In addition to the changes in administration and staff the new academic year brought with it, Swarthmore’s policies underwent serious alterations over the summer. Rules and regulations related to planning and hosting events on campus were no exception. According to new student activities coordinator Michael Elias, it was both the lack of clarity and safety within the previous policy that prompted the changes.
“From my conversations with RAs, Party Associates, student leaders, and colleagues in the Dean’s office, it became very clear that students felt the process was somewhat unclear and also cumbersome,” he said in an e-mail. “In addition, after becoming aware of various safety issues that had occurred at events in the past, I felt that it was best to create some improved measures of Party Host accountability, Party Associate [PA] responsibility, and ensure that all necessary campus partners were in communication about when and where events are occurring.”
The changes are not many, nor are they central to the way in which Swarthmore parties will operate, though. Party permits, for example, are now required only if more than 30 people are in attendance, as opposed to the previous ten, and are due at least a week before said party, instead of two days. Permits must now also indicate what type and how much alcohol is being served, if any, at the party, and students over 21 will be provided with a wristband before entering indicating that “they are of the legal drinking age.”
Public safety officers are free to enter parties with and without legal party permits, whereas previously, it was suggested that they would not not “enter registered parties where the permit is displayed unless documented complaints regarding the party are received.” The new policy also sets stricter standards for the amount of Party Associates (PAs) that should be present, depending on the number of guests, and for the amount of times they should be checking in with the hosts during each event.
But most importantly, the party hosting process will now be based out of the student activities office, rather than the drug and alcohol counselor’s office, previously managed by Tom Elverson. According to Beth Kotarski, in fact, “the biggest change is that the new drug and alcohol counselor will be out of the health center. It will not longer be a direct report to a dean. He or she will really take [more of] a clinical and educator role.”
This new drug and alcohol specialist will, apart from dealing with issues of addiction, lead the way in drug and alcohol education. Among several other things, he or she will start campus-wide discussions and provide training for the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team (DART). Candidates are currently being sought for the position.
“The school is looking at all their policies and I think that that’s a positive change,” said Kotarski.
Still, Elias stresses that these are interim policies.
“Over the next several weeks and months, as students work within this process, we will be hosting meetings to receive feedback about the process to guarantee that it’s working as smoothly as possible, while also ensuring that the proper safety measures are also being accounted for and that we are in compliance with state law, and our alcohol and drug policies,” he said. “Receiving student feedback about the new process is incredibly important to me and will be one of my top priorities.”