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A complex case of repurposing Sharples

in Columns/Op-Eds/Opinions by

Dining halls shape your college experience. Not only does it provide you with the food you need to sustain your daily routine, it also serves as a social space where students can relax, hang out together, or meet new faces they have never seen on a daily basis. With this importance in mind, we can see how Sharples, as the only dining hall at Swarthmore, influences the social dynamic within our institution. Therefore, when Swarthmore announced its plan on November 28 to construct a new dining hall and convert Sharples into a student union, everyone should supposedly feel delighted. Finally, we will have better food. Finally, we need not rush to Sharples right after our last morning class. Finally, we can linger at our dining table as much as we want because our new dining hall is large enough for every student. This article argues that these dining hall improvements are unlikely to happen if Swarthmore pursues its current construction plan. Therefore, Swarthmore should situate the student union inside the new building and renovate Sharples instead.

To begin with, let’s examine the two arguments in support of building a new dining hall: Sharples is overcrowded because it supports only 900 students, and it does not support individualized cooking. Both arguments may not necessarily be the case. Indeed, it is true that the number of Swarthmore students exceeds the maximum capacity of Sharples. However, not all students dine at the same time. Consider two students, the first’s morning class ends at 11:10AM on Tuesday, and the second’s morning class ends at 12:35PM. Even if both students usually have lunch, they will rarely have lunch at the same time because of their schedule. Moreover, Swarthmore has many dining options aside from Sharples: Indian and Chinese food ordered from off campus providers in Kohlberg and the Science Center, and some grab-and-go food both at Sharples and beside SCI199. Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that Sharples has to serve lunch to 1500 students simultaneously. Because Sharples is less crowded during breakfast and dinner, the same reasonings still hold. From my experience, even when Sharples becomes extremely crowded, the maximum time I spend waiting on the line is less than ten minutes and I never have trouble finding a place to sit. Therefore, simply because the new dining hall would serve more students does not sufficiently justify its construction. The congestion is not as severe as it is portrayed.

Moving on the second argument: Sharples does not support individualized cooking. This argument is true for current Sharples; offering an individualized cooking in a dining hall where students occasionally have to spend ten minutes to get food is impractical. However, if Swarthmore wishes to offer individualized cooking, the College can simply renovate Sharples, for instance, by relocating some of the tables more closely with one another. There are many unoccupied spaces that can potentially be renovated to create an individualized cooking space. Even if this individualized cooking space may not be as spacious as those at our peer institution, it can still be created.

With the idea that Sharples’ condition is not as severe as people usually claim established, this article will argue that the geography of current Sharples makes it difficult to have any broad space necessary for a student union. As of now, Sharples has the two floors: the upper floor has two meeting rooms, whereas the first floor serves food and provides tables for its guests. Recognize that both the meeting rooms upstairs are relatively small in comparison to other areas inside Sharples. Therefore, if Swarthmore proceeds with its proposed plan, the first floor at current Sharples will be the heart of the new student center. What does this mean? The two rooms (salad bar and Room 004) on the first floor are so disconnected from other sections that they will hardly be of any use. For such sections as the food service and the quieter dining room, they are not large enough for students to gather together. With these constraints of current Sharples, it can be concluded that Swarthmore must spend a significant amount of resource into re-organizing Sharples in order to construct a suitable space for a student union. Therefore, it is more reasonable to construct a new building as a space for student union.

Because Sharples is designed as a dining hall, it takes more resources to convert current Sharples into a student union than to renovate spaces inside the building. Congestion and individualized cooking may be some of the drawbacks Sharples has, but they do not create so many problems that a new dining hall must be built. In essence, Swarthmore students want two things: better food and more spaces for social gathering. These goals can be reached more efficiently if we utilize buildings in the ways they are originally designed: Sharples for food and a new building for a new student union.

What I Won’t Miss about Swat: Reflections Before leaving for the Summer

in Campus Journal by

Ah, summer, so close and yet so far. Various seedy “moving” companies have started emailing students, offering to take our clutter off our hands (they don’t say anything about returning it, though). The Rose Garden is starting to vaguely live up to its name. Shirtless show-offs fling frisbees around Parrish beach. How can I abandon all this for a 40-hour/week internship in D.C.? As a fun intellectual exercise (read: to actually contribute something to the last Campus Journal of the semester), I’ve decided to list the few things I won’t miss about Swarthmore this summer.

First, food: I am a lowly freshman. I am therefore overloaded with Sharples meals and am constantly bankrupt on Swat Points. For three brief months there will be no pasta bar, no badly boiled carrots, no fluorescent juices made out of suspicious ingredients. Also, I assume that D.C. has more than two streets of restaurants to choose from.

AND YET: Thanks to the OneCard, I can pretend that Swat Points aren’t “real” money and occasionally spend irresponsibly. In the world beyond Swarthmore, you actually have to pay with fun, adult things like dollar bills.

Second, housing. Shout-out to Willets residents: You do not have to spend the rest of your life in lounges furnished like a 70s waiting room in a dodgy doctor’s cabinet. There are floors without beer stains, toilets without vomit, kitchens without mice, and refrigerators without large amounts of moldy food. It’ll be hard to lose the smell of weed in the air, but I’m sure I’ll adapt quickly.

AND YET:…there is a Willets community. Sort of. We all get annoyed when someone dumps their ramen in the sink. And this dorm is a nice common enemy for everyone. Who will share my pain this summer? Nothing like irritation to bring people together.

And, lastly, Swatties. My fellow students, sufferers, lovers, thinkers, complainers, or whatever it is that brings us together. Believe me, I love you. You are all, for the most part, amazing people who will go on to do great things. And that is why we need a break from each other. Sometimes, I just need to walk around with my head in the clouds and not recognize everyone around me. I’d like to glimpse a stranger’s face and briefly imagine what their life may be like before losing them in the crowd, rather than recognizing them from a class or knowing way too much about their romantic history. It would be nice to not feel crushed by the weight of everyone else’s accomplishments and intelligent contributions to classroom discussions.

AND YET: I’ll miss late night discussions about random topics and having people to rant about French politics at. I’ll miss brilliant idealists describing a communist utopia and late night songs in Urdu and the most flamboyant figures tearing through campus in leather shorts and velvet headbands.

It’s been quite a year, Swarthmore. We probably need some time apart before I officially become a McCabe-dwelling bat that lives off Essie’s snacks. And I doubt I’m the only one who’ll be glad to take a break. Mountain Justice activists will probably enjoy not getting random citations for the grave crime of shredding documents. Members of the Conservative Society may not miss being one of twenty conservative students on a 1600 person-campus. Anyone who has struggled with Eduroam crashes (actually, that’s the entirety of the campus) will, hopefully, have the pleasure of finding a functional network; and, even if we miss our favorite professors and fondly recall our best classes, will we really long for the days of hunching over a laptop at 3 am, only halfway done with an essay due the next day?

No. Definitely not. The Swarthmore Bubble doesn’t mean the school is a perfect place, and a lot of people would benefit from a trip back into the real world. But then again, there probably will be the odd pang of nostalgia. We are Swatties, after all. Being here requires at least a small dose of masochism.

Students create swateventsaround.me website to streamline social scene

in Around Campus/News by

An independent team of students has created an events website with the hope of creating a more organized social scene on campus. The website, entitled swateventsaround.me, allows students to quickly add a pin on a campus map to advertise their event.

Team member Jason Jin ’20 explained why he thought creating the website was necessary.

“This was pretty much my idea. I was frustrated with the way that the events system worked here. We have no central or universal events list. We have a lot of flyers everywhere, a bunch of email spam, and sometimes, there’s Facebook events that people share with you. So I wanted to create a universal system that everyone can post their stuff to,” he said.

The team, which includes Won Chung ’18, Bunn Buraparat ’20, William Lee ’20, and Tristan Cates ’20, started developing the website at the PennApps Hackathon at the University of Pennsylvania about a month ago. A hackathon is an event during which a team of programmers typically work on a single project for the duration of a whole weekend. Jin also mentioned that since then, the team met almost every night to fully develop the website’s features.

To register an event on the website, all a student needs to do is complete a short form filling out the date, time, and description of the event. After the team approves the event within 24 hours, a small pin is dropped on a campus map for other users to see.  

Won Chung further explained the mechanics behind the website.

“For the front end of the website, we use CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. For the back end, we use Google Firebase API, Google Analytics, and Google Maps,” he said.

While Chung is also the Chair of Internal Affairs in SGO, he mentioned that SGO supports the website and will advertise it to students.

He later added the extent to which the administration will control the website.

“We approve the forms based on the guidelines Andrew Barclay gave us. Basically, no alcohol,” he said. Andrew Barclay is the Assistant Director of Student Life, Leadership, and Engagement.

According to Chung, the website will remain under the control of students, and OSE will transfer a master list of events to the team in the future. In the future, OSE emails announcing events will be phased out while the current website will be integrated with the college’s main website.

As of publication, the website has averaged around 130 users and 20 pins per week. Following integration to the college’s home website and further advertisement, the website’s creators hope that the website will further increase community members’ access to campus events.


What you love to hate about Swarthmore

in Around Campus/Campus Journal by

How better to start an article about hating things than by explaining how much Swatties love to complain? If we simply look at the classic, “Anywhere else, it would’ve been an A,” phrase, a sense of gripe seems to envelope the student population, as though letting out complaints will make their pain a little more bearable.

And honestly, on a campus as small as ours, it’s not too hard to find things we can all bond over in loving hatred. Perhaps the best way to show this phenomenon is by talking about Sharples, our favorite place to eat, that sometimes seems as though it was built to hate on. Starting with the wonderful menu that never fails to surprise, all the way to the long tables that are always suspiciously sticky, this tiny ski lodge-like building that serves as our dining hall is the main victim of the strings of complaints handed out by students. Realistically, groaning every time we remember it’s pasta bar, glancing at the options once arrived, and seeing some mysterious food laying out won’t change the fact that we’ll still come back the next day, nor the fact that the same food is the only viable meal option for some of us (*cough, cough* @ freshmen).

Yet even when Swatties choose to skip Sharpling to hit up Essie’s, they can still be found grumbling somewhere about the time Essie’s inconveniently chooses to end meal swipes, forcing them to use their precious points to find some nourishment. For some reason, knowing that they are losing points rather than a measly meal from their plan is enough to drive many over the edge unlocking a floodgate of annoyance and irritation, especially when they miss meals by a whole 30 seconds (don’t mess with those people right away — they’re in a fragile state).

Another classic complaint that is echoed throughout campus is centered around the crushing load of homework almost every student can be found drowning in on any given day of the week. Many voice complaints about how all their non-Swat friends have so much time because they don’t have nearly as much work, and others like to recall simpler times in high school when doing a sheet of problems for math class was the most work they knew. My personal favorites are upperclassmen who’ve studied abroad who come back with tales of “never [having] actually seen the campus” of the school they went to because they had “no work.” Such worlds seem light years away to the sweaty students who slave away, stressing about deadlines and the Internet crashing as soon as they are ready to submit. And man, do they freak.

Whenever the internet is down, it’s as if every student’s worst nightmare has finally caught up to them, and they’re trapped. Everything seems to be calm except for the students who are about to go off the deep end just imagining this newly-missed deadline. Everyone is blamed, from ITS to the Superbowl (at least this past Sunday), and they’re all in a frenzy to find Wifi, and someone to blame, both with equal amounts of vigor.

Obviously, ML is usually among the list of complaints by those that live there, waking up every day knowing they’ll be walking at least 2 miles just to get to class and back to bed. Perhaps students from much larger schools would simply shake their heads at such a complaints, but come on, compared to those living at Parrish, who are literally twenty steps from Kohlberg, MLers have completely founded reasons to yank at their hair and let irritation run through their veins —2 miles is probably a mile more than I walk most Sundays.

As for ‘the hill’, well, I cringe just thinking about it honestly. I mean, it’s so steep and long and wow, I’m tired already. When you have to stand at the bottom and look at it in all it’s glory, Parrish at the very top, it really is beautiful, but every step you take that burns your lungs makes you second guess that beauty. I’m sure most people who do that climb every day are significantly more toned now than they were when they first stepped on campus, but come on, is it really worth it when you’re wheezing by the time you reach the top? I would say maybe, except if you’re headed to Cornell or McCabe, where you’ll just be forced to transfer your complaints of exercise to complaints of homework.

So yeah, we complain left and right and up and down- sometimes, we even manage to make it into a sport. But could we really call ourselves true Swatties if we didn’t bemoan our tremendous amounts of homework or the way Sharples feels like it’s malnourishing us? The truth is no, we probably wouldn’t be- and anyways, what’s a healthy relationship without a little bit of banter?


Kitao proposes “Campus Arts Initiative”

in Arts by

Last Thursday, the co-directors of Kitao Gallery, Tara Giangrande ’16 and Deborah Krieger ’16, sent out a campus wide notice of Kitao’s proposal for a Community Development Grant for the 2016-2017 academic year. The proposal, titled “Kitao Campus Arts Initiative” outlines an ambitious plan for fostering the development of a student arts scene on campus. The next evening, Kitao held an interest meeting to discuss the proposal.

The foundation of this proposal is the belief that the Kitao Gallery, which will potentially be relabeled “Kitao Art House”, can serve a greater function for the artistic community of the college than it has in the past. Krieger identified some of the issues that have historically plagued Kitao, pointing out that in past years Kitao has seen very sparse attendance.

“We’ve been on the board since freshman year and our experience has been, if there was an opening  —  and there was wine and cheese  — then maybe 10 people would come. There were some really great shows that happened my freshman and sophomore years, and I would be sitting and monitoring — it would be during Arts Weekend, on a Sunday — and no one would come,” she said.

Additionally, the proposal finds a basis in the problems with the Swarthmore student art scene elucidated by Colette Gerstmann ’18 in the Phoenix Op-Ed she penned in December. As a result of the success of Kitao events held this past semester, such as the Paint the Walls Party and the Kitao Coffee Houses, the Kitao Board believes that, if given this grant, they will be able to address those issues.

The transformation of Kitao Gallery into Kitao Art House involves both physical and functional changes. One of the most significant proposed changes is that Kitao will be outfitted to function as a studio art space. The Kitao Board plans to stock various art supplies and provide a studio space so that instead of being limited to a place to display art, Kitao will become a place to create art. The Board also plans to refurbish the upstairs of the building, with the aim to create a better social space and facilitate collaborative creativity.

“We would like to start instituting open hours, so that it becomes not only a space that’s open for specific events, but a place where people can come through and collaborate together and be free do whatever their ideas are. The upstairs — there’s a room up there that we would really like to outfit as a cozy hangout/discussion/conversation space where people can go to collaborate that way. We definitely want to make a studio art component available,” Giangrande explained.

The proposal also outlines several planned events, the most prominent of which is the Fall Student Arts Festival, to be held in October. Giangrande explained that this event is meant as a display and celebration of student creativity in all forms.

“We envision it as an event that showcases student art in the broad sense, not just in the academic department sense because there are a lot of artists on campus who aren’t in departmental programs and we really want to provide a space for it to be shown. But also collaborating with the departments,” she said.

The grand plan for this event includes food, exhibitions, art workshops, live music, and more. This event would be a collaborative effort between Kitao and many other arts-related student organizations on campus, such as Olde Club and Oasis.

“Basically, we want it to be an all-day event where people are just in this area, having fun. Outside is going to be a casual space. We want to have easy crafts going on that people can come in and do as they want,” said Giangrande. “In Kitao during the day, we want to have more intensive workshops with guest artists. So, those would be an hour and a half, two hour long workshops during the day for people who really want to gain a skill.”

One of the many collaborating organizations would be the Women’s Resource Center. The Kitao Board has plans to incorporate the WRC into the Fall Student Arts Festival in a way which respects the mission of the WRC.

“WRC will likely be having an exhibition. There’s an art history course going on this semester, “Women in Art”, and we’ve talked to the professor of that, Patricia Reilly. Their findings would be exhibited at WRC,” said Giangrande.

On top of the Fall Student Arts Festival, the Board has proposed holding three Friday Arts Nights throughout the year. These events would be an expanded version of their current Kitao Coffee Houses and would also be a product of increased collaboration with the Women’s Resource Center, Olde Club, and other student artistic organizations. These events, along with Kitao’s new open hours, would allow Kitao to play a significantly larger role in supporting student art. Krieger explained the Board’s goals for the Campus Arts Initiative.

“There are often some really great things on display. We want people to get in the door, we want to prove that art really has a space on this campus that isn’t just in the academic realm,” she said. “We want people to feel that they can be a part of this space.”

College expands one card access

in Around Campus/News by

As a new initiative to modernize, the college is expanding key card access to dorms, academic buildings, and other areas in the near future. This expanded access will allow improvements in campus security and meal plans, among other benefits.

Termed OneCard, the new card system will be similar to those at Haverford and Bryn Mawr, where students can use their OneCard to use library services, access all dorms and most academic buildings, add both cash and points, and even access their account information on their phone.

Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration, noted that expanding OneCard access would likely take three years to phase in.

“Phase one would be hopefully to get all of the residence halls, but certainly the larger ones. There are some quirky buildings that will be harder to do,” said Brown.

He specified that phase one of the project will start this summer, and that only the entrances of residence halls would have key card access, not individual dorm rooms themselves.

“Phase 2 will be academic buildings and importantly labs and art studios, and phase 3 will be to clean up everything else in terms of access,” he said.

Brown is a part of the executive committee overseeing the OneCard project, joined by Dean of Students Liz Braun and Chief Information Technology Officer Joel Cooper. Below them is the steering committee, which is made up of various members of Facilities Management, Public Safety, and the Finance and Investment Office. Below the steering committee are also smaller groups that include student government and deal with OneCard policy.

The executive committee gave an initial trial run of key card access with residents of the Danawell connector. Yanghan Qi ’19 and Aaron Kang ’19, residents of Danawell, shared their opinions of key card access to dorms.

“I believe the keycard system should be adopted by every dorm,” said Qi. “I sometimes even wish we can gain access to our individual rooms with keycards because then we don’t even need to worry about carrying keys around. “Aaron Kang remarked on how the existing key card system in Danawell could be further developed.

“I think it can be improved by only creating key card entrances at the front of the dorm instead of within the dorm. Sometimes, I would forget my key card in my room while doing laundry, preventing me from using the elevator or stairs to go back to my room,” he said. “By expanding key card access to the rest of campus, I think students [will have] an easier time getting into the dorms.”

Perhaps the greatest advantage of the OneCard system is the added functionality it brings to students.

“We’ll be re-carding the whole campus. And we’re going to incorporate card technology that’s tap-to-pay. The system will also focus more on near-field communications, meaning that you’ll be able to use your phone,” said Cooper. This means that a student could potentially get into their dorm or swipe in at either Essie Mae’s or Sharples using only their phone. That added functionality would be potentially extended to other vendors in the Ville, meaning that a student could use the points on their ID at places like Hobb’s and The Co-op.

In addition, a separate committee has been created with Dean Braun, Greg Brown, and the Director of Dining Services, Linda McDougall, to assess possible changes in the dining system with OneCard, since more flexibility with points and cash can be programmed into the card. That committee also includes ten students to allow a diversity of opinions in meal plan restructuring.

“It’s such an important issue on campus,” Dean Braun said of student dining. “We wanted to be thoughtful of different constituencies that have different needs taking into account allergies and dietary restrictions, religious practices, and athletes who often have specialized needs with practice times.”

Director Michael Hill further explained how the expansion of OneCard will make Public Safety’s job much easier.

“OneCard could be used in the event of an emergency to help identify who is within each building, which in a crisis is essential,” he said.  In addition, Public Safety can lock and unlock doors from a central location, meaning that a student won’t need to wait 20 minutes for a pub-safe officer to unlock a dorm for them. In the event that someone is locked out of their dorm, a call to Public Safety would resolve the problem immediately. This added technology also makes it more manageable for public safety to know if there is a propped door somewhere or regulate parties since a student’s age can be programmed into their OneCard.

In terms of the college’s budget, Greg Brown explained that despite the high expenses of the project, the college already included the cost of the OneCard system into the cost of the new suite-style dorms to be built later this year.

“From a budget perspective, yes it’s a big investment, but we’ll be paying it over time. It will be several millions of dollars by the time we finish it,” he said.

Brown believes expanding key card access is a game-changer and a necessary addition that precedes in importance the college’s other long-term capital projects, such as the new suite-style dorms and the BEP building already set for construction.

However, the executive committee noted some implementation issues with OneCard that still have to be addressed, like how long it will take before students can use their OneCards in the Ville or with other vendors outside of campus. Additionally, the question of whether students are allowed 24/7 access to a dorm other than their own must still be addressed. As planning for OneCard continues, Dean Braun and Michael Hill stress that community involvement is essential to the success of the project.

Noémi Fernández wants to give you a pep talk

in Campus Journal by

If you’ve never been to her office in the Matchbox, you may know her from her supportive posts to Yik Yak, or her recent appearance in your inbox. Together with Josh Ellow, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Counselor, and Nina Harris, the Violence Prevention Educator, Noemi Fernández joined the College’s wellness education team last year as the student wellness program manager.


Translation? Noemi Fernández wants to give you a pep talk.


Fernández was born in Mexico to American and Mexican parents, but moved at a young age to Yuma, Arizona. Yuma’s population is heavily influenced by the presence of the military as well as by migrant workers, who follow crop harvests across the West Coast into California’s Central Valley. As a teen, Fernández left the small Southwestern city to attend boarding school in California. From there, she went to Williams College, where she studied Military History and Spanish.


Fernández’ commitment to education began after her undergrad experience, when she became a Spanish teacher and basketball, soccer, and lacrosse coach at a New England boarding school. There, she was also deeply involved in dorm life, working with young women in the dorms and in her advisee group. She then became an admissions counselor at Wellesley, traveling the country to promote women’s education in communities like the one she grew up in.


Fernández explained her decision to move away from the classroom and into other work in education, saying, “I loved the interaction with students in between class. The moments in the corridors or in my office hours, where we weren’t talking about Spanish grammar, but rather their hopes and dreams, their fears and desires and aspirations in life.”

For Fernández, whose arrival at Swarthmore coincided with the opening of the Matchbox, the desire to help students navigate their education has manifested in work with both physical and mental health. Last year, she and Fitness Center Coordinator Eric Hoffman collaborated on a series of Matchbox education sessions, which aimed to introduce students new to the gym to the potentially intimidating high-end equipment in the facility. These events culminated in the now-annual Couch to 5K event, which invited students and community members to set a goal for a 5K run around the border of campus. Runners raised money for the Philadelphia domestic violence prevention group Women Against Abuse. She has also assisted with organizing the annual SwatLift competition.


Of course, for many Swatties, physical fitness is only one obstacle in a laundry list of challenges facing their general wellness.  This is what makes Fernández’ position on campus unique: in one-on-one consultations with students, she provides advice on stress management, sleep habits, and yes—social life. She describes most students practices, saying, “We binge, we cycle. All or nothing. Ten hours in the library, ten hours of Netflix, ten hours in Sharples, ten hours in the lab, ten hours with our friends, ten hours without seeing anybody.”


The best steps for breaking this cycle? Fernández points out that during moments of stress, we lose our ability to analyze a situation rationally. To prevent this, she recommends taking sixty-second breaks to reflect on your habits and how they manifest throughout the day. She also encourages students to learn how to delegate: when working in groups or in extra-curriculars, she emphasizes the importance of trusting others to do their share of the work and not stressing over things that are outside your control.


Fernández is also committed to helping students understand the resources available to them for further help. The hazily defined roles of different campus administrators can make it confusing for a student seeking help to know where to turn during a time of personal crisis. Part of Ferández’s mission is not only to advise students herself, but to help them understand what resources are available to them as they move through the challenging environment Swarthmore provides. She’s able to interpret the slew of acronyms students are thrown when they ask for help (RAs, SAMs, SAs, WAs, S2S, CAPS), as well as to elucidate the roles of different deans and administrators who can help.


“Wellness itself is pretty straightforward. Self-care? Not complicated. Our lives are complicated. And that’s what makes self-care and wellness so hard. You can’t take care of yourself in every single way, every day, all the time; it has to be in pieces,” she notes.


For Fernández, self-care means a monthly manicure and cooking dinner for her family at night. If you can’t figure out what it means for you, then she might be the person to turn to.

Transformational softball (No, really)

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

This spring, we’ve seen an increase in events that we at the Phoenix believe legitimately build community, including the intramural softball league, Spring Fling on Saturday, and, we anticipate, the upcoming Worthstock-LSE combined event.

The intramural softball league has transformed the Sunday lawn from a desolate landscape to a welcoming social space for students lucky enough to be outside the library. Not only does the league change the nature of Swarthmore Sundays, it fills a gap in the social scene by creating a place for non-athletes to play team sports. For those who do not play on a varsity team or a club sport, intramural softball is an opportunity to continue (or begin) an experience of being on a low-commitment, low-pressure team. Thirdly, it provides a distinctly dry activity. While many dry events at the college host students who have been drinking substantially before attending, softball is not of this nature at all. Rather than being a dry party full of students who have been drinking, it is a dry event unassociated with alcohol. While students who choose not to drink for moral reasons may not object to being in a room with others who have been drinking, students who choose not to drink because they are survivors of trauma relating to alcohol may have difficulty sharing a space with their peers who have been drinking. Softball is part of a trend of spaces that have no association with alcohol and are distinctly dry social events.

On Saturday, students gathered on Parrish Beach to share dinner. The lawn has probably never looked so collegiate. While there are plenty of warm weekend days when students gather in small groups to be out in the sun, this particular event seemed to facilitate greater integration in the student body. Beach balls were tossed around, slack lines extended, and the big chair relocated several times. Perhaps the great number of students present was drawn out by the smoothie cart and table of snacks available outside Tarble, or, perhaps it was simply the organized and publicized nature of the event that led to the good turnout. Whatever the effective tactic, we commend SGO and the administration for its success in fostering a sense of community through the event.

The re-organization of the LSE-Worthstock weekend is likely to continue this trend of increased dry outdoor social life on campus this spring. In the past, LSE has taken place as a night-time event with no accompanying activities, making it much like any other major party. This year, instead of booking a major act for that Friday night, the college has arranged for food trucks and laser tag (which will take place on Mertz Field) to precede a performance by a secondary act, TWRK. With the allure of food, students are more likely to come out and enjoy the outdoor event not as a late-night party scene but as an opportunity to mingle with peers and classmates in a more authentic manner. Laser Tag promotes a similar dynamic as intramural softball by encouraging students to get outside and interact with one another in a fresh way.

Worthstock itself will host several new events, rather than the usual picnics and music in the courtyard. There will still be music — in fact, the primary act scheduled for the weekend will be performing on Sunday, rather than the Friday typical of the past. Ghostface Killah and badbadnotgood will be performing. Other entertainment will include outdoor activities (the much advertising rock wall, zip-line, waterslide, and inflatable combination). Notably, the event won’t begin until noon, which will perhaps serve to discourage the extremely early day drinking that has characterized the event in the past.

The new Worthstock, Spring Fling, intramural softball, and other outdoor weekend events this spring have encouraged students to interact with each other in new and positive ways. We are hopeful that these changes will continue to bring about the increased sense of community and social life that campus needs.

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