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Revamped Paces Cafe hopeful for greater customer satisfaction

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For the past couple semesters, Paces Cafe has been rapidly changing its policies to be more tailored to the students. This semester, it has continued updating by increasing OneCard access, expanding its staff, and customizing its menu.

For instance, the second semester of the 2016-2017 calendar year saw the cafe introduce the OneCard as a new method of payment. However, the OneCard plan for Paces was unique in that they could only accept Swat Points — which are points used in the Ville — in bundles of $10. Claire Conley ’20, a second-year short order cook, and other members of Paces saw that this was a problem because students were often forced to spend more money if they wanted to use their OneCards.

“At the beginning of Paces last spring, [we] could only take Ville Points in bundles of $10. This led to a lot of frustration as not many people want to be forced into paying $10 if they really only want an Italian soda,” Conley said.

In response, Paces compromised with administration to introduce $5 bundles as well, but this put pressure on Paces instead. Conley said that in order for Paces to sell food last year in bundles of $5 or $10, food items had to be very overpriced or underpriced. However, Conley noted that the transition to the OneCard made the cafe much more accessible and popular to students.

Cindy Li ’20 is one such students who was attracted by the new OneCard option.

“I had never been to Paces until last spring when they started offering the OneCard. However, I found it difficult to go often because I had to spend a certain amount of money each time,” Li said.

To make the OneCard more usable and appealing, Ahmad Shaban ’19, the head director at Paces Cafe, worked over the summer to make key changes to improve customer satisfaction.

We no longer accept cash, but we take Swat Points (off-campus points) and Garnet Cash. This change is helpful because we no longer have to worry about the process of cash handling, and instead, we can focus on the operation. We are happy with this change because now more students can come to Paces and enjoy the beautiful space, the great food and drinks, and the warm, cheerful atmosphere that our staff creates,” Shaban wrote in an email. Paces has already seen a spike in sales this year after the adoption of the new OneCard plan.

Another notable change is that Paces hired an extra barista for every night to cut down the waiting time for food and drinks. Li and other customers said one of the main criticisms last year was that the orders were very backed up, and sometimes drinks and food would come out at totally different times.

“I know as someone who has worked some very busy shifts [that] the second barista is essential. Milkshakes are [difficult] to make, super messy and ingredient heavy,” said Conley. Hiring a barista also allowed other cooks to specialize in their own areas of food; this allows both drinks and food to be ready more quickly.

Li also vouched for this improvement.

“The time for the food to come out this year is definitely faster compared to last year, but it’s still pretty slow. Also, Paces has only been open for several weeks this year so I think once the opening week crowd disappears in a bit, the food will come out even faster,” she said.

The last significant change is the menu itself. Paces wants to introduce more food and drink options. One way they are doing this is by serving vegetarian and vegan options. Paces also hired Henry Han ’20, an experienced former chef to help with menu decisions.

“He makes sure that everything is running smoothly each night, but as a former chef himself, he wants to talk with the people that work at Paces about sprucing up the menu. I am super excited about this, because one of my favorite things that Paces does is specials,” Conley said.

These three physical changes focus not only on improving the customer experience but also the worker experience. Conley hopes that an increase in customers will bring in enough revenue to pay the workers more.

“Another goal is to eventually make a profit to the point where they can pay the workers and be independent of the college. Right now our revenue covers the cost of food, but we don’t make enough money to pay our workers hourly wages,” Conley said.

Paces continues to take student feedback to help improve the experience. It will be exciting to see how the cafe will continue to change in the future.

OneCard Reviews: Pace(s) Yourself for This Dish

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Did you miss me, CJ readers? I hope so. After running out of OneCard restaurants to review, I’ve felt a little lost this semester. My reviews were once a bi-weekly testament to how much I love food. Now that Paces Cafe has OneCard, I have one last review, and thus one last chance to solidify myself in food review history. Sure, the Phoenix’s Campus Journal might not have the journalistic clout of the “New York Times” food section, but here we are.

Student-run and operating out of the same space that hosts keg parties on Thursdays and Sundays, one would expect its ambience to range from sad to non-existent. Created almost solely by fake flowers in empty wine bottles, the overall atmosphere feels slightly contrived, but so do these reviews, sometimes. The blue walls and bright red mural behind the bar are familiar sights to most Swarthmore students, but when the lights are on and there isn’t any alcohol being served, Paces is bright and chipper under the presumably fluorescent lighting. Paces’ two stairs divide it in half, and the two sides create vastly different spaces for sipping on milkshakes and eating the closest thing to homemade food Swatties can get on campus.

I hadn’t been to Paces until after spring break, when some of my friends had the idea to go. Initially reluctant because I still wasn’t sure how their pricing worked, once I got there I discovered that I had been missing out. With seemingly infinite milkshake options, I realized that my future had been fundamentally changed. Rather than relying on Sharples ice cream for my dessert needs, I can create my own milkshake destiny at Paces.

Paces Cafe’s menu appeals well to their target audience, the late night snacker. They have breakfast foods as well as savory dinner options for those who just can’t eat breakfast after dark. My first time at Paces, I ordered the pancakes with berries and white chocolate chips, hold the white chocolate chips. While waiting for my pancakes, I pondered just what to call the meal that I was about to eat. Combining breakfast and lunch is brunch, but what does one call combining breakfast and dinner? Binner? Dreakfast? Breakinner? Dinnerfast? These are the kinds of questions that I am completely unprepared to answer simply because there is no good answer. Having breakfast for dinner needs no title besides ‘delicious.’ My pancakes thankfully came before I spent too much time trying to create a new word for the extra meal that I was adding to my day.

The pancakes looked thick and fluffy, not unlike an edible version of the adorable dogs that run up and down Magill Walk on weekend afternoons. The berries added a slightly tart dimension that balanced the sweet pancake. Nearly perfect — except for being slightly burnt on the bottom — the pancake was filling and tasty. Lightly dolloped with whipped cream, I had to fight off some well-intentioned friends who wanted to get in on the goodness topped on my meal. The dish was a good capstone to a long day but did not quite fulfill my wildest breakfast dreams.

In my two subsequent trips to Paces, I ordered the avo-toast. The first time, it came out on a thin piece of toast with halved cherry tomatoes, and the second time it was the nightly special and came on a thick piece of toast with lots of small, diced tomatoes. I found the variety within the same dish ordered on different days to be intriguing and unique. Both toasts, however, had the same fundamental elements. The avocado smeared on the crunchy toast was quite thick and at times overpowered the tomatoes. However, at the key moments of the dish, the crunch of the bread, the savory tomato, and the avocado combined to create a trifecta of delicious flavors. All of the elements have vastly different textures and flavors that make each bite different. The differences between the elements of the dish contrast each other and make a meal that is not too exciting, but also not too boring. A late night snack has to strike a balance between not having enough flavor and being overwhelming late at night.

Paces Cafe is a great way to spend your Swat points without having to walk all the way to the Ville. If you can figure out their red-tape riddled pricing system, you are on your way to a decent meal. More relaxed than Essie’s, smelling slightly more like beer, sitting in the dingy but cheerful room is a fun and tasty way to end your day.

Paces reopens with new OneCard vendor status

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The beginning of March came with the long-awaited reopening of student-run Paces Cafe. On March 12, the cafe resumed operating at full capacity after undergoing an audit, which was resolved in late February.

According to a previously published Phoenix article, Paces was under audit because of its old bookkeeping practices and for accepting cash as a form of payment. The cafe reopened as a newly authorized OneCard vendor, a development that has been a longstanding desire of students.

Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Anthony Coschignano explained why Paces was added to the OneCard program.

After the audit was completed it was determined that solely accepting OneCard would be best for the program as it would make access and tracking the simplest for all involved to the program,” he said.

Raffaella Luzi Stoutland ’17, the Head Director of Paces, explained what spurred the decision to become a OneCard vendor.

“The biggest challenge was just competing with all the other businesses that were put on the OneCard. While before we were competing almost on the same level with them because we were both taking cash, once they could accept Points we were pretty far behind in terms of marketability. We weren’t very appealing to people who could use their Points elsewhere,” she said.

The move to OneCard, as observed by barista Arka Rao ’18, has proved to be successful in attracting customers. Rao, who has worked at Paces every spring since his freshman year, noticed a significant change.

The OneCard has definitely brought more traffic as a whole. My sophomore year as a barista was certainly less busy than now. The first day I worked this semester, March 12, was somewhat busy but manageable since there’s two baristas during each shift now, and the options were restricted to only $10 deals. However, my second day, March 20, was super busy for almost the entire time. The other Monday night barista and I made more drinks combined than I’ve personally ever seen in one night,” he said.

Paces’ status as a OneCard vendor is tied to the fact that they no longer accept cash or credit cards for purchases. Coschignano briefly mentioned the change made in regards to this restriction.

“Transactions as a part of Paces opening are set to a one-time dollar limit per transaction, and that limit may change based on activity and special events,” he said.

This alludes specifically to the temporary practice of capping transactions at $10 upon the initial reopening. The cap was comparable to Essie’s Late Nite Snack option, where a meal swipe can be used in transaction up to a maximum of $7. However, Paces’s system was organized such that any transaction made would be an automatic deduction of $10 off of one’s Swat Points, and that unlike Essie’s, meals cannot be used nor could the transaction cap be changed.

“Basically, you can only swipe $10 at a time. That’s the biggest change for our consumers. We’ve set up combos that people can choose from in order to reach the $10 value. It’s the same menu, it’s now just that the way you buy from it is a bit more restricted,” Stoutland explained.

With all of the positivity surrounding Paces’ move to OneCard, there are challenges that may befall the cafe. For example, since Paces exclusively accepts Swat points, the cafe runs the risk of being inaccessible to students when they start running low on Points during the latter part of a semester. Stoutland does acknowledge the possibility that issues like this that may arise.

“One challenge that we thought about what people off campus who don’t have a meal plan: could they come to Paces at all? It’s not in the books yet to accept cash at all at the moment, but you can always put cash onto your OneCard. Just like you could before, you can load your card with money. The challenge would be to remind people that that is an option if they really want to come to Paces and are out of points,” she said.

The $10 price cap, too, is an issue of salience as Stoutland explained.

“The price cap is also a challenge, both for us and for customers, since people don’t always want to spend $10. For us, it does skew consumer trends a little bit because we don’t necessarily know what people want to order; we only know what they would order if they had to spend $10. The challenges can be overcome though,” she said.

However, the price cap, though it presented challenges, was the most realistic for the cafe to cover their costs.

“Our main idea was to try to cover food costs as best as possible while giving the highest range of options with the cap. Five dollars or $10 were our two options; with $5, it doesn’t quite cover the cost of sandwiches in the real world. While we used to charge $5 in cash, once we got the OneCard it was important for us to actually charge what the food item was worth, and it’s closer to $6 or $7 … We really wanted something based on our milkshake price that could either be singles or doubles. With $10, you could really get items that evened out pretty well … it was our first try, so it’s not perfect,” Stoutland explained.

The cap was not long-lived. Paces was open for eight days with the $10 cap before the announcement was made that all items on the menu were now $5. Rao observed that students seemed to be reacting positively to the switch.

“The change to $5 options (and the free drink refills) seems to be a popular decision and a good incentive for sure. I think it’s a good change and a sign of the hard work our managers have been putting in, and these decisions have been marked with successes already,” he said.

Another question was raised concerning the type of Points to be used at Paces. The cafe only accepts Swat Points, meaning that it has the technical designation as an off-campus vendor. Stoutland explained that this was the best option for the direction of Paces.

The thing with this is that the Ville [Swat] Points allows us to be autonomous. Points on campus are for dining services because of the way they’re processed and because of the fund they’re coming out of. Because we don’t want to be dining services, we want to be something independent, and we want to remain student run and student involved, we’re on the Ville [Swat] Points,” she said.

The future of Paces looks bright, as student workers maintain positive outlooks on the new changes. Henry Han ’20, one of Paces’ two chefs, spoke about his expectations for future service.

“Since switching to the OneCard, we have had a drastic increase in customers. As we advertise more and as all the workers become acclimated to the new system, I expect that our food will be served faster and will be of even higher quality. I also think our customer base will grow a lot more,” he said.

Rao, too, believes that Pace’s new format does good for the business and maintains that challenges can be overcome.

“I definitely think the current format of Paces has a lot of advantages. Having a second barista (shoutout Sergio) really helps us be efficient with drinks, which are turning out to be some of the most popular items on the menu. The most salient challenge that I can imagine would be dealing with the increased traffic, but I believe it’s in our capacity to handle more customers than before. I’m really happy for the team, especially the managers, since Paces is already super popular and I hope it stays that way. It’s great to see the results of everyone’s hard work so soon. I’m looking forward to working the rest of the semester!” he said.

From a management perspective, Stoutland spoke brightly about Paces and what it means to those who frequent it.

Students are really excited to be working at Paces, to have Paces again as an option. I think it’s mostly been morally really great, so even if management is still working out kinks on how to stay open and what to do about that, at least we have it [Paces],” she said.

With the remaining six weeks in the semester, Paces will learn how to navigate its new OneCard transaction policy, as well as the changes made to the menu and format of service. Although it seems that the new additions have been received smoothly, it remains to be seen if the cafe will maintain the increased levels of traffic it has been experiencing.


Pending Audit Results, Paces Cafe Slated to Reopen

in Around Campus/News by

Paces Cafe, which has been closed since the end of the fall 2016 semester due to an auditing process conducted by the Business Office to investigate Paces’ business practices, is expecting to reopen after spring break as a member of the OneCard Program.

According to Raffaella Luzi Stoutland ’17, the Head Director of Paces, this audit has been ongoing throughout the spring semester and will be completed by Feb. 27.

“[The audit is due to] issues the Business Office had with the handling of cash at Paces, with bookkeeping practices, and with receipt tracking. … [Paces] is basically undergoing some investigations into the practices currently, but more importantly, putting in processes that we can follow in the future,” Stoutland said.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Gregory Brown confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 15 that Paces is now currently on the right track of reopening.

“We had a very productive meeting [Monday] afternoon with the Paces leadership team, and I believe we’re on a good path to a successful re-opening of Paces later this semester,” said Brown.

The Paces staff has been working with the college administration since the end of last semester to work out the trajectory of the cafe. Stoutland met with Brown this Tuesday, and discussed future plans as well as the relation of the cafe to the Visioning Process Report of the college.

The report, released this month, asserts that “strategies will be implemented through capital planning projects” to help “inspire students to pursue their passions and provide support their efforts to achieve a reasonable equilibrium between academic and co-curricular pursuits.”

Stoutland elaborated on Paces’ plan of reopening after spring break.

“We’re looking at a tentative opening after spring break. We are reworking our financial and accounting procedures and we are hoping to set up some long term plans that integrate Paces into the Visioning Process of Swarthmore,” Stoutland said.

Part of these new financial procedures is the authorization of the use of OneCard at the cafe. To become part of the newly incorporated OneCard program this year, businesses must meet specific financial standards in order to be a part.

“Paces asked to join the program, and as a result of their request, we are completing a review of their business practices.  During the course of the review, we identified several areas of concern regarding the need to improve their business practices, and we are working with Paces to resolve the open issues,” said the Director of Auxiliary Services, Anthony Coschignano.

According to Coschignano, any merchant looking to join the program must undergo a successful review process, and agree to specific record-keeping and data security standards.

In order to meet these standards, Stoutland and the Paces leadership have been working with the OneCard office and administration to present business plans and financial projections. After a semester of screening, Paces will be accepting SwatPoints on OneCard in the near future.

“It looks like the only way we would open will be on OneCard without taking out any cash or credit … should we open after spring break, it will be on OneCard, and in the future, Paces will probably be accepting OneCard,” Stoutland said.

According to Stoutland, the administration has been supportive in the audit and the OneCard authorization, though sometimes effective communication has been lacking.

“It looks like Paces though should probably have more direction coming from dining services and OneCard and coming from the business office. So it’s not that we haven’t had support, I just think that the way that the support has been structured hasn’t always been the most productive … Mostly it’s just been miscommunications and circumvent[ive] communications … so the support is there, but it just really wasn’t reaching us,” said Stoutland.

As a member of the 2016 orientation committee, Luke Barbano ’18 suggested that students would want Paces to be on OneCard during their OneCard briefing, and he was surprised with the administration’s perplexing astonishment. As a frequenter of Paces, he also witnessed the tedious process that Paces had to go through to get the authorization.

The OneCard office has made Paces go in order to demonstrate its viability as a profitable enterprise (i.e. requesting seemingly endless revisions of business plans, countless budget proposals,  profit projections that were nearly impossible to make, etc.) It seemed like an unnecessary number of hoops to jump through given Paces’s seemingly low stakes (it’s not a multinational corporation) and the ease with which OneCard capabilities can be granted (I’m sure there’s some bureaucratic administrative red tape to deal with but it’s not rocket science),” wrote Barbano in his email.

Although Paces is an on-campus organization, its position on the OneCard will be with SwatPoints, the Points that are used in the Ville, rather than regular Points which are used at other on-campus dining options. This structural difference is because Paces is run by students rather than the college’s dining services.

“We are kinda in this weird limbo place where we are clearly part of the Swarthmore College [community], … but they’re sort of treating us like an outside partner of Swarthmore College,” Stoutland said.

Stoutland further explained Paces’ awkward position as a student-run business on campus and how that aspect has impacted on its OneCard authorization.

“We’re student-run, and in that sense, we aren’t part of the dining services, so we wouldn’t be part of the Points and meal points. We’ll be part of the new part of OneCard, but we’re also not exactly an established business, so there’s a lot of checks and balances they wanted us to go through that I don’t think the other businesses went through,” Stoutland said.  

Despite the long process of authorizing it, Stoutland believes that the OneCard is a good addition because it makes the business more accessible.

“[We] struggle to keep prices as low as possible, and much lower than they would’ve been in the normal market, because we really want people to have access to Paces, and OneCard is really the solution that no matter what someone’s personal finances are, they can still experience the space where all students should be experiencing, and the food is really good,” Stoutland said.

When asked about Paces’ next step, Stoutland was very optimistic and said the biggest focus for Paces’ right now was to reopen as soon as possible.

“We’re looking at what accounting practices we’re putting in place […] in terms of where we get our food and where we get our supplies, also sustainability practices, a lot of our stuff is compostable so we’re just double-checking that everything can be composted. Our main goal is to reopen as soon as possible this semester, like I said, soon still means probably weeks so, and then to figure out what it means for Paces to be open in the long term as well,” said Stoutland.

Luke Barbano believes that OneCard is also going to help Paces compete with other restaurants and cafes on campus and in the Ville with the growing competition with other restaurants and cafes on campus and in the Ville, since most of them already have OneCard.

“One only needs to look to the Ville merchants to see how OneCard has dramatically increased their business traffic. […] Given the student body’s widespread enthusiasm for Paces, the nearly excessive number of Points that accompany any of the currently offered meal plan options, the cafe’s convenience, and its charming novelty, it’s reasonable to expect that Paces would experience a similar boost in business. They will make a lot of money,” Barbano said.

After a nearly clear path to reopening, managers at Paces and some students see the cafe as a viable place of business and one for students to enjoy on campus given that the OneCard becomes a part of the cafe’s program.

Bring back Paces Cafe and all that it represents

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

Our tagline, printed below the name of the paper on every issue and on our website, is “Swarthmore’s independent campus newspaper since 1881.” Although the specific stylings, voice, and reputation of the Phoenix change over time as Editorial Boards come and go, we have always been an independent, student-run organization. We are proud of this and as such, support the continued existence and autonomy of other independent, student-run organizations on campus. We believe that independent student-run organizations are a crucial part of the lessons in leadership, entrepreneurship, adaptability, self-sufficiency, and community-building that lie at the heart of the liberal arts education and constitutes the college’s mission. In conjunction with these beliefs, we at the Phoenix advocate for the prompt reopening of Paces Café with the capacity to accept payment via OneCard.

A Feb. 13 news article published by the Daily Gazette explains that while Paces prepared to begin accepting the OneCard in the near future, college staff audited the café’s finances, placing the future of the cafe in question pending the audit’s completion. While the Phoenix supports best practices for managing the finances of any student group on campus and advocates for transparency in any institution, the timing of this audit at such a critical point in the cafe’s history should not be accepted without question. College staff should have been more open to defining and delineating the college’s relationship with Paces Cafe before the situation reached the point at which Paces needed to be closed. If more conversation between Paces staff and the college had occurred, students who relied on their income from working at the cafe would still have a job.

While we at the Phoenix understand that college students should not operate with complete, unsupervised autonomy in all cases, we encourage the college to avoid reducing opportunities for students to work and benefit the community through independent activities. Opportunities for experiential learning, which many extracurricular and cocurricular activities offer, are directly in line with the College’s stated mission to train students to lead full, balanced lives as individuals and to live as responsible citizens through exacting intellectual study supplemented by a varied program of activities. Thus, the Phoenix encourages the preservation of spaces like Paces Cafe and the Student Budget Committee that heavily operate on and are shaped by students’ own operations.

We at the Phoenix also believe that being able to accept payment via OneCard is key to ensuring the future success of Paces. It seems clear that implementation of the OneCard program without including Paces was a significant factor in the financial difficulties Paces experienced over the last semester. Allowing Paces into the OneCard program without attaching extra administrative oversight from the college is an important step in not only allowing Paces to become increasingly self-sufficient but to make Paces more accessible to a diverse pool of students.

Funding concerns stress Pub Nite

in Around Campus/News by

Halfway through Pub Nite on Thursday, Jan. 18, Pub Nite, party organizers climbed on top of the bar and announced that they only had enough money for three more Pub Nites this semester. They hoped were to convince regular Pub Nite attendees to contribute money to their dwindling savings. Ever since Pub Nite was disallowed from collecting the four dollar entry fee from students in 2014, the tradition has struggled to stay alive. Both organizers and attendees have been questioning the security of the future of Pub Nite.

“Student groups [can] request funding support to provide food, cups, and other event related needs. Pub Nite is taking advantage of that funding support and has taken advantage of it in the past as well,” said Assistant Director of the Office of Student Engagement Andrew Barclay.

Pub Nite organizer Chris Grasberger ’17 indicated funding from the OSE is not enough to keep Pub Nite going due to costs for alcohol.

“This semester, we’ve raised about $600 so far. We need about $3,000 for the whole semester,” he explained.

Organizers are limited in the number of methods they can use in order to raise funds for Pub Nite. According to another Pub Nite organizer, Dylan Gerstel ’17, they have utilized Gofundme and Venmo, in addition to an attempt at tabling last semester, which was not very successful at bringing in funds.

Although Pub Nite is now free, attendance rates have not increased since this change.

“It’s strange because now, week in [and] week out, you can just go to Pub Nite for free,” Grasberger explained.

“I think the spirit has stayed the same, though I think the popularity has gone down,” echoed Daniel Banko-Ferran ’17.

“I think Pub Nite is important because Swarthmore has a reputation of everyone working all the time with no reprieve, [so it is important] to have an agreement that Thursday night is Pub Nite and that’s an opportunity to relax and have fun,” Banko-Ferran stated, indicating that Pub Nite comprises a significant part of Swarthmore’s social scene.

“Pub Nite, in some senses, is like a frat party, but it’s not a frat. I’m looking for a certain thing in a party space, and for me, it’s always been really important because it’s a space that’s always been a little more open and less hyper-masculine,” added Saltzman.

The lack of funding, coupled with decreased popularity, has caused the future of Pub Nite  to appear questionable.

“At the rate that we’re going right now, I don’t think we could have Pub Nites every week this semester,” Gerstel admitted.

Grasberger echoed these sentiments and felt doubtful about the future of Pub Nite. He shared why he felt Pub Nite might come to an end.

“Especially with the frats being shut down right now, that means essentially that all the parties have to run off of donations, which is even more competition for people’s money. Between NuWave and Pub Nite, [it’s going to be a challenge],” he stated.

Saltzman, however, offered a more optimistic outlook on the future of Pub Nite.

“I realistically think that Pub Nite will stick around. There’s just work to do. It’s not impossible to get the money,” he said.

“In the last few years it’s worked out fine. There’s also a good mix of underclassmen who attend Pub Nite and are going to want to keep the tradition going,” Saltzman stated.

“It’s up to students to organize and plan Pub Nite, so there is always a chance that it could end if no students plan it. I do plan on working with the current group of Pub Nite organizers to help identify and transition a new group of students into that role,” Andrew Barclay confirmed.

The varying opinions on the future of Pub Nite, in addition to the frats being sanctioned, could cause one to wonder what the future of parties at Swarthmore is.

“The administration is making it kind of hard for students to take parties into their own hands. They’ve been cracking down on everything pretty much. In our freshman year, we were allowed to have hard alcohol at parties … Steadily, it’s become more and more like they don’t trust the students to behave respsonsibly, and that’s made it harder to throw parties,” Grasberger explained.

“It’s also legal issues, it’s kind of like the administration’s hands are bound because of national scrutiny. However, the fact that this year a bunch of things at Worth have been shut down, the fraternities have been shut down, and funding for Pub Nite and Nu Wave being questionable — it’s kind of sad what [the party scene] will look like,” Gerstel also highlighted. Grasberger and Gerstel believe dorm parties could become the new norm as alternatives to frat parties and Pub Nite.

“I think the outside perception of Swarthmore is that we don’t have actual parties, we just drink in a dorm and then lay in the grass and publicly smoke,” said Istra Fuhrmann ’19. Without spaces like Pub Nite, this could become more of a reality on campus.

Hosting smaller dorm parties could also take a toll on inclusivity in Swarthmore’s party scene.

“Parties will find a way, I just think the biggest problem will be inclusion. People will be having smaller and smaller parties where people are drinking with a tight knit group of friends, which is great but I think one of the coolest parts about Swarthmore was always that I could go to any party and get in, and I’ll know people there. That’s not the case with a lot of other schools,” said Gerstel.

The final plan of action for Pub Nite organizers is to reach out to alums. Grasberger stated that they could largely impact on Pub Nite’s prosperity.

“Alums should donate, I think that might be the best long term solution. Once I graduate and get a job, I certainly plan on donating to Pub Nite. If only a few alums donate, that would be a big help,” he said. The future status and sustainability of Pub Nite remain to be seen.

Swarthmore Police can listen in on Pub Safe walkie-talkies

in Around Campus/News by

As dry week came to an end on Saturday, September 3rd, party spaces at Delta Upsilon (DU) and Paces were opened. By the end of the night, Paces was closed voluntarily and DU was closed through the intervention of the Swarthmore Borough Police Department. Swarthmore police arrived on campus after listening to both the radio frequencies of public safety and receiving emergency calls. By the end of the night, officers issued two citations for underage drinking.

The two citations were issued to students that Chief of the Swarthmore Borough Police Brian Craig termed “grossly intoxicated.” He further detailed the role police played on the first parties of the year.

“In every instance last weekend, we were responding to something,” he said. “One call was a person requiring medical attention. The other instances we monitored Swarthmore College’s Public Safety radio band just like we do for other police departments in the area. The officer heard people, for lack of a better term, screaming for help and responded to those requests for assistance.”

At around 12:30 a.m., Swarthmore Police arrived on campus and talked to a member of DU. This came after police monitored public safety radio frequencies and learned that both severely ill students had come from the party at the fraternity house. During this time, SwatTeam had requested for more help at the entryway of DU due to overcapacity issues. At the suggestion of police, the fraternity decided to shut down the party. The party space at Paces was closed down voluntarily, without police intervention, after the shutdown of DU in an attempt to prevent partygoers from getting cited by police.

When Public Safety interacts with SwatTeam or other individuals over radio, the Swarthmore Police can listen in. This power can even extend to tuning in to SwatTeam members’ communication on handheld radios issued by public safety, provided that the radios operate on the same frequency as Public Safety radios. Director of Public Safety Michael J. Hill explained that SwatTeam’s radios are generally on a different frequency than Public Safety’s. In the case of an emergency, a SwatTeam member must manually change frequencies to talk to a Public Safety officer. It remains unclear how much communication Swarthmore Police could have heard between SwatTeam and Public Safety on the night of September 3rd.

Chief Craig explained that the police listen to Public Safety’s radio frequency to cut down the time it takes for public safety to contact the police in the case of an emergency. When Public Safety needs to contact the police, they can only do so through calling 911. The ability for the police to listen directly to public safety’s radio frequency mitigates this delay.

While Swarthmore Police can enter the campus at any time, Chief Craig repeatedly stressed that the police are not primarily concerned with underage drinking when they go on patrol around campus. He referenced the very small number of citations issued to students for underage drinking, relative to other schools. He also mentioned the department’s diversionary program that clears away a citation given a completed amount of community service and alcohol education classes.

“People throwing parties have very specific responsibilities. If they met those responsibilities, you’d never see us,” he said. “We routinely patrol the campus but do not target the campus. The citations were confined to the most obvious violations.”

The involvement of police on the first Saturday of the year surprised Rose Ridder ’19, a SwatTeam manager working at DU that night.

“To me, it was a surprise when the police showed up because there hadn’t been much police interaction last semester. I only started managing January of last year and for the days I’ve managed we haven’t had the police on campus shutting down a party,” she shared. “Of course, the first parties of the year are the most dangerous and that has science and statistics behind it. I think it’s kind of expected that the police knew to look out for it. I guess they were more attentive to parties that weekend.”

On the subject of whether there will be increased involvement of the police on campus, both Swarthmore Police and campus Public Safety are in agreement. Chief Craig said that the Swarthmore Police have neither the resources nor the desire to assign an officer to the campus. Furthermore, Craig emphasized that if activities are held responsibly within the confines of Pennsylvania law, police involvement is not necessary. Hill believed that police presence on campus has been pretty consistent over time, and he does not foresee that changing.

Interrogating how we party in the post-save-pub-nite era

in Campus Journal/Columns/Swassip Girl by

From what I can tell, institutional memory at Swarthmore lasts like, four seconds. Unless you really drill the upperclassmen or do some hardcore Phoenix digging, the most you will probably pick up about Swarthmore’s recent history by passively existing here is that the Administration does Bad Stuff and should really Listen To Us and Something Something Alcohol Policy Changes. But for a few buzzphrases (“Crunkfest,” “funnels,” “Did you know Childish Gambino played Upper Tarble in 2012?”), the Swarthmore College that existed prior to my arrival here is mostly lost to me. This, I assume, is the nature of limited access to institutional memory — things get lost.

Pub Nite, as it currently exists, is a free weekly event:  part dance party, part standing near that cute girl from seminar while holding a cup. In contrast to frat parties, it has a reputation for fluorescent lights, goofiness, and a casual, communal atmosphere. Though most of that description has been true for years, the “free” part has not. Pub Nite — here’s a recent institutional history lesson — used to be a fundraiser. Every Thursday, students forked over a four-dollar entry fee that went toward financing senior week activities and, crucially, the night’s kegs and cups. With the 2014 changes to the alcohol policy, the fundraising function of Pub Nite was banned, and with it the usual means of purchasing the watery beer the women’s rugby team seems to like so much. Online donations became the only available source of Pub Nite income and the future of weeknight pong games hung on the balance. Pub Nite’s survival began (and continues) to solely depend on a collective remembered love for a thing — a big enough collective remembered love to inspire regular student contributions of money, time, and energy.

As previously noted, our track record for institutional memory is grim. At first glance, however, that does not seem to be the case. When Pub Nite was announced to be at risk for dissolution last year, the campus was up in arms. The thought of a world sans hungover Friday morning lectures appeared to traumatize the student body. In the online comments section of the Phoenix exposé of the Pub Nite problem, an inspired cohort of alumni sang undying praises for this tried and true Swarthmore institution and threatened to stop donating to the college as a result of such an ignoble fallout. My favorite gem of passive-aggressive anger in the thread: “my double-legacy children can now look forward to a lifetime of being subtly pressured to attend Oberlin. Lucky them!” I was newly arrived on campus at the time and had never attended Pub Nite, but impassioned posts flooded my Facebook feed, encouraging me to support the cause if I wanted my future to include singing American Pie with drunken pseudo-strangers (which I totally did and still do).

As such, I anticipated a cure-all student uprising. All I got, however, was an increasingly slow-going GoFundMe site. Though Pub Nite has been “saved” for three semesters now, Swatties have mustered up less and less enthusiasm with each round of donations and I’ve heard no rumblings of a more permanent solution. I’m not holding my breath, but a small part of me hopes that desperate times will rouse people to act. In my favorite movie, “Empire Records” (a shitty but entirely endearing 90’s teen dramedy), a group of employees “save” their independent record store from being sold by hosting a late night benefit party and a rooftop rock performance. Kids on skateboards storm the storefront, shout, “Damn the man! Save the empire!” and fill plastic jugs with the requisite nine thousand dollars. I realize that “Empire Records” is fiction, but given how much love everyone advertises they had for Pub Nite (and, I admit, given my ever-present desire for my life to look like a teen movie), I really did expect a little bit more than a GoFundMe by now: an Olde Club show, an OSE sit-in, a hashtag, a telethon, a devoted senior standing outside Paces with a clipboard and a dream. I wanted a protest, a petition, a strongly worded letter! Where was the Parrish rooftop benefit rock concert? Damn the Man! Save Pub Nite!

Already, though, the GoFundMe for this semester did not reach its five thousand dollar goal. Unless some extra measures are taken, I don’t see how the GoFundMe could reach that same goal next semester, or any semester after that. Is Pub Nite going to die? And if it is dying, should we keep trying to rescue it? In a world hell-bent on rapid change, to try to keep things as they are is, in a great many cases, a noble, if futile, act. I think of museums and my middle school diaries and colonial reenactment towns and baby pictures. I fully support those passionate and stupid enough to throw themselves into “saving” something from the natural entropic tendency to disappear with passing time, but the payoff of those efforts is never the continued existence of the saved thing, but rather a memory of that thing — it will never again be the 18th century in colonial Williamsburg and baby pictures don’t stop anyone from aging. No amount of money will preserve Pub Nite in amber forever. To “save” something is relative and temporary, but, arguably, not useless.

As is, only half of the current student body has ever known a pre-Save-Pub-Nite! Pub Nite. Those in the 2016 and 2017 class years did, but soon they will graduate and if nothing is done, the memory of that Pub Nite will leave with them. Assuming the donation decrease stays its course, Pub Nite will eventually sputter to a halt, and it will make a lot of people, myself included, very sad. The Pub Nite that I know, though, is not, and could never have been, the Pub Nite that existed to fund senior week. I only know a Pub Nite that was kept alive for its own sake by the sheer strength of memory (and the donations that memory warranted). “Remembering,” it seems, is not only an action verb, but a community effort and a ticking clock. Soon, maybe, memories of Pub Nite will be exclusively secondhand.

Do not be confused when the kegs run dry for good. The final Pub Nite, whenever it may come, will be devastating, but should probably not surprise you. That being said, it could be prevented, or at least delayed. There’s enough money in the pockets of Swatties to support Pub Nite semester after semester, but our collective remembered love for it will naturally dwindle. Maybe it’s worth the energy to convince incoming class ater incoming class of the urgent need to save something that started dying before they got here, but if not, we can’t maintain a collective remembered love for Pub Nite when no one is left on campus to do the remembering. Even if someone were to swoop in with a million dollars dedicated to the infinite perpetuation of the event, even if something called Pub Nite happened in Paces every Thursday with boundless quantities of Natty Lite and a playlist of sing-a-long favorites, would that be Pub Nite “saved” once and for all, or would it be a nostalgic mimicry — Pub Nite a la colonial reenactment town? It might be sadder if the collective remembered love for Pub Nite were to die out before Pub Nite did. My endorsement is this: At Pub Nites past, I have had moments of such complete stupid joy that I cannot fully comprehend a life at Swarthmore without it. Pub Nite is special and weird and sweaty and wonderful. For the short time that I’ve known it, I love Pub Nite a heck of a lot. I hope that we don’t let it go without a good fight. I’m not prepared for a permanent Closing Time.

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