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Matchbox Matchups: Friends reunite

in Campus Journal by

Awkwardness has long been a treasured hallmark of the social landscape of the college. Awkward social interactions can be found in classrooms, dining areas, dorms, and really anywhere that students gather. There is likely nowhere this awkwardness is more at home than the intra-college dating scene. In this new feature, we set out to both celebrate this hallowed awkwardness and exploit it for our collective entertainment. And of course, hopefully help form some new relationships along the way.

Unfortunately, that would not be the case for this issue’s dates. Everyone we set up on a blind date this week not only knew each other beforehand, but also had a well established non-romantic relationship with each other. Despite the disappointing lack of sparks, we were pleased we were at least able to encourage some students to diverge from their normal social patterns. We will continue to poke and prod our matchmaking algorithm/matchmaking algorithm writer and hopefully produce unknown matchups for the next issue, but in the meantime, enjoy the following accounts of the beauty of friendship.

Disclaimer: the dates are real, the quotes are real, but some details have been switched to obscure the identities of the students, and the names have been shamelessly stolen from famous people.

Warner Herzog ’17 and Les Blank ’17

As seniors, Herzog and Blank are familiar with the college’s social environment and dating scene. They’ve survived everything the college has thrown at them over the course of four years, and with months left until graduation, they have decided to branch out and have some fun before leaving the world of undergraduate studies.

Notably, the two have uneven experience with blind dates at the college. Herzog participated in Screw Your Roommate on two separate occasions although he failed to meet the partner of his dreams on either occasion.

“Freshman year, I was Kermit the Frog, and this year, I was an apple. I think Kermit was more fun,” said Herzog. “I mean, it was a good dinner, but not date material.”

Herzog even participated in a speed dating event recently, but he didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about this event either.

“I went to the Qdoba one last week. There were not a lot of people, maybe 20, but it was alright,” he said.

In comparison, Blank had never really been on a proper blind date before (it’s arguable that they still haven’t, regrettably). Although they participated in Screw on a couple of occasions, they had a partner at the time and were only looking for friendship from their Screw date.

In terms of blind dates, both years for Screw, I had a partner, so I was just like meeting new people, and I really liked the time of hanging out with another Swattie for an hour and getting to know them, it’s really chill and low-key,” said Blank. “The closest to blind date I guess is just like dating off the Internet or Tinder, and I’ve had some good experiences with that because you get to talk to the person beforehand and I like that.”

The reason Blank actually ended up on a blind date arranged by the Phoenix had a lot to do with not being able to do Screw this year.

“So I wasn’t here for Screw, so I really wanted to do [something] like a Screw my senior year. I guess I’m not looking for something serious romantically, but I do want to meet new people because it’s my last year,” they said.

Herzog echoed some of these feelings. He also wasn’t really looking for anything serious and had decided to sign up for this because, really, why not?

“I mean, I’m graduating. Probably [not looking for anything] long term,” said Herzog. “Just being my last semester, trying everything. I don’t really have much to lose.”

The result of this match, it turned out, was that the Phoenix had inadvertently reunited two first-year hallmates. They had maintained their friendly relationship after they were no longer neighbors, but didn’t see each other as often, eating together occasionally.

“We might have occasionally grabbed meals after freshman year, but we haven’t really kept in touch a lot,” said Herzog.

In this particular instance, since Blank had recently been studying abroad, the two actually hadn’t seen each other in over a year and took the blind date as an opportunity to catch up.

“We get dinner maybe once a semester, so this was kind of like our [opportunity] to reconnect,” said Blank.

It turns out that reconnecting with an old hallmate was actually a fairly positive result for a blind date, and both individuals seemed pleased.

“It was fun. I was ramping up for a lot of small talk, but instead it, with those conversations, where you connect with someone once a semester, it’s interesting to see how things have changed over the years. We talked about politics, what we were doing after, and classic senior stuff,” said Blank.

“It was a really good dinner, we had a lot of things to talk and connect over,” agreed Herzog.

Both Herzog and Blank actually mentioned anticipating the possibility of a much worse outcome. With random matchmaking on a small campus, the probability you’ll end up with someone you know if fairly high. Unfortunately, the probability you’ll end up with someone you know and don’t like is also higher than is comfortable.

“I just didn’t want it to be someone I knew who didn’t like me for whatever reason or someone I didn’t know that I’m not jiving with. It wasn’t either of those, so that’s good,” said Herzog.

“I was preparing for worst case scenarios. I was like, ‘How do I get out of this if really don’t want to sit through dinner with this person? Or if I know things about them?’ Before every first date, I look up first date tips. I’m always Googling that. But also, I knew I wasn’t really looking for anything serious. Also, you know how I soothed myself? I was like, ‘No matter what, it’ll just be a Swattie.’ It’s usually not a lot of pressure honestly,” added Blank.

Although there are certainly much worse outcomes from a blind date then an impromptu reunion, Herzog pointed out there are also much better possibilities.

“It was good to see and talk to them again. I guess a good side to that is that if these two people had been interested in each other romantically when they first met, then this scenario would be a lot better,” he said.

If anyone has a long lost love that they’re eager to reunite with or a missed connection from two to three years ago that they still think about sometimes, please let us know at editor@swarthmorephoenix.com.

Wayne Gretzky ’20 and Serena Williams ’20

As first-years, Gretzky and Williams were also motivated to get to know new people, but for opposite reasons. Instead of being in a position where the end of the marathon of academic deadlines is finally in sight, and they have a limited amount of time remaining to immerse themselves in Swarthmore culture and traditions, they’re in a position where they’ve been at the college for almost a semester and a half and have met a whole lot of people, but they still have a lot left to meet. They’ve gotten past the frenzy of new faces that is first-year fall, but are still interested in exploring new areas of the college community.

Williams participated in Screw this year, but apparently, neither loved or hated their date so much that they were unwilling to go on another blind date.

“I did do Screw. It was fine. It was this guy that my friends didn’t know and didn’t think I knew, but I did know him. But it was fine. We had a good conversation, but there wasn’t chemistry,” she said.

Gretzky, like Blank, missed Screw, and wanted to take part in this feature in order to make up for their missed blind dating opportunity.

“I haven’t done anything with Swat blind dates so this is a new experience for me. I actually think I went to [a speed dating event] during orientation with some friends, but if I recall rightly we left immediately because it seemed rather weird,” said Gretzky. “My roommate forgot to find me a Screw date. It was partially that, because I did want to that, he just forgot to find me one. Part of it was making up for that, and I’m just interested always in meeting new people, getting to know new people.”

Williams’ motivation for participating in this article was more focused on the pure entertainment value of the whole affair.

“I thought that’d be hilarious, and the worst case scenario is that I get a funny story out of this. Actually the worst case scenario is that it’s someone that I know, ha!” said Williams.


As first-years, Gretzky and Williams were both open to a much wider range of possible outcome from their blind date. While neither was entirely certain about what they were looking for, they were both accepting of a variety of possible results.

“I don’t know. I’m just trying to meet people. Obviously if I find something, I’m not going to stop anything from happening, but that’s not really my expectation. I’m just trying to make new friends, learn more about the community, and learn more about people in it,” said Gretzky.

“I have no idea. Anything. Don’t say that, that’s so desperate. Someone who’s also a friend who I enjoy spending time with, who’s not just a fuckbuddy or whatever,” said Williams.

Despite Williams’ earlier fear about being paired with someone she knows, the date went fairly well although it may not have been much of a date.

“It was like just having dinner with a friend. It was nice to get to know her a little better, we had a good amount of time to talk,” said Gretzky.

“[It went] better than I expected! I had a fun time and our conversation was interesting if random and wacky at points — like when we discussed whether or not global warming would eventually bring Earth’s temperature to the ideal degree for dragons and whether or not said dragons would be resurrected or not. We also talked about ‘the Bachelor,’” said Williams.

“I tried to convince her to watch the Bachelor. She just didn’t like reality TV,” said Gretzky.

Gretzky and Williams had met during orientation, and had been friendly since meeting although eating dinner together one-on-one was not something they’d done before.

“We’re both in taiko together, we do a lot of music things. Not necessarily overlapping, but we’re in that area a lot,” said Gretzky. “I’d say most of the times I’m eating in a group, so it was one of the few times I was eating one-on-one with someone, but it didn’t seem like anything out of the norm. Honestly, it was just a great chance to get to know someone better. Hopefully that’ll be a stronger relationship now.”

Although there wasn’t any indication of wild sparks or passionate romance in this matchup either, they still have three more years together, so we haven’t abandoned the possibility. Even if their relationship continues down the path it’s currently headed and Gretzky and Williams remain friends, we’re happy  to have helped them to get to know each other and have some healthy discussion about important topics like climate change and reality television.

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.

Social Interactions in Sharples

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

There are a multitude of experiences, commonalities, and quirks shared by Swarthmore students. Add the plethora of traditions and the collective grind of academia, and the Swarthmore experience feels like a unified struggle.

However, perhaps nothing brings together Swarthmore students like the ever-polarized SHARPLES! As the only dining hall on campus, Sharples is a hot spot for hungry students after they’ve languished under the ungodly expectations of professors the whole day.

The lunch rush is a sight to behold. Your best bet for avoiding the long line in Sharples during the lunch rush is going to the grill. If you wish to satisfy your tastes at any other station after 12:20, a long line awaits you.  I know a lot about line trends and students’ individual feeding clocks because once upon a time, I used to spend as much time in Sharples as in a Seminar. During my freshman fall, I was known as Mr. Sharples. I’m less inclined to spend unbelievable amounts of time in Sharples nowadays, but I’ll never forget the memories that came from my time learning in Sharples 101.

Freshman fall: on a typical school day, I wasn’t thinking about my chemistry problem sets, my 100 pages of seminar reading, or any of the extracurricular engagements with which I had needlessly burdened myself. It was pass/fail and all I could think about was Sharples. Not necessarily the food or the understated ambiance, but the people. Who am I going to meet today? What whacky new stories will grace my ears this evening? Anticipation kills. I’m having Sharples withdrawals as I sit in my classes. Watching the clock is an exercise in torture as the minutes tick by way too slowly.

But then – the time comes. Classes are over and dinner awaits. I’m there at 4:30 on the dot, a little bit after Sharples open for dinner. I want to meet everybody, so I always arrive as early for dinner as possible. Most days, I wouldn’t make any dinner plans with anybody because they were so restricting. Armed with a smile, a generous sense of humor from the big G O single D himself, and a myriad of interesting stories, I’d greet everybody. I’d shamelessly interject myself into group discussions, and soon I had lovely friends and acquaintances from all social circles.

Such behavior earned me the admittedly deserved reputation of a “homie hopper.” For those unfamiliar with the definition of a “homie hopper,” it can best be defined as a person who chooses not to settle down in a specific friend group for the sake of enjoying the benefits of numerous friend groups. Integrating yourself with so many diverse groups of people starts with “playing the game,” as my friend Angel Padilla ’18 puts it. Playing the game involves asking and receiving basic introductory questions about hometowns, majors, summer plans, and the less personal bits of information that rarely pique anybody’s interest. However, asking these questions is essential to establishing a foundation of friendship, and these questions sometimes even procure gold.

After getting through the often-unavoidable awkwardness, my efforts were rewarded with raucous good times, bellowing laughs, and deep bonds that will never be severed. Sharples is also a great place to satisfy other motivations. Let’s ponder a hypothetical situation in which you peep a fine lass or lad who tickles your fancy, but you have reservations about approaching said person. Having many friends is great because the object of your affection may be sitting with people you know, and your connection with those people allows you to make yourself present before said person. From that point on, you can put your best self forward and woo the person of your dreams. I have employed this technique many times in my short Swarthmore career, and it’s almost foolproof.

Sharples is truly a microcosm of different cultures, attitudes, and backgrounds. It isn’t always a harmonious experience, but there is a general sense of tolerance and acceptance present among the student body when we pack into Sharples like a bunch of sardines. Despite the contentious debates and tense moments that naturally follow from such close proximity with so many people in one building, we’re all in this together; respect for peers is always at the forefront. Given the current sociopolitical state of America, it might behoove certain politicians to examine how we do things in Sharples for tips on how to run this country.

Deciphering the unspoken rules of dirty texting

in Arts/Campus Journal/Columns/London Calling by


As we sexual beings of the 21st century, advance into the technological age, we have found ourselves facing a new realm of issues that our analogue parents never encountered in their college years: sexting. As much as I love the charm of a naughty fax, the unpredictable social etiquette that comes with whispering sweet nothings to someone’s phone is mostly uncharted. For example, how does one navigate an unfortunate auto-correct? “I wanna duck you so hard” doesn’t have that ring of urgent desire you were probably going for. In a dating app scenario, how does one feel out the appropriate moment to state your true intention? A perhaps more succinct inquiry would be to tie these disparate questions into a set of rules for the refined sexter. Is there a basic sexting code we have yet to crack?

I would define a sext as any SMS/MMS sent in order to elicit the recipient’s sexual arousal. The advantage of this definition to me is that it allows us to look at sexting the same way we would any sexual encounter: we perceive it as a preliminary sexual activity. Therefore, I’d divide sexts the same way I would all sexual encounters: either between romantically committed individuals, or just  good’ol hookups of any sort.  The former category is much less tricky to navigate: between two comfortable partners, a small slip-up in expectations should go fairly unnoticed. It’s within the encounter of two (or more) strangers looking for a good fuck that social expectations have to be met. It is of primordial importance not to be that creeper on Tinder who sends unsolicited dick pics to everyone in a three-mile radius.

One thing that fascinates me within hookup-oriented sexting is its ritualized nature. To take an example familiar to me, is there really any doubt that when two guys whose profiles state “looking for now” on Grindr start chatting that they’re looking for some action tonight? Even so, it is more likely than not that a sequence of “Hi, how are you, what are you up to, what are you looking for, are you interested” is going to ensue, followed by the momentous pic swap that will determine whether they meet.

Cutting to the chase could result in castigation: the common profile stereotype “no creeps” exemplifies this. Is being direct really so repugnant? When did open and clear discussion of sexual intention start being viewed like the acts of some backstreet flasher? On Grindr, therefore, a significant part of etiquette would be an ironic prudishness that comes from the reverence of formulaic rituals.

This prudishness contrasts quite starkly to the urgency of certain scenarios. Imagine a situation where you and some girl you’ve hooked up with once are chatting and considering taking a “study break” together. One of you sends a flirtier text than the norm, which is welcomed by an equally saucy reply. The clear shift in tone means that you can’t really revert to casual conversation without some sort of resolution or climax – the only option is to keep blabbing about what you’d do to her. The only solution I can think of is to fake it: something like, “fuck this is too hot, save the rest for when I see you or I’m going to bust.” It may sound ridiculously exaggerated out of context, but how else do you extract yourself from a commentary on mammary shape to do some reading before a night out? Saving face, and giving a good performance, seem like the keys to this particular scenario.

So if appropriate attitudes towards sextiquette (testing new terminology here) can range from a reverence of coded platitudes to artificial lust, where’s the common thread? Well, I’d argue it’s about needing to uphold expectations, and more specifically to ignore the lack of face-to-face interaction. If you tell a boy you want to suck his dick, you better want to suck his dick more than doing that orgo post-lab. Imagine picking up some history reading as you take a breathing break from licking a girl out. Similarly, you’d never go up to someone in person in a bar and silently flash your abs before dragging them to the nearest cubicle. I’d argue that much of the discrepancy between what I describe as common attitudes and my reaction to them stems from a conscious awareness of the the texting medium, and what it’s differences from real life.

And so, as much as I view sexting as a distinct ballgame from cruising in a bar, it seems everyone doesn’t agree, or at least that common attitudes haven’t taken into account the novelty of the medium. As an example, there’s something liberating about potential partners knowing exactly what you’re looking for before they speak to you: in a hookup culture where sexual assault is a reality, the mutual objectification of a dating app and the ability to easily block users means all parties have equal say within the sex talk domain and expectations on both parties (I’m not addressing aesthetic hierarchies here, like the reverence of buff young white gay men, which is fucked up and a different issue, but rather the ability to be blunt without repercussions).

Perhaps things are better as they are, but I for one would love to have people take things a bit less seriously, and be honest about who, what and when they want to be skewing (Duck you autocorrect. Screwing).


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