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On the role of PubSafe

in Columns/Opinions/Words of Wagner by

As the first half of the semester has gone by, returning students have noticed changes in the way that Public Safety has been interacting with students, from specific changes like PubSafe’s official Building Patrol Notice as well as general shifts in campus drinking culture that are attributed to stricter enforcement of drinking policies by Public Safety. These changes inspire reflection on what kind of campus students want to have, and whether it is attainable in the fact of campus policies and state laws. Public Safety’s job, first and foremost, is to keep students safe, and I am incredibly grateful that I feel like I can walk alone at night around campus and have someone to call if I was in an emergency. However, recent shifts feel like they have crossed a line from keeping students safe to keeping them in line.

The Building Patrol Notice has the best of intentions: get students to stop leaving their expensive items around campus and make them lock their doors. These are noble causes. I personally make sure to lock my door whenever my roommate and I aren’t in our building. It’s more secure to keep doors locked, and prevents all of the valuables I keep in my room, which include textbooks, old t-shirts from high school cross country, and several bottles of nail polish, safe. Students should have the right to decide whether or not they value the convenience of having their room unlocked more than the added safety. Swarthmore is supposed to be a close-knit community, and dorm residents should be able to determine for themselves if they trust their dorm-mates enough to leave their door unlocked while they go to do laundry or even out for a jog. Public Safety should find a way to promote door locking and not leaving items unattended without going into dorms and locking doors and taking students items. If a student leaves their laptop on the main floor of McCabe while they walk to another floor to use the restroom, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not it will be there when it gets back. I certainly didn’t until it became official policy for PubSafe to take it if they choose; I trust my peers to both not take my stuff and to notice if someone who wasn’t a student tried to walk off with it. Swarthmore students are adults, and when I visited Swarthmore as a junior in high school, it seemed like I would be treated as such.

At that time, unbeknownst to me, the culture of drinking on campus was beginning to change. The DJ fund had been phased out, and the College was no longer funding PubNite either. Today, in my second year, I find the drinking culture here chilling. For many students, the average drinking options are the large parties thrown by the frats or whatever campus group is hosting in Paces, or drinking in their dorms. Public Safety has also been cracking down on drinking in academic buildings, which would make it impossible for even a small group of students to go to Trotter on a Saturday and drink wine while playing cards or another casual and non-disruptive game. The requirement for parties of 10 attendees and over to be registered means that a student who wants to get together with nine friends would not only have to register the party, but take on the legal responsibility for whether or not attendees under 21 consume alcohol. Because the hosts of registered parties are legally responsible for attendees of their parties, smaller parties are harder to host despite being much safer than a party at DU. If PubSafe came to a small registered party without being called and an attendee under 21 was drinking, it is much easier for the College to prove that the host knowingly allowed that person to drink illegally, which would have massive ramifications for that person. Conversely, there is a lot of plausible deniability for the hosts of all-campus parties because of the size of the parties and the fact that they are open to campus. Everyone knows that people under twenty-one are being served beer at open parties, yet a host of a small party takes on a higher degree of risk despite the much lower risk involved in a small, casual get-together compared to a packed frat party. The focus for Public Safety and the College should be on mitigating risk.  Making it difficult for small parties to happen when they are safe outlets for students to drink does a disservice to students on this campus. Carding students and confiscating alcohol from dorms also goes against the idea of mitigating risk and keeping students safe, but if students fear Public Safety, they will not go to them when they actually need help.

The national drinking age and state laws also are incredibly problematic in keeping students safe. The drinking age was raised to 21 because of lobbying by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to prevent drunk driving deaths. Pennsylvania does not provide medical amnesty for students who are ill due to the effects of alcohol. The enforcement of the drinking age on Swarthmore’s campus is of course, the law, but ignores the intent of the law. Students at Swarthmore’s campus don’t drive for the most part. About ten percent of students have cars, and approximately zero percent of students need a car to get from their dorm to Paces on a Saturday night. The drinking age has been effective in preventing drunk driving, according to the NIH, and that has absolutely saved lives and is good for society. However, walking under the influence of Angry Orchard has not harmed anyone, and as someone who is old enough to vote, join the military, and buy fireworks, I think I should be able to have a freaking hard cider without the full force of the law interrupting my fun. [Author’s note: I promise to neither vote or use fireworks under the influence.] The college should only devote resources to enforcing the drinking age if it keeps students safe, and as it stands, enforcing the drinking age incentivizing unsafe drinking practices.

Students pregame hard in their dorms with hard liquor and then go out because of stricter enforcement. Pregaming is dangerous, because it mainly features hard alcohol and students attempt to drink quickly so they can go out and actually experience the party. Strict enforcement of the drinking age pushes students into hiding in secrecy, and fear of citation makes them not want to call for help if they need it. The current amnesty policy, that the caller gets amnesty, means nothing because students are still hesitant to cause their friend to get cited if it turns out the situation was not as serious as they thought. Public Safety and the State of Pennsylvania should make students feel like it’s better to be safe than sorry when calling for help.

As I go through my twentieth year of life, I increasingly find it frustrating that the College, Public Safety, and the government do not think I’m old enough to decide for myself whether or not I can drink an alcoholic beverage, and that Public Safety believes that taking students items in the name of protecting them from theft would do anything besides increase tensions between the student body and Public Safety. At least they gave us promotional fidget spinners!

Events at Disorientation spur reflection on drinking culture

in News by

During this year’s first party weekend, known as “Disorientation,” five college students were hospitalized due to intoxication and cited for underage drinking. In addition, according to Public Safety director Mike Hill, four other alcohol-related incidents occurred on the night of, Sept. 3. The number of alcohol-related incidents during the annual Disorientation weekend has risen from four in 2012 to nine in 2017, an increase of five over five years.

The college has a medical amnesty policy in place that states that “neither the student in need nor the student or student organization requesting assistance will ordinarily be subject to disciplinary action” for a violation of the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) policy.

“This policy is specifically intended to support getting students to call for help,” Hill said in an email.

However, under Pennsylvania state law, any student transported to the hospital in an ambulance will automatically be cited for underage drinking, a charge that typically requires completing 30 hours of community service, paying a fine of $150 to $750, taking alcohol education classes, and complying with a 60-day driver’s license suspension. The charge will remain visible on a background check and cannot be expunged without going before a judge.

Many students have related recent increases in alcohol-related incidents to policy banning hard liquor from registered parties, which was enacted in 2014. Tyrone Clay ’18, who attended an 80-person pregame on Sept. 9, feels that the rule has caused drinking at the college has become more dangerous.

“The heavy pregame culture is directly related to hard liquor rule,” Clay said. “You can overdo it and end up too drunk.”

Clay feels that AOD policies and recent incidents reflect a “crisis of culture” in the college community.

“It’s very difficult to be both intellectually driven yet expected not to have fun in a traditional way,” he said.

According to Josh Ellow, the college’s AOD counselor, the ban of hard liquor at parties exists to slow down consumption of alcohol, because the act of drinking beer takes longer than downing a shot or sucking down a sugary mixed drink.

“I think the thought [concerning the policy] was, ‘hard alcohol is more risky because of its strength.’ The majority of the time that somebody goes to the hospital, when I talk with them and ask them, ‘What did you drink,’ usually shots are involved in the night,” Ellow said.

According to Willets resident Luke Pietrantonio ’21, because consumption of hard liquor does not occur at parties, students tend to consume it beforehand instead.

“Not having liquor at frats and at public, open parties is smart, but I think it also encourages pregaming and stuff like that,” Pietrantonio said.

According to the College’s AOD policy, any event with over 10 people, even in a dorm room, needs a permit as a registered event. Many pregames on campus, such as the one that Clay attended, involve as many people as frat parties. Despite this, because hard liquor cannot be present at registered events, hosts of pregames often do not obtain permits. Clay, who felt that he was able to regulate the amount of alcohol consumed by underclassmen attending his pregame, wants PubSafe to give out permits for pregames that involve hard alcohol.

“They should encourage pregames hosted by upperclassmen [and] have event registration for pregames. PubSafe would be there to regulate,” Clay said.

Ellow also feels that more registered pregames could facilitate safer drinking practices.

“I think if you required people to register pregames, I would think it would make people hopefully be more aware of what they’re doing, because they know that the school would be monitoring in some way,” Ellow said. “That’s the whole point of a registered party: they want to allocate resources like Swat Team.”

However, according to Ellow, it may be difficult to get students to register pregames with the current AOD policy.

“I wonder if that registered pregame would require no [hard] alcohol like we require at parties, if people wouldn’t register anyway,” Ellow said.

While Ellow also acknowledged that the hard liquor policy encourages pregaming in dorms, he feels that students are as safe drinking hard liquor at a pregame as they are at a party as long as they’re together.

“In my eyes, anytime people are around people that could potentially respond to an emergency, it’s a good thing, and I think most of the time, that happens,” Ellow said.

Though administrative policies are sometimes viewed as causing issues in the college’s drinking culture, Ellow feels that the issue is more about a lack of communication about student expectations of drinking culture.

“People know [policy] is there, but it’s not always enough to be the driving force,” Ellow said. “But I do think policy is important. I think that, you know, why have it if we’re not gonna follow it?  It’s a challenge though, because I think we hear ‘no hard alcohol at parties,’ but it’s still so prevalent elsewhere. But I know sometimes it is like that, when students are like, ‘Here’s the policy, but this is how we really do it.’ It can really divide people and take us away from the community feel that we want to have.”

Willets residence hall is one of the most popular spots on campus for pregames. Seven of the nine total alcohol-related incidents and four out of five hospitalizations to which PubSafe responded on Sept. 9 occurred there. Large pregames also often occur in Worth hall, but many more underage students tend to live in Willets than in Worth because Worth is an upperclassman-only residence hall. Because of the amount of underage drinking incidents that have occurred there, PubSafe has been monitoring parties and hangouts at Willets closely this year.

“It might have been last weekend or two weekends ago when I was just walking through Willets and people were literally playing water pong, like they didn’t have any alcohol or anything at all. They were just hanging out in one room, didn’t even have 10 people and PubSafe came and shut that down, which was really weird,” Pietrantonio said.

Ellow believes that the the social dynamic behind alcohol consumption, rather than pregaming in and of itself, can explain the amount of incidents at Willets that night.

“It’s not so much peer pressure, but it’s just people thinking, ‘This is what everybody does,’” Ellow said. “There’s also this weird self-fulfilling prophecy; it’s weird how expectations work with alcohol. You know, if people expect Willets to be this place where they can just do whatever and get crazy, the alcohol’s going to be symbolic for that.”

Pietrantonio shared a similar sentiment about the overconsumption of alcohol at Willets on Sept. 9.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily people trying to live up to the reputation of Willets almost or if it’s kind of like a herd mentality type thing in Willets.”

However, Pietrantonio couldn’t pin the cause of the hospitalizations to pregaming at Willets.

“The people that I was with, which was a good chunk of people at Willets, weren’t pregaming by any means,” Pietrantonio said. “[The hospitalizations] kind of seemed a little atypical and just a little weird given that it was just people hanging out, casually drinking. People weren’t really taking tons of shots.”

Instead, Pietrantonio feels that the incidents stemmed from hype around Disorientation and the scale of events that night.

“I think part of it had to do, definitely, with it being the first weekend,” he said. “And from what I understand from some of the upperclassmen, there are certain weekends throughout the year that are like this, like they were saying Halloween, Worthstock, all that kind of stuff.”

A Swassip Girl article in a 2015 issue of the Phoenix also addressed the tradition of students expecting to party heavily at Disorientation.

“Disorientation represents one of the few endeavors by Swatties to map our perceptions of Real College Parties onto our quaint, nerdy, liberal arts surroundings,” Samantha Herron ’18 wrote. “It’s an attempt made in order to prove that Swarthmore goes as hard as you convinced yourself it would when you decided to go here.”

According to Pietrantonio, the party culture at Swarthmore was more active than he had expected.

“Going into Swarthmore … obviously I’d heard the reputation that it’s not a big party campus [but] with stuff like Disorientation, that has shifted my view a little bit,” Pietrantonio said.

Some feel that students should take it upon themselves to fix safety issues and other issues inherent in Swarthmore party culture through community discourse.

“Safety is a shared responsibility and we have to work together to make sure we all stay safe,” Hill wrote in an email. “There needs to be a conversation around personal responsibility, both for the individuals consuming and for those providing alcoholic beverages.”

As part of this conversation, the Delta Upsilon fraternity jointly held an event called ‘So you think you can party like a Swattie’ with Ellow, OSE director Andrew Barclay, Title IX director Nina Harris, interim Title IX fellow Raven Bennett and Pubnite officers to educate students about resources and solutions for AOD and consent issues, from Swat Team (formerly known as Quaker Bouncers) to the 4 D’s of intervention, as well as some of the unspoken conventions of Swat party culture.

“We as upperclassmen definitely have a culture of feeling okay with using our resources and we want to extend that, make it [known] at Swat,” PubNite officer and OSE intern Shivani Chinnapan ’18 said. “We want to talk about the problem before it becomes one.”

Both the PubNite officers and the DU representatives wanted to convey the message that the most important consideration when having a party is safety and that they have multiple options for reporting safety issues and using AOD resources at the College.

“Amongst younger students, there’s this fear of authority … when it comes to alcohol. No one is trying to get you in trouble, because the only real trouble is you being unsafe,” Chinnapan said.

DU risk manager Charles Kuchenbrod mentioned that fraternity brothers move their kegs downstairs at 11:30 p.m. so that people dancing have to consider walking downstairs to get more drinks, which typically discourages them from overconsuming.

“I am invested to make sure [the DU house] stays a good space,” Kuchenbrod said. “Saturday nights, we have a group of brothers walking around with glowsticks. By talking to us [before Swat Team or PubSafe], you’re giving us the ability to take a more measured approach [to safety].”

Next year, the OSE, PubNite, DU, and Ellow plan to hold a student panel similar to the one of the “So you think you can party like a Swattie” event during orientation instead of in September. While Pietrantonio feels that orientation information sessions can sometimes risk being overlooked because of how overwhelmed first-years are during those times, he supports the idea of upperclassmen addressing party culture issues that go outside of AOD policy.

“Maybe having upperclassmen on campus during orientation just to kind of help kids not like learn how to party but [learn] how to just be safe and know what their limits are, obviously if you’re at a pregame and you don’t know what is the right level for you, it’s easy to go over and then you have a problem on your hands,” Pietrantonio said.

“In some different setting, kind of looking at what a productive party culture is, or a safe party culture, rather than just being like ‘don’t drink.’”

Though students have voiced complaints about the college’s AOD policy, Ellow asserts that their policy leaves room for students to safely enjoy parties by, for example, only banning hard alcohol at registered parties and not prohibiting it completely.

“The college recognizes that alcohol in and of itself shouldn’t be demonized,” Ellow said.

As long as Swarthmore remains a college, students will continue to throw parties, and student and faculty discourse will continue to flow around how best to facilitate a healthy and safe party culture.

“Throw a party with the intention of it to be a good time,” Ellow said. “A good time should always be about more than just a drink.”

 

Red tape causes vacuum in open party scene

in News by

The first weekend of the semester saw party-goers, especially first-years, standing in line outside Delta Upsilon. This continued until the early hours of the morning, when they realized they would not get in and returned to their dorms. These long lines can be chalked up to a decrease in open parties on campus.

Various upperclassmen have attributed this void in the party scene to the stringent policies enforced by the administration that make hosting open parties very troublesome. Before being allowed to host events, hosts have to receive comprehensive training from Andrew Barclay, assistant director of student activities and leadership, among other event registration processes.

“Being someone who has worked extensively with Andrew Barclay to discuss the party scene situation, I blame the void on excessive red tape associated with throwing a party. The party hosts take on all of the party’s liability. As a party host, you are required to monitor the party space closely and remain sober the entire time. In addition, one of the party hosts must be [at least] 21 years old. These rules make it more difficult to throw parties and put more responsibility on the shoulders of the hosts, which is stressful and annoying,” said Vice President of Phi Psi Jack Ryan ’18. Phi Psi is currently under suspension and cannot throw parties until the end of this semester.

Barclay stresses both the importance of hosts being trained to provide a fun, safe inclusive party experience and the safety of guests while attending open events. While training is mandatory for hosts, he voiced his support for events like ‘Party Like A Swattie’ and discussed ways in which to party safer.

“We also work directly with hosts leading up to events to ensure they are supported and have what they need to make their event a success. Beyond the work that I do with hosts, I consider event safety a shared responsibility between hosts and guests.  Both are critical towards providing a safe and inclusive environment,” Barclay said.

With these guidelines, there have been a limited number of open parties on campus. Delta Upsilon has been operational every Thursday and Saturday night since the start of the semester, and fraternity members have taken notice of the long lines forming outside their house on those evenings.

“We’ve had really long lines, and I’ve had friends telling me that they’ve just waited in line for 30 minutes and haven’t been able to get in. Usually Phi Psi and DU share the capacity,” said social chair of DU Dimitri Kondelis ’20.

Dimitri believes queues outside DU parties are impacted by rules and regulations regarding the number of people allowed to be present in the house at a given time.

“SwatTeam limits how many people we can let in and regulates the party space. If they think there [are] too many people, they won’t let anybody in, so we can’t really do anything about that,”  Kondelis said.

SwatTeam, too, has their hands tied. SwatTeam Manager Layla Hazaineh ’20 mentioned that each building has a maximum number of people that can be accommodated in accordance with various safety procedures. According to Hazaineh, SwatTeam merely adheres to these restrictions by regulating the number of people in party venues.

NuWave, an organization that aims to provide party alternatives to the fraternities, also hosts weekend parties that are an option for students. On Sept. 9, the same night as DU’s “Disorientation” party, NuWave hosted the “Class of 2021’s 1st Birthday,” which they believe was very well attended.

“There were way too many people looking for parties — it was a combination of people who didn’t like the frat parties and were looking for another place to party on campus, combined with the fact that the party space at the frat got slashed in half that created this whole almost pressure to create other parties so that people could go out,” said Roberto Jimenez ’18, a member of NuWave.

This year, with more than half of their executive board studying abroad, NuWave is in the process of recruiting new members to help plan future parties.

“I think there will be some form of recruiting for new members, especially from the freshmen. I think once that gets figured out, there will be a little more organization, and we’ll be able to throw a lot more events,” Jimenez said.

With few open parties to attend, people are resorting to throwing private parties in their rooms — a situation that can potentially pose a higher risk for both students and the administration.  

“I think the administration should prefer to have the drinking … where they can regulate it, instead of indoors where students think they’re safer. But it’s not actually as safe as there’s no one looking out for them and no one knows how much they’re drinking,” said Izzy McClean ’20.

These sentiments were echoed by Ryan as well, who felt that students found it easier to throw unofficial parties in their dorm rooms instead of jumping through hoops to get the required permissions to host official open parties.

“I believe that the increased regulations have made the costs of throwing parties outweigh the benefits. Public Safety doesn’t let partygoers play water pong anymore. There is just too much scrutiny over the parties that it makes it more work than it’s worth,” said Ryan, who believes that the college should put more trust in the student body to make good decisions.

“Swarthmore used to rely on the maturity of the students to throw responsible parties, and it feels like we are no longer being treated with such liberty,” he said.

Administration has not heard feedback on the issue, but is willing to listen to student concerns.

“I have not received any feedback that students are taxed by hosting responsibilities, but I am always open to hearing feedback about how I can better support students having safe parties that meet the expectations outlined in the student handbook. If hosts are following those expectations they greatly minimize any liability when hosting events on campus,” said Barclay.

Despite the crowds these past weekends, some first-years seemed to have learned how to have a good night out on campus.

“Just get there a bit earlier because the lines aren’t as long,” said Oliver Tennenbaum ’21.

           The conversation around party scenes will continue until the students and the administration reach a consensus on how events should be regulated.

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.

Swatties may not be able to commit to more parties

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

Over fall break, several of the Phoenix editors travelled to other colleges and universities to visit our friends. Between the homecoming football games and extra thousands of students at each campus, we knew we weren’t at Swarthmore anymore. On University of Pennsylvania’s campus, students lined up around the quad to purchase the newest, most exclusive Ivy League inspired “P” sweaters. At Pennsylvania State University, boys were turned away from the doors of fraternities because the ratio of female-identifying to male-identifying students was not high enough. As we experienced different facets of student life at these institutions, we all seemed to come to one conclusion by consensus: as much as we may critique the social scene at Swarthmore (and we ought to, if we want to work towards improving it), there are reasons why campus life is the way it is.

Put simply, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Lamenting our “lack of lit parties” is easy enough until we realize that there are trade-offs that other students at other schools make that we as a student body would have to be willing to make as well. We would have to take the party scene itself far more seriously. Here at Swat, a vast majority of students don’t even dress up to loosely fit the themes for certain parties but are still able to walk through the DU entrance freely; at larger schools, girls can’t even attend their own sorority events unless they are decked out in four-inch heels. With our workload, most students would be unwilling to go out more than once or twice each week; larger state schools have students who are somehow able to turn up four or five days of each week. There is a significant amount of time and effort in fostering and maintaining the culture of a party school; are we as Swatties willing to put the work in?

It is perfectly acceptable to admit that we are not willing or able to commit to this undertaking while still searching actively for ways to make our weekends safe, more fun, and welcoming to all. However, we feel that it is important to realize that the distinctions between the social scene here at Swarthmore and at other institutions are the ones we choose for ourselves.

Inclusivity is something we strive for on campus; this is exemplified through the fact that no one is turned away from the door of a fraternity or party space on the weekend due to their gender, sexual orientation, attire, physical appearance, or any characteristic of their companions. While our party scene is lacking in certain respects, especially the lack of physical space for women or members of the queer and trans* community, these are issues that students are actively working to address through groups like NuWave. The Phoenix commends these efforts greatly; we get the social scene we deserve, and we ought to ensure that everyone feels safe enough to enjoy themselves every weekend alongside their peers. We are proud of the spirit of acceptance that our social scene embodies, and we are heartened to see that students want to work to further promote this sense in hopes of a social scene that every student can enjoy and partake in.

A plea for decency: alcohol and assholes

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

First scenario. You’re at Paces on a Saturday night. You’ve never been sweatier. You see someone cute. You go up to them and you talk to them. You ask to dance. They say yes. You try to maneuver dancing without spilling your cup of Natty Light. You ask their name. You ask it again. You strain to hear it over “Hey-Ya.” After a bit, you ask to kiss them. They say yes. You guys make out for a bit and then each go your separate ways, agreeing it was fun and to see each other soon. Now imagine you run into that same person in Sharples on Sunday morning. Do you say hello?

Second scenario. Say you took a class with someone in the fall. You know their name and they know yours. You can recognize each other’s faces. Maybe you communicated over Facebook once or twice about homework. Once that class has ended, you see the person in Sharples, or in front of Kohlberg. You see each other. Do you say hello?

Given the second scenario, I think most people would greet the person from their class. It’s a small campus and you recognize faces after a while. It’s just common courtesy to say hi. But for some reason, given the first scenario, many, if not most, people would ignore that person entirely. My usual routine involves looking at my phone and praying the person doesn’t notice me. I ignore the heat rising to my face and pretend like nothing ever happened. I know this interaction isn’t foreign to many of us. It’s way too familiar, and isn’t that pretty fucking weird?

We know parties as the hub of social life. Many people come to college, ready to go out every night; for Swat’s craziest party-goers, maybe twice a week. While parties are one of the most intimate and social spaces for students at college, at the same time, they can be the most isolating. Why is it that we insist that our weekend selves and our weekday selves are separate people? Why don’t we give people we’ve hooked up with the same basic respect as people we meet in our classes?

This is a disconnect many college students enforce, and the repercussions of it aren’t always as harmless as we think. We pretend that a hook up at a party is synonymous with the party itself. We make the hook up into an event within the event instead of what it really is, which is an interaction with another human being. By doing this, we turn that person into an anonymous, blurry memory rather than a classmate, hallmate, or peer. We deny that person the formation of a full being in our own minds. The more we convince ourselves that this is the way to interact with each other, the more dangerous and lonely it becomes.

Now, I’m not saying we all need to stop casually hooking up at parties. There are so many negative ideas around how to conduct ourselves sexually, and we absorb all kinds of shame that has been pushed onto us against our will. People should casually hook up if they want to, but along with subverting those rigid ideas around promiscuity, we need to rid ourselves of the shame around promiscuity as well. We need to ask ourselves, why do we feel that the people we’ve engaged in some kind of sexual contact with don’t deserve to be acknowledged? I think the answer to that is deeper than just awkwardness.

For many of us, college can be an extremely lonely place. We’re away from home, from family, from what we’re used to. We crave connection and intimacy with each other in any way we can. Meeting people at parties is a way in which we continue that search for intimacy. However, we need to do a better job of maintaining connections with each other and with our actions once the party is over. At best, our disconnection between person and drunken action ends in avoiding someone in Sharples. At worst, it ends in violence. We have to see each other as people, not just drunken mistakes, in order to truly respect each other as people.

Party spaces are already set up for this not to be the case. It’s hard to see people’s faces and hear clear consent. With the changing attitudes around party spaces, there also needs to be a changing attitude around how we interact with one another once the party is over. There’s no reason not to say “hi” to someone the day after you’ve made out with them or slept over in their room. There’s no rule that it’s not “chill” to say hello after you’ve shared an extremely intimate experience with someone. It’s kind of crazy that we default to not acknowledging someone’s existence rather than dealing with an awkward four-second interaction. I think we can do better. I know we can do better.

Acknowledge people you had a drunken conversation with at Pub Nite. Give a friendly wave to someone you danced with or a smile to someone you made out with. Maybe give an awkward laugh and a “hey!” to someone whose sheets you’ve slept on. Allow yourself to connect with people in Paces and beyond. Don’t let alcohol be an excuse to be assholes to each other.

Supreme Court permanently bans Swarthmore parties

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

After the Swarthmore Borough Police shut down every party on campus since the First Party, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a permanent ban on parties—wet and dry—on Swarthmore College’s campus. In a statement to the Phoenix on Friday, the Court declared that anyone that has any affiliation with the party, whether as a host or as an attendee, will be cited mercilessly. The only way, according to Justice Patty Pooper, to erase the citation off the student’s record will be to complete 1,000 hours of community service, attend a 300 hour class on the bad effects of alcohol and drugs, write a 100 page essay on what the student learned in the class, and write a 200 page fictional novel about a college student who ruined his/her/their life due to excessive partying and alcohol usage.

“Essentially, we want to teach these young’uns some life principles,” Pooper said. “Kids these days don’t have the sense of self-discipline that we old people used to have back when we were in college. Back then, we didn’t have parties—we only focused on our studies, and that’s how we succeeded. Take me for an example. I was cooped up in the library every single day and look who I am now: a very successful justice for the court of the great state of Pennsylvania.”

Pooper is currently facing impeachment charges for accepting briberies from various conglomerates.

In the new law, the Court defined a “party” as “any form of gathering with complimentary food and/or drinks that aims to provide a fun atmosphere for attendees.” As a result, every type of party on campus, ranging from wet parties such as those hosted by NuWave and Delta Upsilon to dry, substance-free parties like the Peaslee Debate Society barbecue and Kizuna Japanese food parties were all abruptly forced into cancellation. According to Justice Richard “Dick” Nadachill, this new enforcement will have a positive impact in the Swarthmore community.

“College is a place for people to get educated, not to get drunk and hungover,” Nadachill said. “I’m telling you, college students are drinking so much nowadays that they are all going to burn a hole in their livers. And when they are not drinking, they are having stupid small barbecue parties where they have fun and all that jazz. After all the partying, when are they going to study? I mean, these kids are going to be the future of our nation and they’re wasting themselves away at parties! I can already see our country and our world going downhill as soon as they take over the world that people of our generation have worked so hard to perfect.”

Furthermore, the City Government of the Swarthmore Borough decided to award the Policeman David Busterman, who single-handedly shut down three parties at once last Saturday, the Citizen of the Month Award, on the grounds that he has “striven to foster a healthy, academic, and legal atmosphere at Swarthmore College.” Busterman’s award ceremony was held right in front of Clothier Hall, where Paces is located. Attendance was mandatory for every Swarthmore student, faculty member, and staff member.

“I am so honored to accept this award today,” Busterman said. “Swarthmore is known nationwide as a school with an intense academic environment, and one of the best undergraduate institutions in the country. The parties that were occurring frequently across campus were not only contrary to the reputation of the college, but also harmful to the academic life and environment of this beautiful campus. I will continue to make sure parties continue to get shut down and that students are doing nothing but studying. Those of you who are trying to host illegal secret parties: be warned. I will find you, I will cite you, and you will be ruined for life.”

In response to these actions, the Student Life Committee of the Student Government Organization launched a new project called “SGO v. Pennsylvania,” in order to bring parties back to campus. Annie Ma ’17, chair of the Student Life Committee, slammed the Court and the City Government, accusing them of being authoritarian and domineering.

“This is absolute nonsense,” Ma said. “When the same cop is coming to campus three times in the same day, it just goes to show that they have nothing better to do on a Saturday evening. All we want is to have some fun. The Court is adopting an authoritarian tone and treating us in a condescending way, and we will not take it!”

However, despite SGO’s efforts to combat this new law, the Court is showing no signs to overturn its decision any time soon.

“They can try to change our minds,” Pooper said. “But we won’t budge.”

Disclaimer: This is a purely satirical article. Every name, place, event, or any other content mentioned in this article are completely made-up and not true.

RnM leads celebration of divas

in Arts/Music in Spaces by

This past Friday, Rhythm n’ Motion dance company hosted the annual Diva Party in Paces. “Diva” colloquially refers to a number of female artists that have produced music with feminist undertones, including Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Fergie, Missy Elliot, and many more. At the party, RnM members played songs by these divas and more. For many individuals, this music and the artists who create it have a very special place in their hearts.

“A lot of those female artists — just the way they carry themselves is very powerful,” said Brandon Torres ’18. “Fergie’s album, “The Dutchess”, was also the first album I bought with my own money when I was a kid.”

For most attendees, Diva Party is all about the music played, so RnM members hosting the party were careful and deliberate about the songs they chose to play.

“We wanted to make sure we played music that is not always heard [at parties], but by divas,” said Frank Wu ’16, co-director of RnM and one of the hosts of Diva Party. “So we made sure not to put any other top hits that we know were super popular.”

The event was organized by individual students in past years, but those students have since graduated. Wanting to keep the tradition of Diva Party alive, RnM stepped up to host it this year. Wu remembers these parties fondly as some of the most famous at Paces.

“Some of the upperclassmen — from RnM, from Swarthmore — were thinking about the party scene at Swarthmore,” said Wu. “We wanted to create another space for a party just because we haven’t had a Paces party in a long time… There used to be Paces parties all the time. So we were like, ‘Ok, you know what? We’re going to do it!’ What other group could possibly be better to host a Diva Party than RnM?”

RnM was founded in 2002 by a group of students who felt that there weren’t many opportunities for them to learn and perform African dance styles. RnM has its roots in performing dance styles of the African diaspora, but has since expanded to include other underrepresented styles depending on the members of the group. Occasionally, members also choreograph more popular songs, like the hits played at Diva Party.

“We knew exactly what we were going to put on the playlist,” said Wu. “It literally took us like fifteen minutes to put like a hundred songs on it.”

Some students, however, wished that more divas had been played throughout the night.

“I thought it was really fun,” said Torres. “My only complaint was I wish there was more Lady Gaga.”

“I would have liked to have seen more Latin American representation,” said Kelly Hernandez ’18. “There are some bomb Latin American divas.”

Ultimately, though, students enjoyed Diva Party, and RnM succeeded in creating a fun, empowering space to dance.

“I personally felt like it was just about dancing there,” commented Torres. “I also think a lot of [the divas] remind me of middle school. I feel like in middle school, I wasn’t comfortable enough with my sexuality to just dance and have fun. So being able to hear those songs from middle school and just dance and have fun however I wanted to — I’m really appreciative of that.”

It remains unclear whether RnM will take up the reigns on the Diva Party again next year, but it’s possible. Either way, the reception of the Diva Party in both the upperclassmen who knew the Swarthmore before the party scene died down and the underclassmen who know nothing else shows that the tradition needs to be kept.

 

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