students from harm when they drink in excess,” Dartmouth student Isaac Green wrote in a February opinion piece in The Dartmouth, the college’s daily student newspaper.

In an opinion piece in early February, Dartmouth sophomore Nicole Simineri pointed out that many women at the college tend to choose to drink liquor rather than beer or wine, meaning that the ban could disproportionately affect female students. Simineri also argued that the ban might create a greater imbalance in power dynamics between upperclassmen and underclassmen as well as an overall increase in social exclusivity.

Additionally, in a letter to the editor in late January, Professor of Sociology Douglas Goodman pointed out several studies that have shown that beer is more strongly correlated to binge drinking than hard alcohol.

The Dartmouth editorial board, meanwhile, raised concerns about the evidence justifying the ban, issues of transparency in how the college arrived at its decision, and possible outcomes of the new policy. In an editorial, the board stated their disappointment that Hanlon did not disclose or explicitly cite the research underlying the ban. The board noted that the presidential steering committee’s final report, which clarified and justified the new policy, cited just two sources in support of the hard alcohol ban, and did not reference the data which led to its conclusion.

“Not enough effort was made to make this policy transparent, and as a result, we are left wondering why it was chosen in the first place,” the editorial board wrote.

The board also argued that administrators were more concerned with appearing to take a tough stance on alcohol, rather than creating a strict policy that would ensure the safety of students.

“The hard alcohol ban and surrounding rhetoric indicate that administrators do not fully grasp what binge drinking looks like and why it is a problem,” the editorial board wrote. “An unhealthy culture of alcohol consumption will persist regardless of whether the alcohol comes from a liquor bottle or a can of beer.” The board urged Dartmouth to consider these issues when developing a plan for the implementation of its new policy.

The ban on hard liquor and pledging and the sexual violence prevention program are just a few of the many policy changes planned as part of “The Moving Dartmouth Forward Plan.” According to the Dartmouth president’s website, the changes are aimed at placing “Dartmouth at the forefront in creating higher expectations of college students while strengthening Dartmouth’s longstanding commitment to leadership in teaching and education.”

In the wake of Swarthmore’s own policy changes, students have raised similar concerns as those of Dartmouth community members about whether the new alcohol policy in fact addresses what some see as a problematic drinking culture. It remains to be seen whether Swarthmore’s policy will be more strictly enforced and if changes to campus party culture that have resulted from the new policy will continue. The coming months will also tell how the enforcement of Dartmouth’s new policies will play out, and whether Dartmouth’s bans on hard alcohol and pledging, and its sexual violence prevention and education program will set the stage for similar changes at colleges and universities across the nation.

Alcohol-related hospitalizations, calls decrease

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Over the course of the last semester, changes made to the college’s alcohol and other drugs policy have noticeably affected campus life at Swarthmore, particularly as it concerns the party scene and the number of alcohol-related incidents. Introduced in August 2014, the new policy was modeled after those of peer institutions, and included a ban on hard alcohol at registered parties, as well as the adoption of a medical amnesty policy.

Several students expressed concerns over banning hard alcohol, as students continued to consume it in more dangerous ways in unsupervised, private spaces.

“Truthfully, whether it’s party-provided or bought on one’s own, people are going to get their liquor either way if that’s what they want. The difference is that people may pregame faster and in larger quantities before they go to a party to ensure they’ll be satisfied for the duration of the night,” Jasmine Rashid ’18 wrote in an e-mail. She did agree, though, that providing unlimited amounts of hard liquor was also dangerous and could lead to overindulgence.

Phi Psi President Ian Lukaszewicz ’15 agreed, noting that the fraternity’s biggest concern was the potential for students to abuse “pregames,” since there have not been mixed drinks available at fraternity-hosted parties since the policy changes.

“We were afraid that students may drink more in their rooms before coming out to make up for the lack of hard liquor at parties,” he wrote.

Former Delta Upsilon President and member Trevor Shepherd ’15, however, did not notice an increase in the number of intoxicated students arriving at DU this past semester. Despite his concerns, Lukaszewicz did not see visibly large changes at Phi Psi either.

According to Beth Kotarski, the director of student health and wellness services, the number of alcohol-related visits to Worth Health Center actually decreased from 11 in the spring of 2014 to 6 in the fall of 2014. Mike Hill, the director of Public Safety, wrote in an e-mail that the number of alcohol-related incidents that Public Safety officers responded to in fall 2014 decreased as well, though he did not provide data related to hospitalizations.

Enforcement of the college’s new drug and alcohol policy has remained as ambiguous as in years past, though. Lukaszewicz, Shepherd and Rashid all agreed that the college strictly enforces the ban on hard alcohol at registered events, but remains lenient on other policies, like prohibiting drinking games.

When asked how they felt about the drug and alcohol policy changes in general, many students had mixed feelings.

“If the school decides to ban alcohol, parties will move into rooms to hide them. I think that the same activities will occur no matter what the policy is. However, I do think the previous policy allowed for more of a team effort between the school and students to safely drink, whereas now, there is more of a divide,” Madeline Conca ’17 wrote in an email.

“It is hard to tell what the overall effect is on campus. I think the new policies have made events and parties on campus safer, but students are going to drink no matter what. Hopefully the policies will help them do so more responsibly,” wrote Lukaszewicz.

What is certain is that as a result of the new policies, it has become much more difficult for clubs and organizations to acquire alcohol funds for parties. This lack of access to funds has altered the types of spaces where wet parties are typically held, which organizations host them and the number of attendees at each event.

While Pub Nite organizers managed to continue the Thursday tradition via a September GoFundMe campaign, other would-be party throwers have had difficulties raising funds. It appears that over the course of the semester, the fraternities have steadily become more integral to the social scene as other spaces have become less prominent. More importantly, there have been fewer parties in general.

According to the Social Affairs Committee’s weekly Weekend Events emails, seven parties were held at the fraternities all semester, compared to four at Paces and five at Olde Club. There were also two registered parties in Wharton, two in Worth and one in Alice Paul.

Chris Capron ’15, a member of SwatTeam, said the party-goer traffic was less concentrated in spaces that had previously been popular.

“Previously, Paces and Olde Club were bigger party venues, but now AP 1st, Wharton basement and the fraternities are seeing more traffic,” Capron wrote in an e-mail.

Shepherd said that the fraternities definitely saw an increase in attendance at events they hosted this past semester. According to SwatTeam member Emilio Garza ’16, fraternity events typically drew 175-200 guests, whereas about 150 students have their ID’s scanned at Paces and Olde Club parties. On at least one occasion, the limited amount of parties contributed to crowd control issues at the fraternities, with DU and Phi Psi receiving approximately 600 and 500 ID swipes, respectively.

“I think the biggest change in the rules was regarding the school’s ability to fund alcohol at parties. Because the school can no longer do this, there seemed to be fewer bigger parties outside of the fraternities. The fraternities were the only places hosting events every Thursday and Saturday,” Shepherd wrote in an e-mail.

Lukaszewicz agrees that fraternities have become a larger part of campus life as a result of the changes to the alcohol policy.

“I think the fraternities have mostly maintained their roles on campus, maybe with a slightly larger role than they have had in the past,” Lukaszewicz wrote. He also noted the fact that there were noticeably fewer and emptier parties at Olde Club and Paces this semester. Both Shepherd and Lukaszewicz welcomed and encouraged the increased traffic to the houses, and said that it did not cause any undue stress or pressure.

Peer institutions’ alcohol rules more lenient in practice than on paper

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When the college introduced a new drug and alcohol policy at the beginning of the fall semester, the administration said that it instituted the changes after studying the alcohol policies of peer institutions. As a result, administrators banned hard alcohol at organized functions that exceed 30 persons, prohibited drinking games and introduced a medical amnesty policy.

In this first part of this series investigating alcohol policies at peer institutions, the Phoenix looked at the formal policies at other colleges. Part two examined both the policies and practices of Haverford. In this installment, the Phoenix looks at the practices and experiences of students at peer institutions.

While on paper many schools have tough policies, students said underage drinkers could easily access alcohol at events on-campus.

“Stanford has an extremely liberal alcohol policy. When I entered college as a freshman, we obviously had people come talk to us about alcohol — [but] never did anyone tell us not to drink,” wrote Alexa Andaya, a junior at Stanford. She explained the RAs always stressed their “open-door policy,” which means students leave their doors open when drinking, in case there is an incident.

Andaya feels that the primary concern of Stanford RAs is safety. As such, they try to be aware of students’ drinking habits.

The sentiment at many schools is similar.

Megan Sims, a freshman at Harvard University, said that freshmen will find alcohol if they seek it.

“The overall policy is good because it helps acclimate freshmen to college life and partying, especially those who weren’t drinkers before,” Sims wrote. She explained that the leniency of the policy allows students to experience drinking alcohol fairly easily.

Harvard’s policy does not specifically address underage drinking. “The university will take disciplinary action against violators, consistent with federal, state, and local laws,” is the most it says about those who choose to drink.

At Duke, alcohol is generally available, with variance across social spaces.

“It’s pretty easy for underclassmen to get alcohol (usually just beer) at parties that aren’t Greek, and even easier for girls to get into frat parties where there’s hard liquor,” wrote Katie Zhou, a first-year at Duke. Duke’s drug and alcohol policy states that “Except at events in a licensed facility providing a cash bar, no spirituous liquor or fortified wines may be served to undergraduates.”

Despite multiple accounts of underage students gaining access to alcohol at peer institutions, not all universities show such leniency. “The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of drugs will not be tolerated on premises owned or controlled by the University,” reads New York University’s alcohol policy on its website. The intolerance of violating this policy was witnessed firsthand by Michelle Kim, a freshman at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Kim explained that she invited a friend of hers who was a non-NYU student to her dorm room one night. The building security guard caught Kim’s friend with a bottle of wine in their bag. Kim was let off with a warning, but they were forced to empty the bottle of wine while an RA watched them.

In addition to the ambiguity regarding the access to alcohol by underage college students, how to purchase or pay for alcohol at many of Swarthmore’s peer institutions is unclear.

“Payment [for alcohol] is usually done by the host(s),” said Henry Litwhiler, a freshman at Columbia University, in an email. “I’m not aware of any places that do door fees. I’ve heard things about the university paying for alcohol for senior-only events, but they’re very careful not to pay for underage consumption.” He also noted that there are not a lot of ways in which university funding could be misspent.

“Student group spending has to be itemized, so it’s pretty difficult for university funds to go towards alcohol that way,” Litwhiler wrote.

University of Pennsylvania students face similar uncertainties regarding the funding of alcohol at events on-campus.

Carly O’Donnell, a freshman at UPenn, explained that when it comes to alcohol on campus, the amount that students have to pay varies, but at least at fraternities, alcohol is free for guests.

At Princeton and at Duke, students said that they seldom pay for their own alcohol.

“People who throw pregames are generally pretty generous, and the beer on the Street is free,” wrote Valerie Wilson, a freshman at Princeton. The Street is the colloquial term for Prospect Avenue, where all of Princeton’s eating clubs are located.

Many institutions, however, have policies similar to Swarthmore regarding the types of alcohol allowed at social events as well as the approved methods for distributing it. Amherst, UPenn, Princeton and Columbia all have language in their drug and alcohol policies that restrict the use of kegs or other “common sources” of alcohol at events. Swarthmore does not currently restrict the use of kegs but does prohibit the use of other “common sources” of alcohol, like punch bowls. Duke, UPenn, Amherst, and Princeton all also prohibit or limit the consumption of hard alcohol on their campuses. Unlike at Swarthmore, these bans are campus-wide.

Swarthmore’s policy regarding violations of the drug and alcohol policy becomes more severe with each successive infraction.  The first violation of the policy results in a warning and referral to the alcohol and drug counselor, at minimum. The second violation involves probation and a referral to an alcohol education program, and the third violation involves suspension, expulsion, and outside intervention by authorities. At several peer institutions, the repercussions for violating the drug and alcohol policy are unclear or absent from their stated policies.

“I believe if you drink and end up going to Yale Health, the worst that can happen is you have a chat with a dean,”  wrote Natalie Wyatt, a freshman at Yale, via email. “Yale takes a preventative, not prohibitive, stance on alcohol for the most part. With other drugs however, being caught can result in a disciplinary case and expulsion, though this rarely happens the first time.”

At Princeton, the consequences for minor violations of the alcohol policy begin with a warning, students said. Higher-risk violations have stronger sanctions, as do other drugs.

However, Jalisha Braxton, a junior at Princeton, feels that it is difficult for the University to enforce their policies.

“I’m not really sure what the real rules are because the unspoken rule is just ‘Don’t get caught by off-campus police,’” she said in an email.

Amherst’s alcohol policy is similar to Princeton’s. However, the extent of this enforcement also seems to mirror Braxton’s description, according to Dan Ahn, a freshman at Amherst.

“[Campus police] will walk into a party with underage drinking, and as long as you put down your drink, they won’t take any disciplinary action,” he wrote.

UPenn’s disciplinary actions range from warning to expulsion. Pratyusha Gupta, a junior at UPenn, has never heard of anyone getting into disciplinary problems because of alcohol.

“Overall, Penn knows that you ‘work hard, party hard’ and they respect that. But they make a lot of resources available to help you if you have any sort of problem,” she wrote.

In the drug and alcohol policies of Swarthmore and its peer institutions, the most frequently recurring policy is the presence of a medical amnesty policy regarding the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Yale, Princeton, Amherst, UPenn, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, New York University and Vassar all have policies in place that grant students immunity from disciplinary action if students seek medical attention related to the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol. This medical amnesty policy is widely praised for promoting students to seek medical attention without fear of disciplinary action if their safety is jeopardized.

Halloween party rules and venue go through transformation

in Around Campus/News by
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Photo by Ashlen Sepulveda.

Last Friday, the Social Affairs Committee sent out a student body-wide email about this year’s Halloween party. The email explained two major changes to the party from last year: moving the party from Sharples to Clothier and the creation of a bring-your-own-beverage “beer/wine garden” for students over 21. Other changes included the expansion of the guest program from 100 slots open to Tri-Co students to 150 slots that are open to any guest under 24 and the establishment of a midnight costume contest. The email also explicitly stated that Swat Team members and public safety officers will be operating inside the event, a fact that the student body was not aware of until the night of the party last year. “A small group of SwatTeam, SAC members, Public Safety officers, and Office of Student Engagement staff … will be mingling in and around the event, ensuring safety and fun for all Swarthmore students attending and their guests,” read the SAC email.

A SAC representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the rationale behind the change of venues was as a matter of convenience, quality and expense. First and foremost, she explained, parties in Sharples are expensive. Crews need to be hired to move furniture in and out of Sharples, and EVS cleanup is more intensive than normal to meet sanitary standards after the party. The total cost comes out to between $3,000 and 3,500. Until recently, SAC thought that Clothier Hall was a dry space, but Mike Elias, assistant director of student activities, found that no document actually designated it as such.

The SAC representative thinks that, while Clothier Hall provides less square footage than Sharples, it offers more overall in its diversity of types of spaces. Paces offers an alternative dance space to Upper Tarble, with a potential for different music or mood. The game room allows people to exit the dance floor and take a breather in a well-lit indoor space. Hosting the party in Clothier Hall also allows the SAC committee to more easily section off the 21-and-up portion of the event. They will enter through a separate entrance by the bell tower and will be able to store and consume alcohol in the Essie Mae’s dining space. The SAC representative hopes that this system will be a less artificial and imposing way of separating the 21-and-older section than last year’s physical barriers. The BYOB process will remedy the issues that have come up when student bartenders are asked to refuse service to their friends.

“I like the change of location. Sharples is kind of a really big space and it’s hard to fill it up … I like that they’re being transparent with us this year about the alcohol policies, so you know what to expect as opposed to last year,” said Vinita Davey ’17.

She was more critical of the changes to the alcohol policy, which limits the quantity of alcohol students may bring in.

“I still think that Swat’s alcohol policy in general needs to be revised because if this year is going to be anything like last year, people are going to be chugging entire bottles of hard liquor before they show up,” she said.

With the 2012 Childish Gambino concert in Upper Tarble still in recent memory, there are concerns about the new space that are entirely unrelated to the alcohol policies. Childish Gambino had to end his show early when a combination of student dancing and heavy equipment caused fears that Upper Tarble’s wooden support structure was in danger.

“Facilities, OSE, and PubSafe have worked hard to ensure that the space will be secured properly throughout the entirety of the event and that capacity levels can support the amount of students entering the venue throughout the night,” wrote Elias in an email. “Lighting, audio equipment and DJs will be stationed on the concrete bleachers so that all equipment (and weight of it) will be supported by the concrete structure below — a significant change from the LSE set-up in the past.”

The SAC representative also said that ropes with lights would be strung up in front of the open balcony spaces in Upper Tarble to make them more visible and safer. These ropes will be monitored by Public Safety and Swat Team members.

“Although both venues — Sharples and Clothier — present logistical challenges, all parties involved in the discussion thought that it would not only enhance the social atmosphere of the space, but it would also make pre- and post-event set-up and breakdown much more streamlined,” said Elias. “It is important to emphasize that the change of venue is not permanent.   Students need to provide feedback to StuGo, SAC, and/or the OSE in the upcoming weeks so we can determine if the change of venue was something that enhanced the social atmosphere of the party.”

Yet another bad decision, poorly made

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

We are tired, very tired, of running editorials about alcohol policy. But just as the administration finishes one round of policy pronouncements, it begins another. Alas, we write again.

As stated in a staff editorial published just over a month ago, we believe that the college at large must be consulted about potential changes to reach mutually satisfactory results. Yes, we need to examine our drinking culture. Perhaps a change is merited. And maybe we could stand behind the college’s new Halloween policies. But oh, how we hate to be left in the dark.

This change, like those before it, seems arbitrary and futile. Had Halloween been simply BYOB, that would have been understandable: this would be a way to limit the college’s liability. Instead, we are told that Bring Your Own Beer really means Give Us Your Beer and We Can Give It Back. Or wine, that’s fine too. But not both. And only so much. And you have to drink it here. What could be the point of this? Let us consider the issue of flasks, as the college has evidently not. Will students be searched to prevent disallowed alcohols from entering the dance floor? Or is this just so much posturing?

As with previous changes, we worry that this may put an excessive burden on RAs. If this rule is strictly enforced, the bulk of drinking on campus will occur in the halls. Pregames are, duh, not official parties and no trained party officials have to be present. In the dorms, when medical attention is necessary, it is the RA who must be there, dropping everything else. Make no mistake, we are glad that RAs provide support to residents and believe that, overall, they do an exceptional job of creating safe environments. But it is not fair for us to force RAs to deal with an excess of drunk students.

Most of all, we are frustrated because we cannot understand why these changes in particular have been made, and why no one thought to consult us. For a college so in love with committees, where is our representation? And why is it so afraid of asking first? The administration owes us its reasoning, yet it will not budge.

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