Swarthmore's independent campus newspaper since 1881

Tag archive

campus health

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!

What It Is and What It Isn’t

in Campus Journal by

It’s interesting how you can think one way about a particular thing and then learn something that blows your mind, leaving you to question so many different things. This happened to me this week, and it’s a lot of fun when this happens because your mind is being stretched in ways that you didn’t think were possible, but it also stinks because it is the only thing you can think about. Thank you, Lisa Wade, for making this the best-worst, intellectually stimulating week yet.

For those of you who do not know, Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and author of the recently published book American Hookup, which is about the emergence of sex culture on college campuses. I, myself, have not read this book but a friend of mine highly recommended it to me, so it’s on my list. However, I have recently entered a new era in my life which includes listening to podcasts, and I stumbled across two featuring  Lisa Wade that made me think about hookup culture from a different perspective. With that being said, I highly recommend listening to “Hookup Culture with Lisa Wade” and “Hookup Culture: The Unspoken Rules of Sex On College Campuses”.

There is something about hookup culture that I both love and hate, which leaves me in a really confusing place. I am a firm believer in experimenting with other people to figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Do you like girls or do you like guys? Do you like sex a little rougher or a little softer? Lights on or lights off? Hooking up allows for individual growth as it is an experience that ultimately leads to self discovery. So, with all of this positivity I have towards hook ups, why do they leave me feeling so dirty? And Lisa Wade helped me finally answer this question that I’ve been asking since my junior year of high school: it’s not the physical part of the interaction that bothers me, but rather the culture that surrounds it.

Hookup culture itself is a relatively new form of socialization that arose in the 1920s. This is the period of time when the rise of industrialization attracted people away from rural parts of the country to cities. This change of setting allowed for the hookup culture to take root and flourish due to the close proximities in which people were now living. Along with this, cities offered nightlife, which is where the culture of hookups ultimately began. Also, the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote, helped influence the women’s movement of 1960, often called the Second Wave. This 1960s movement pushed for more equality for women. This equality would grant women more freedom outside of the house, encouraging more sexual freedom since women were then allowed to publicly embrace their body and sexuality, adding to the hookup culture. So, like I said, hookup culture is a relatively new phenomenon. But, before I go any further, I want to make it known to my audience that I will be focusing on heterosexual hookups… as that culture bothers me most and is the one that Lisa Wade talks about in the mentioned podcasts. There are, of course, similarities between same-sex and opposite-sex hookups, but I will be focusing on and critiquing that of opposite-sex hookups.

Examining the society in which we all live today, we embrace masculinity; not the “looks” of it but rather its normalities. However, when a girl crosses the gender boundary and takes on more masculine characteristics and lifestyle, she is looked down upon. There is a clear distinction between the roles and expectations that men and women are supposed to embody. However, when thinking of the qualities that are most rewarded and looked upon highly in our society, they are the traits and qualities that embody masculinity. Since men are the “most” ideal humans, as they contain the most “ideal” traits, it is they who women should follow; it is they who should lead. This attitude seeps into the infrastructure and culture of hookups that normalize the idea that men should “choose” who to hook up with, not women. These thoughts and ideas in our heads soon become actions, creating the hookup culture that I have come to hate.

It is the so-called “script” that the majority of hookup participants follow, myself included. It first begins with the girl wanting to be desired by the guy so that he chooses her. Maybe her shorts will be a little shorter, shirt a little tighter, boobs pushed up a bit — I mean heck I’ve done this before, and I know I’m not the only one. Then what follows next is the guy comes up from behind and latches onto the girl, and she looks around and if her friends nod in approval, she goes for him. We did this in high school, and, honestly, it did not even phase me because that is normal. Our society embraces the man and what he embodies, so us women and young girls find it rewarding when the man chooses us. I was at a concert where this happened to me. I was dancing and the guy came up and we started grinding and then he proceeded to grab my boobs. Back then my friends and I were all excited because he wanted me and my boobs, but that is so fucked up. It’s fucked up how we all unquestionably follow this so-called script and don’t even question its ways.

Lisa Wade believes that the hookup culture is deeply connected to rape culture due to this script. This is because the hookup culture calls for a carefree environment that turns into one of carelessness. Hookups are typically a one-and-done deal, a  hit-it-and-quit-it, if you will. Feelings aren’t supposed to accompany a hookup, but if they do, you are seen as desperate and clingy according to the script. Having feelings is apparently feminine and therefore bad, and that is why the hookup culture deters these emotions. It’s the idea that wanting someone is worse because in this culture you are just supposed to want something–the idea that women are sexual objects created to please men.

So, a couple things. Hookup culture sucks. Hookup culture rocks. Podcasts. Lisa Wade. Mind. Blown.

CAPS increases staff hours to meet students needs

in Around Campus/News by

As the semester draws to an end, Counseling and Psychological Services has increased its staff hours to meet the increasing need of students. Increasing CAPS’s capacity through extended hours has been standard procedure for years.

The Director of CAPS David Ramirez explained how this adjustment works. They bring in independent contractors who have been collaborating with CAPS for several years while increasing working hours of the staff.

“We have a group of people we hired, who have previously worked at CAPS, to come in and add [students to our schedule]. So the improvements or the adjustment is that when we get busier, we get more hours from those people, so that when people make requests to been seen, they can be seen in a timely fashion,” said  Ramirez.

Along with increase in staff time, CAPS also brings in independent contractors to increase its capacity.

“Now, we are here in April, we are kind of running at peak capacity. So we are providing 225 hours of contact time per week, and we are running two groups, each of which has eight or nine students, and it meets for an hour and a half each week. We have a counselling psychiatrist, who is working with a subset of students who are being seen. And our psychiatrist provides a lot, from sixteen to any hours a week,” said Ramirez.

However, when asked if it was easy to get an appointment, Fanyi Ma ’19 answered that it has been a struggle.

“It’s hard to get a time slot that actually works for me. After I missed several appointments, they cancelled my future appointments and put me on the waitlist,” said Ma.

Ma thinks that to increase its availability and accessibility, CAPS needs to hire more people. However, it is not something CAPS is aiming to do, mainly due to its limited space on campus.

“The building was renovated in 2012. So we went from having four clinical offices, consultation offices to having eight. So the number doubled. So we keep those offices filled with staff everyday of the week. So we can’t add any staff because we don’t have space to put them,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez then explained that, when the independent contractors came in, they had to squeeze in between regular office hours or come after regular working hours.

“They stay till eight or nine during the week. So we don’t have to have a whole separate office but we still can get quite a bit of time, clinical time,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez said that the number of staff at CAPS has not changed much in the past three years. In the last five years, however, CAPS has undergone some big changes in staff number.

“Starting around probably 2012, we added an entire staff person, then the year after that, two people who have been here three days a week. As they retired, the college increased staff time to five days a week. So effectively we’ve added two staff people in the last five years-worth of time,” said Ramirez.

Still, Ma thinks that CAPS need to work on its efficiency.

“The counselors there are professionally trained to help with mental illnesses and respond to crises. They should be serving the students who are most in need. There are other resources on campus (RA, SAM, DPA, SPEAK2SWATTIES) that students can go to when they are ‘feeling down’ or experiencing difficulties orienting social or academic life,” said Ma.

Despite increased pressure on CAPS there are currently no plans to make permanent changes to the service.

Student group launches service to provide menstrual products

in Around Campus/News by

This January, the student group Free Pads for Undergrads introduced a program to provide free emergency pads and tampons for menstruating students and staff in female, gender-neutral, and select male bathrooms. The products are currently funded by the Student Budget Committee and are distributed biweekly by the 16 member coalition that is co-chaired by Chloe Klaus ’19 and Leemay Chen ’19.

A push for this initiative on campus emerged back in September of 2016 when Shayla Smith ’20 published a Phoenix op-ed entitled “Printing is free, so why aren’t tampons?” that gained much attention on campus.

“I saw an article about how Brown [University] had started a similar initiative, and [that project] is essentially what inspired me to write about that topic. This whole thing is totally new to me … I’ve never started an initiative like this or been part of an initiative like this,” said Smith.

Co-Chairs of Free Pads for Undergrads Chloe Klaus ’19 and Leemay Chen ’19 also saw a need for a service for menstruating students on campus. Klaus said her inspiration for the program came after she joined the Roosevelt Institute Chapter at Swarthmore. One of the issues that she tackled as a member of the institute was women’s and reproductive rights.

Then, Klaus and Chen spoke about working together, and Chen mentioned the idea of providing free pads and tampons in bathrooms at Swarthmore.

“It’s just as much of a necessity to have pads and tampons as it is to have toilet paper, soap, or water in a bathroom. It seems pretty outdated to charge menstruating individuals for emergency hygienic supplies,” said Klaus.

Klaus and Chen met with staff members, such as Director of the Worth Health Center Alice Holland, and members of Environmental Services in order to put together the logistics of the pilot program, including stocking and distribution, and get the program on its feet. Smith had also previously corresponded with Holland about the program when she first wrote her article, so Holland was familiar with the idea beforehand.

“This was a collaborative effort between student groups and campus departments. Currently, the Health & Wellness Center is offering space for supply storage. The folks in EVS have been instrumental in troubleshooting, ordering supplies, and distribution,” added Holland.

Pads and tampons can currently be found in all academic buildings and other buildings around campus, which are heavily trafficked by students. Currently, the pads and tampons are not available in residence halls due to funding constraints.

“Our funding is not ideal because we don’t have [enough money for] products in all buildings. It’s not where we want it to be exactly,” Klaus stated.

The group’s long-term goal is institutionalization, so that students are no longer responsible for the management of finances.

“We’ve enjoyed the leadership role, and it’s been a really great experience working with faculty and staff, but [the program] is mainly being done as a way to gather feedback and ideas in order to have it be institutionalized,” Klaus stated.

Smith echoed Klaus’s sentiments.

“We want the school to pay for it; we don’t want students paying for it,” Smith said.

Smith believes that this kind of action would be significant and show that Swarthmore cares about its students since it supports the student population, as well as faculty and staff.

However, funding is not the only issue on the group’s mind. They are also interested in getting more members.

“I definitely think it’s moreso that we need more students getting involved, so that we can get [products] into more bathrooms on campus.There’s only so many bathrooms that each person can stock,” Smith said.

Environmental services has played a large role in aiding the implementation of the program.

“We have shared the supplies we have on hand, and ordered the additional supplies requested. In addition, we mechanically altered the existing dispensers in included restrooms to allow them to dispense products at no cost,” said Vice President for Facilities and Capital Projects Stuart Hain.

The opening of the dispensers has been a new development, and came as a surprise to the members of the program.

“It was actually kind of a surprise, but we’re really happy about that. We will still use the baskets though because dispensers aren’t in male bathrooms, for example,” said Klaus

There has been a bit of confusion with regards to why the program has decided to place the baskets in select male restrooms.

“We don’t have them in all of the men’s bathrooms or even many of them. We tried to think about heavily trafficked bathrooms and put many of them there first. The reason for that is because we want people to know that this is a non-exclusionary initiative, that they are being thought of, and that these products are for anyone who menstruates,” said Smith

The confusion over this decision has been seen in tangible ways.

“We’ve seen [these products] be put outside of male bathrooms or be placed in the women’s bathrooms. I understand why people would be confused, but you don’t have to identify as female to mensturate,” Smith said.

With regards to the future of the program, Klaus said they are planning to present the idea of institutionalization in the next academic year. First, they will gather feedback from students on the program in order to gauge what needs to be improved versus what should be kept the same.

“We’re holding off on pushing for [institutionalization] until the end of this semester because we want to see how the pilot program goes first, so that we can have [findings] to present to the administration. Hopefully by the next school year, we will have presented our idea to the administration, and they will be able to see that it’s a relatively inexpensive endeavor,” said Klaus.

Until then, Free Pads for Undergrads will continue to be funded by the Student Budget Committee and organized by students who join the program.

The Free Pads for Undergrads initiative has gained traction on campus, providing menstruating community members access to emergency pads and tampons. Moving forward, it will be seen if the college will take up the program in a more comprehensive fashion.

Go to Top