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On the role of PubSafe

in Columns/Opinions/Words of Wagner by

As the first half of the semester has gone by, returning students have noticed changes in the way that Public Safety has been interacting with students, from specific changes like PubSafe’s official Building Patrol Notice as well as general shifts in campus drinking culture that are attributed to stricter enforcement of drinking policies by Public Safety. These changes inspire reflection on what kind of campus students want to have, and whether it is attainable in the fact of campus policies and state laws. Public Safety’s job, first and foremost, is to keep students safe, and I am incredibly grateful that I feel like I can walk alone at night around campus and have someone to call if I was in an emergency. However, recent shifts feel like they have crossed a line from keeping students safe to keeping them in line.

The Building Patrol Notice has the best of intentions: get students to stop leaving their expensive items around campus and make them lock their doors. These are noble causes. I personally make sure to lock my door whenever my roommate and I aren’t in our building. It’s more secure to keep doors locked, and prevents all of the valuables I keep in my room, which include textbooks, old t-shirts from high school cross country, and several bottles of nail polish, safe. Students should have the right to decide whether or not they value the convenience of having their room unlocked more than the added safety. Swarthmore is supposed to be a close-knit community, and dorm residents should be able to determine for themselves if they trust their dorm-mates enough to leave their door unlocked while they go to do laundry or even out for a jog. Public Safety should find a way to promote door locking and not leaving items unattended without going into dorms and locking doors and taking students items. If a student leaves their laptop on the main floor of McCabe while they walk to another floor to use the restroom, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not it will be there when it gets back. I certainly didn’t until it became official policy for PubSafe to take it if they choose; I trust my peers to both not take my stuff and to notice if someone who wasn’t a student tried to walk off with it. Swarthmore students are adults, and when I visited Swarthmore as a junior in high school, it seemed like I would be treated as such.

At that time, unbeknownst to me, the culture of drinking on campus was beginning to change. The DJ fund had been phased out, and the College was no longer funding PubNite either. Today, in my second year, I find the drinking culture here chilling. For many students, the average drinking options are the large parties thrown by the frats or whatever campus group is hosting in Paces, or drinking in their dorms. Public Safety has also been cracking down on drinking in academic buildings, which would make it impossible for even a small group of students to go to Trotter on a Saturday and drink wine while playing cards or another casual and non-disruptive game. The requirement for parties of 10 attendees and over to be registered means that a student who wants to get together with nine friends would not only have to register the party, but take on the legal responsibility for whether or not attendees under 21 consume alcohol. Because the hosts of registered parties are legally responsible for attendees of their parties, smaller parties are harder to host despite being much safer than a party at DU. If PubSafe came to a small registered party without being called and an attendee under 21 was drinking, it is much easier for the College to prove that the host knowingly allowed that person to drink illegally, which would have massive ramifications for that person. Conversely, there is a lot of plausible deniability for the hosts of all-campus parties because of the size of the parties and the fact that they are open to campus. Everyone knows that people under twenty-one are being served beer at open parties, yet a host of a small party takes on a higher degree of risk despite the much lower risk involved in a small, casual get-together compared to a packed frat party. The focus for Public Safety and the College should be on mitigating risk.  Making it difficult for small parties to happen when they are safe outlets for students to drink does a disservice to students on this campus. Carding students and confiscating alcohol from dorms also goes against the idea of mitigating risk and keeping students safe, but if students fear Public Safety, they will not go to them when they actually need help.

The national drinking age and state laws also are incredibly problematic in keeping students safe. The drinking age was raised to 21 because of lobbying by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to prevent drunk driving deaths. Pennsylvania does not provide medical amnesty for students who are ill due to the effects of alcohol. The enforcement of the drinking age on Swarthmore’s campus is of course, the law, but ignores the intent of the law. Students at Swarthmore’s campus don’t drive for the most part. About ten percent of students have cars, and approximately zero percent of students need a car to get from their dorm to Paces on a Saturday night. The drinking age has been effective in preventing drunk driving, according to the NIH, and that has absolutely saved lives and is good for society. However, walking under the influence of Angry Orchard has not harmed anyone, and as someone who is old enough to vote, join the military, and buy fireworks, I think I should be able to have a freaking hard cider without the full force of the law interrupting my fun. [Author’s note: I promise to neither vote or use fireworks under the influence.] The college should only devote resources to enforcing the drinking age if it keeps students safe, and as it stands, enforcing the drinking age incentivizing unsafe drinking practices.

Students pregame hard in their dorms with hard liquor and then go out because of stricter enforcement. Pregaming is dangerous, because it mainly features hard alcohol and students attempt to drink quickly so they can go out and actually experience the party. Strict enforcement of the drinking age pushes students into hiding in secrecy, and fear of citation makes them not want to call for help if they need it. The current amnesty policy, that the caller gets amnesty, means nothing because students are still hesitant to cause their friend to get cited if it turns out the situation was not as serious as they thought. Public Safety and the State of Pennsylvania should make students feel like it’s better to be safe than sorry when calling for help.

As I go through my twentieth year of life, I increasingly find it frustrating that the College, Public Safety, and the government do not think I’m old enough to decide for myself whether or not I can drink an alcoholic beverage, and that Public Safety believes that taking students items in the name of protecting them from theft would do anything besides increase tensions between the student body and Public Safety. At least they gave us promotional fidget spinners!

Updated Clery data sheds light on crime trends

in News by

According to the 2017 Annual Fire Safety and Security Report, last year resulted in the highest reported Violence Against Women Act offences since 2012, 19, and the first act of arson since 2012. Oppositely, larceny is the lowest since 2012, 36, as is burglary, 2.

The report, which Public Safety released on Sept. 29, details campus safety policies and crime statistics for the previous year, as required by the 1990 Clery Act. The act requires all colleges that participate in federal aid programs to publicly report such information annually.

The total reported VAWA offenses is largely due to the incidents of reported dating violence rising from six in 2015 to 15 in 2016, the highest number since 2012. Several administration members spoke about what work should be done going forward.

I don’t think we will rest until the number is zero in these reports and until we have a college campus where everyone can thrive and live without harm,” Women’s Resource Center Supervisor Shá Duncan Smith said.

Interim Title IX Coordinator Michelle D. Ray added that the Title IX office will continue to work diligently to support the Swarthmore community to stop, remedy, and prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Our policies are reviewed every year based on student, faculty, and staff feedback, and of course we also look very closely at what is shared with us by those who are most ​directly impacted,” she said in an email.

Neither commented on the spike in dating violence or mentioned potential policy changes in response to the numbers.

“We often see Swarthmore as an exception to a lot of these negative trends,” Lamia Makkar ’21 said. “Obviously these numbers aren’t to the same degree as a lot of other colleges, but this trend should be known and more actions should be taken.”

The decreased number of larceny and thefts, Hill said, can be attributed to a variety of things, such as students and community members reporting suspicious activity, securing personal valuables, and the implementation of technology tools on campus.

The college also reported 24 liquor law arrests — 18 of which were in residential facilities — and 33 alcohol violations. As a partial explanation for the numbers, Director of Public Safety Michael Hill outlined the liquor law arrest policy on campus.

“If someone calls for a friend and PubSafe determines the student is in need of medical evaluation and/or assistance, typically an ambulance will transport them to the hospital,” he said. “If the transported student is under the legal age of consumption, they can receive an underage drinking citation.”

According to Hill, after two court visits and several hours of community service and drug and alcohol education, first time offenders can erase the citation from their record.

Several community members see the policy as problematic.

Class Senator Akshay Srinivasan ’21 said the potential of getting a friend getting arrested could act as a deterrent to bystanders.

“Students would be less likely to report their friend being drunk because they would think their friend might be charged, but I don’t see a legal way out of it,” he said.

Vitor Dos Anjos ’21 said the problem isn’t with the school, but with the law.

“I think the problem is that the city of Swarthmore has the policy of immediately getting the police involved as soon as an ambulance is called,” he said. “If the ambulance is called and the person needs help, then the ambulance automatically breaks that person’s privacy rights by getting the police involved.”

Other schools had a dramatically discrepancies between alcohol arrests and violations: Williams reported four arrests and 343 violations; Middlebury one and 597, respectively. Hill did not comment directly on the comparison except for that every college is unique and has its own dynamics.

“It is difficult to address another institution’s statistics without knowledge of their institutional culture, policies, procedures, and the response and protocols from local law enforcement,” he said.

Both Hill and alcohol and other drugs counselor and educator Joshua Ellow called for a change in the school’s culture regarding alcohol.

Going out with the intention of getting wrecked can contribute to these numbers, but more importantly [it can] put community members at risk,” Ellow said. “Accidents do happen, but risk is directly related to the strength of our drinks (i.e., hard alcohol vs. light beer) and the pace at which we consume.”

Hill stressed that safety is our shared responsibility, and the college will continue to hold conversations to educate and raise awareness about alcohol and drug-related issues.

“W​ithin a small segment of our community, ​alcohol abuse is tolerated, and there is a lack of accountability to one another and for each other’s safety and actions,” he said. “In many instances by the time Public Safety is called, an individual is already in physical distress. There needs to be a larger conversation about the culture of AOD use and abuse.”

Several administration members said students are getting more comfortable with reaching out to Public Safety for help, although they did not attribute that fact to the high number of liquor law arrests or dating violence incidents.

“I think that our medical amnesty policy has led to more students calling for assistance when AOD problems arise. I see this as a result of our policy and the goal of getting students help in an emergency or risky situation,” Ellow said.

Hill added that although it would be better if individuals drank responsibly to begin with, he is impressed with the increasing number of students who have been willing to call in for help for a friend or even themselves for earlier intervention.

Ray said that’s what she had wished.

We hope that students have felt more empowered to speak up, that systems of reporting have become clearer, and additional trained personnel have helped make ​students feel freer to report.”

Although the numbers reported in the Clery Act are important to look over, they don’t always tell the complete story, according to Jonny Guider ’21. For example, he said, the stats could be a result of community members reporting more openly or a recent change in policy.

“The overall trends signify more than individual numbers,” he said.

Events at Disorientation spur reflection on drinking culture

in News by

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.”

 

Red tape causes vacuum in open party scene

in News by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcohol for the atmosphere: Swarthmore as a wet town

in Campus Journal by

Maybe it is just me because I come from a state where you can walk into a Walgreens and see a handle of vodka next to the health vitamins, but I think Pennsylvania alcohol laws are weird. When I first visited Swarthmore during my senior year of high school, my parents decided to go get something to eat in the Ville while I was visiting classes, and after walking around the two blocks that consist of downtown Swarthmore, they were puzzled by the lack of food options. A quick Google search showed that Swarthmore was a dry town, and that was probably why there were so few restaurants. Due to this fact, they have continued to make fun of me for wanting to go to an urban school and ending up at a school in a dry town 11 miles outside of Philadelphia that looks like it could be in the middle of nowhere.

But this summer that might all change.

Swarthmore 21, a community organizing group, is working to change Swarthmore to a wet town on this summer’s primary ballot. For more on that see: “Swarthmore 21 Causes Debate in the Borough.”

The thing about a dry town is that it doesn’t just prevent stores from selling alcohol: it prevents the town from growing. The mark-ups on alcohol in restaurants are astronomically larger than the mark-ups on food, allowing more restaurants to make a larger profit. An increase in restaurants brings more foot traffic to the town, allowing other stores to open up. Basically, our economy runs on alcohol.

When I chose to come to Swarthmore I knew I wasn’t getting a school that was integrated into a big city or had a huge party scene, and I was okay with that. But now that I am here I miss having a downtown area to wander. I miss walking around on a nice night and seeing couples eating outside of restaurants or kids playing in the fountains. I miss the quirky local shops and restaurants. More than that, I miss the atmosphere.

If you want to know what this is like, just walk by the Inn on any given night. Has anyone else noticed that people at the Broad Table Tavern always look happy? As I walk by the big glass windows I stare in wearily, wishing that the ziti didn’t cost $20. The place is always packed, and the reason isn’t just because the food is decent: it is because it is a monopoly. Regular people that drink and just want to enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner only have one place to go in this town, The Broad Table Tavern. Hopefully this will change soon.

I envision several restaurants opening up, offering students and residents alike places to eat out and laugh over a nice glass of wine. I see families walking through the streets on their way to a nice dinner. I see residents and students enjoying a nice conversation as they wait for a table. I see people walking through the Ville just because it is a nice place to be.

I don’t think my expectations are that out of line. Small towns have charm, why can’t this one?

Rule changes affect misconduct, party policies

in Around Campus/News by

Every year, the Dean’s Office revises the student handbook based on feedback from students, faculty, and student groups recorded from the previous year. This year’s revisions bring significant changes to alcohol and party policies, as well as the student conduct process.

As part of the changes, the college altered its definition of a “party.” Previously, a party that had alcohol present in a registered party space had to exceed 30 students before requiring registration by Public Safety through the OSE. This year, that number dropped to 10 based on feedback from both Swat Team and Public Safety.

Dean Nathan Miller, who also serves as the director of student conduct, explained that this new definition is meant to give the college a better understanding of what events are happening on campus, how to effectively deploy Swat Team members, and how to allocate other resources.

Dean and Director for Student Engagement Rachel Head explained that this type of change is not necessarily new.

“The number of participants at an event that require a party permit have varied over the years; recent years have had numbers as low as 10 to as high as 30 participants. Students reserving space early and turning in party permits in a timely fashion is essential to the process,” Head said.

The handbook now states: “After reserving space for a social function, the student must register the function by obtaining and submitting an Alcohol Permit from the Office of Student Engagement. An Alcohol Permit is required if: a) more than ten (10) people will attend; b) there is a keg; or c) the party will be held in a registered event/party location.”

Because the definition of a party has changed, the number of registered parties will likely increase, and thus increase the burden on resources for Swat Team. Some students, though acknowledging that the rule change is a good step toward making parties safe, had some reservations about the logistics of regulating parties. Ojas Chinchwadkar ‘17, a member of Swat Team, shared his concerns.

“I remember when Swarthmore stopped serving hard alcohol at parties, many people were concerned that students would pre-game unsafely before parties. This policy change is a good step toward addressing that. However, I’m concerned that it will be difficult to implement,” he said. “People move around quite often on Thursday and Saturday nights, so it is possible that a group of four unexpectedly arrives to a ‘gathering’ of seven or eight people with alcohol, and the ‘gathering’ becomes an official ‘party.’”

Head explained, however, that the way Swat Team members are deployed addresses this issue. “The Swat Team managers and director meet with the OSE and Public Safety each week to discuss which parties require Swat Team support. Larger all-campus events and all-campus locations are prioritized for Swat Team support over smaller gatherings.” The form to register a party under these new guidelines can only be found online through the OSE.

Other changes to the handbook include the addition of Michelle D. Ray to fill the position of Case Manager & Grievance Advisor, a new position at the college. Ray’s job will be to assist  in the student misconduct adjudication process and inform students of their rights.

“This position was among the many recommendations informing advances to the student conduct process,” she said. “This position will serve as an integral part of the overall student conduct process and the Title IX team to help ensure that all student conduct processes are fair and equitable.”

The position was created last year, but the duties were taken up by other staff members until the search to replace the previous Grievance Advisor was completed.

 If a student finds themself in what the handbook calls the “major misconduct process,” which requires the involvement of the college judiciary committee (CJC), the student will be appointed a case manager (typically the Case Manager & Grievance Advisor) to help them navigate the procedures of a CJC hearing. Though the case manager does not affect the CJC process itself, they serve as a resource to students in navigating the process.Ray explained over email that, “at the discretion of the respondent, the Case Manager may accompany the student to any meeting/hearing related to these procedures.  Additionally, the Case Manager and Grievance Advisor will offer support to any student within the student conduct process and/or education to the community related to the student conduct process.”

The last change to the handbook worth noting is a new timeline for the student conduct appeals process, though the appeals process itself, has not changed. The handbook now states that a respondent to a complainant must appeal to the dean of students or designee within 3 business days of the written outcome. Conversely, the dean must communicate the result of the appeal within 5 business days, though there is some flexibility on the dean’s end depending on the nature of the case.

Ray clarified that the timeline is a fairly minor change.

“We revise our policy every year and the revisions are based on the actual experience of students.  What we realized was that the timeline for appeals in the current policy was longer than the actual time it was taking to conduct the appeals, so we adapted the timeline in the revised policy to be a more accurate reflection of what was actually happening,” Ray said.

In a September 14th meeting for faculty and students about the changes to the handbook, Dean Miller stressed that the majority of the changes in the handbook were meant to make it more user-friendly and explicit in its rules and procedures.

 

Party policy limits queer life

in Letter to the Editor/Opinions by

We would like to briefly give voice to a consequence of the college’s new alcohol policy discussed in Bobby Zipp ’18’s January 22 article, “Alcohol-related hospitalizations, calls decrease.” The new alcohol policy has concentrated Swarthmore’s weekend social scene in the hands of the fraternities, and as queer and trans students we do not feel comfortable in these spaces. Last year, on any given weekend night we could enjoy a fun party with a positive, albeit disappointingly heterosexual, atmosphere. However, this year, there is rarely a bumping, non-frat party for us to attend other than Pub Nite. Whereas it was previously fairly easy and simple for groups other than the frats to secure permits and funding to host parties, the new alcohol policy has made this more difficult, and the social scene of Swarthmore relies upon the frat parties, which are funded by the dues the brothers pay each year. While it is still possible for us to secure funding for parties through crowdsourcing, sufficient and continued donations are beyond many students’ means. Many of us chose to attend Swarthmore specifically because it was a cash-free campus that believed in equal access to social life, regardless of income, but that no longer seems to be the case.

We will not try to argue against the existence of the frats on campus here, as that effort has proved to sap the energy of student activists without significant gains. But, considering that a number of students, particularly queer and trans students, do not feel comfortable in these spaces due to the frats’ track records regarding misogyny, homophobia, and sexual assault, we deem it important to bring our feelings of discomfort and exclusion to the attention of those responsible for creating these new policies.

We encourage Public Safety and the Swarthmore administration to consider the impact that the new college policy has had on the ability of queer and trans students to participate in campus life. We encourage Public Safety, the administration, and the student body to collaborate to make it more possible for parties to be hosted outside of the fraternities. A social scene in which students of gender and sexuality minorities feel they cannot participate is one that should not continue without major revision. A number of us were enticed to come to Swarthmore due to its reputation as a queer- and trans-inclusive space. This year’s social scene, a result of the new campus alcohol policies, has left us thoroughly disappointed in this regard. 

Amit Schwalb ’17, Parker Murray ‘15, Priya Dieterich ‘18,  Ian Holloway ‘17, Margaret Hughes ‘17, Tom Corbani ‘17, Gretchen Trupp ‘18, Gabe Benjamin ‘15, Peter Amadeo ‘15, Allison ‘16, Joyce Wu ‘15, Zoey Werbin ‘17

 

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

in News by

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.

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