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SwatTeam chronically understaffed, limiting party options

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Last Saturday, both parties hosted by ENLACE and Phi Psi did not have SwatTeam members present. SwatTeam determines whether or not its members are required to work an event based on the attendance of the party and whether alcohol is being served. Shivani Chinnappan ’18 posted on the Swarthmore College Facebook group seeking SwatTeam members to work at parties that night.

SwatTeam serves as a liaison to Public Safety by carrying out safety measures at parties such as checking IDs, providing crowd control, regulating alcohol that is brought into parties or taken out, providing a safe walk to student’s residences upon the student’s request, and enforcing the end time for parties. Recently, SwatTeam has experienced a shortage of workers.

While ENLACE hosted an open party with no alcohol, so no SwatTeam members were required to be present. Phi Psi had to hold a closed party due to the lack of SwatTeam members working on Saturday.  

Chinnappan, a SwatTeam member and a party host on Saturday, believes that the shortage of workers on Saturday specifically was due to the storm.

[SwatTeam] put a call out for members to work on Friday but we were unaware of how many workers we would need because we didn’t know what parties would be occurring due to the power outage,” Chinnappan said. “On Saturday, we found out that a lot of people had withdrawn, so we told some groups that their party had to be closed.”

However, Chinnappan thinks that the shortage of workers this weekend was related to the more prevalent issue of not holding SwatTeam members accountable for working the shifts they have signed up for. Recently, the scarcity of SwatTeam members willing to work has been an obstacle for the organization.

“I can only speak for the past year, but there are lot of workers who will withdraw last minute,” Chinnappan said. “If you have a lot of people signed up to staff an event, someone might choose not to show up because they think somebody else will. We want to focus more on getting people who say they’re going to work to actually work.”

If there are a lack of SwatTeam members willing to work, organizations may not be able to hold open parties or serve alcohol at them. According to SwatTeam director Eli Kissman ’19 the number of SwatTeam workers that are required to work a party is determined by the size of the space and whether an alcohol permit was submitted.

This number [of SwatTeam members working] is somewhat flexible but there is a general guideline for each space, which is based on the number of exits as well as the size of the space,” Kissman wrote in an e-mail. “We will increase the number of SwatTeam members working at a given event if we believe it will be more popular for any reason.”

A party can be shut down if there are too few SwatTeam members. This is determined based on the order that the alcohol permits were submitted.

According to Mark Hergenroeder ’19, president of Phi Psi, a closed party for the frat means that the party is limited to a smaller capacity than an open party.

We [the brothers] check IDs at the door and manage a spreadsheet of attendance. The most salient difference is that we prefer to limit capacity,” Hergenroeder wrote in an e-mail. “It’s more challenging to ensure a safe party environment with larger capacities.”

Hergenroeder sees the lack of SwatTeam members as a persistent issue for organizations looking to host parties.

I don’t like turning people away, but that’s the unfortunate consequence of being understaffed. We are happy to be flexible and help when possible, but it’s the third time this problem occurred despite having people who I’ve explicitly mentioned are willing to be trained,” Hergenroeder wrote. “This is confusing, unacceptable and unfair to every student organization who hosts.”

According to Hergenroeder, Phi Psi works with SwatTeam to take safety precautions before, during, and after parties.

We follow the list of procedures outlined in the Student Handbook to host parties. We work with SwatTeam in a lot of ways. The most important thing is cultivating a genuine, trustful relationship with them,” Hergenroeder wrote. “Before the event we create a group chat with SwatTeam to ensure easy communication, we identify brothers designated at ‘Party Monitors’ who are additionally resources for them, and we routinely check in with Swat Team throughout the night to debrief.”

Kissman believes that the solution to having enough SwatTeam members to work parties is to hire more members.

SwatTeam is not an easy job, which I think explains the low retention rate. You certainly cannot do your homework while working SwatTeam the way you can in some other jobs. We will hopefully alleviate the shortage of SwatTeam members by hiring new members,” Kissman wrote. “Ultimately if students want to party on this campus, there will be students working SwatTeam because SwatTeam is a requirement for open parties according to the student handbook.”

Regardless of whether SwatTeam hires more members or obtains more people to regularly work parties, the college will continue to require the presence of SwatTeam to ensure safety at parties.

On PubNite and the community it fosters

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Swarthmore has a reputation for being one of the most self-consciously intellectual schools in the country. We should take pride in that label there’s nothing wrong with a school prioritizing academics. The administration’s policies, which were revamped after 2013, make it hard to serve alcohol at or raise money for PubNite. and Pub’s current struggles show that the school has possibly gone overboard in regulating the party scene and by extension the entire campus atmosphere, by making it far too difficult to create communal spaces that help to build community at Swarthmore.

To be clear, not everybody goes to Pub Nite, and it has never been some huge event that commanded the entire school’s attention, at least as far as I can tell. I’ve personally only gone a few times in my brief career at Swat. But it is an example of a fun, social activity that rose organically from the student body, and is run by students. And having a space like PubNite that is always available as a place to meet new people and destress serves an important role on a college campus. There are a lot of opportunities to completely lose yourself in the endless churn of student groups, work, and outside commitments. To have a break on Thursday is a small antidote to that particular kind of rat race; not to romanticize it, but Pub is a good reminder that there’s more to do at Swat than read Kierkegaard or go to finance club meetings. Or, for that matter, to stay in your room and binge watch Rick and Morty.

In fact, wasn’t community the reason that many of us chose to go to a liberal arts college? For all the cliches in Princeton Review college guidebooks and informational settings, it is a self-evident truth that a campus with roughly 1,500 students is going to have a tighter-knit atmosphere than a state school with 30,000 students. So taking steps to promote that sense of place and belonging is important, because even with our extremely small size, there are still a lot of ways to distance ourselves from the wider campus community. In fact, Pub is unique as a communal space, not a group of like-minded people. Its value lies in the opposite: it is really just a random collection of students from across campus, who aren’t there to play a sport (unless you count beer pong) or do political advocacy or publish a newspaper, but just to go to a party, maybe meet some new people, and have a good time. There aren’t really any other opportunities to destress like that during a long week at Swarthmore, and there are few other places where we can make the connections outside of classes and extracurriculars that go toward making Swarthmore an actual community.

But the actual issue at hand is not to wax rhapsodic about how great PubNite is: it’s that the administration has policies in place that make it hard for PubNite to exist. Everybody who has spent any time at Swarthmore can talk about a time when Public Safety arbitrarily shut down a party or when school regulations made it incredibly difficult to even have a party in the first place. Currently, a party cannot accept donations if alcohol is served, leading Pub to fundraise on dry nights and continually scramble for funding. This is obviously exhausting to the students who run Pub, and constantly leaves Pub just scraping by, always at risk. And, of course, many other parties simply don’t happen.  Proponents of the restrictive policies make two main arguments: first, that tighter regulations on school-sanctioned events decrease unsafe drinking habits, and that the previous five-dollar charge for attending PubNite created problems of equal access. For the first argument, the policies actually create the opposite of the intended effect: in a January 2016 article, the Daily Gazette found that incidents tied to unsafe alcohol use generally increased ever since the stricter policies were implemented. In fact, for the school to make it harder to serve alcohol at Pub and other parties is a strange double standard, given that it implicitly accepts drinking in dorms and at private gatherings.

In terms PubNite’s funding issues, if the slight barrier of a five dollar charge is so horrifying to the administration, then why does it not take similarly drastic measures to help students buy pencils and notebooks? If real accessibility problems exist, organizers of PubNite and the campus at large can and should find ways to make PubNite open to all. The creative methods organizers have already used to keep PubNite afloat gives me confidence that the Swarthmore community can find ways to keep PubNite accessible. The idea that students here will passively accept the exclusion of some students from a event open to all seems far-fetched. But heavy-handed, top down intervention from the school will leave us worse off than before. The Phoenix and the Daily Gazette have raised many objections to the restrictions on fundraising and tightened permitting in many articles. The basic fact is that by being hostile to PubNite and to large parties as a whole, the administration is sending all the wrong messages about the type of community it wants Swarthmore to be.

Basically, the administration has a choice. It can continue to make life difficult for people trying to throw parties on campus, thereby making it harder for any kind of campus community to grow. Maybe Swarthmore students will continue to be known as very intellectual and studious, but with the unwanted and negative stereotypes of being antisocial and workaholics as well. Or it can  throttle back its regulation of campus parties, allow Pub to fund itself, and move the social scene in a direction that creates open, communal spaces that help make college fun and bearable.

No more deficit for Paces Cafe

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Paces broke even this past semester, amassing a  gross revenue of $15,000 and a net revenue of $o in the fall. It was the first semester in its over 10-year history that the student-run cafe has not made less money than it has spent. Paces staff credits the café’s newfound success to their recent restructuring, which included menu adaptations and OneCard accessibility.

Last fall, Paces was closed due to an audit from the Business Office. Since reopening, Paces staff has taken steps to revamp its reputation and make changes to its structure on campus. Previously, administration expected Paces to earn at least enough to cover the cost of goods, while the school funded the $30,000 to cover student wages each year. The college backed the café to provide students with a late-night, on-campus food option and offer 40 some student-workers with experience in the food and management industry.

Since Paces’ reopening, Paces management added the café to the OneCard, allowing for more student accessibility. They began purchasing supplies from Dining Services, a more sustainable food supply source than regular runs to a supermarket, and they upped their advertising game through sending weekly meme-filled emails to the campus community. Paces Kitchen Director Henry Han ’20 said their efforts have paid off; in the past semester and a half, they’ve seen an uptick in customer and applicant turnout.

“More and more people want to hang out in Paces now,” he said. “We are seeing more freshman and sophomore applicants, which is a result of our new image.”

Paces received 80 applicants for the spring semester—around 50 of which were for the barback position—and accepted roughly half of them. Four had not worked at Paces in the past.

Even after such success, Paces plans to continue to push forward. Head Director Ahmad Shaban ’19 noted Paces’ ultimate goal is to repay its debt to the college.

“We are determined to be profitable,” he said. “The college has supported Paces for so many years, and I believe that it is time for Paces to be a financial investment.”

To reach such a target, this semester Paces has added new food items to their menu, such as fruit smoothies and turkey-apple-provolone sandwiches. Han, who oversees menu items, said he plans to continuously revamp food options to keep customers interested and excited about the café. Before the end of the semester, he said to look out for some sort of banana-peanut butter smoothie.

Shaban said Paces hopes to serve more Swatties on a more consistent basis. Some ideas for achieving this include the introduction of board games or live student performances to their entertainment menu and reducing cost of menu items and goods. Another: to open on the weekends.

“We want to create a social space for students who do not want to go to PubNite on Thursdays, are bored on Fridays, and do not want to go to the fraternities on Saturdays,” he said. “Since Paces is currently a wet party space during the nights that we want to be open, we are seriously considering moving locations and, perhaps, rebranding the business.”

In this way, increased revenue has allowed Paces more flexibility to work toward its future goals.

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

in Around Campus/Campus Journal by

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

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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.

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