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The Famous Sophomore Slump

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Ah yes, the dreaded and much talked-about Sophomore Slump. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you it’s as real a thing as you and me, and it’s affected almost every sophomore I’ve talked to right here on our beloved campus. I did not believe in this terrible syndrome until this semester, though everyone warned me about it. I thought, in the classic, know-it-all Swattie way, that I was much too smart to fall into such a slump, that I was too driven and dedicated to reach such a lack of motivation and energy. However, as tends to occur, I was wrong.

Coming back to Swarthmore after your first year is pretty much impossible to do without slumping. Slumping is when sophomores hit peak procrastination and can’t find any kind of motivation to do their work. Although they know that it’s of absolute importance to get cracking on their assignments, they just can’t find any way to get it done. It’s hard to return from a summer of minimum wage jobs and plenty of relaxation time to hours of essays and problem sets. It hits you as soon as you come back, with deadlines looming immediately ahead of you. The fear of failing and not having the stellar grades you’ve always wanted is sitting in the back of your mind at all times. And this is the best part: as soon as these extreme feelings hit you, they stay with you for the entire semester. There’s never a break, not even when it’s technically break, because there is simply no way to forget about all the essays and all the responsibility left back in the academic buildings.

In addition to the typical stress of Swarthmore, sophomores are required to choose a major, and it feels like such a make-or-break decision. It’s as though the rest of our very long lives is dependent on this one decision (which it’s definitely not – you can change your major several times after your first decision!), and all we do is stress and freak out about it until we somehow manage to make a decision. Personally, I remember switching my projected major about seven times in just the short summer between freshman and sophomore year. This led to drastic amount of stress; however, it feels nice to have started figuring it out. After that, it seems that everyone starts comparing inadvertently, creating cliques dependent on who’s majoring in what, trying to find common ground with people we may or may not even have known about before this very trying year.

Well, now that I’ve got one semester of this terribly long year (almost) under my belt, I can feel myself starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, I know, we’ve got another entire semester left, with four to five new classes that are sure to kick our asses, but it’s spring semester. Everything is better in the spring semester. Not only are we moving towards warm weather, but there’s spring break and the wild trip that may entail, as well as the end of the semester which promises sun and relaxation for, like, three months. And for some of us, it even means going abroad and getting to avoid Swarthmore for an extra six months!

So yes, the sophomore slump sucks a lot, and getting through it may take all the sanity you have left in your being, but it gets better if you just choose to look at the bright side of it all (as long as the whole jaded junior concept isn’t a thing).

College to make plans to build new dining hall, update Sharples

in News by

Next semester, the college will begin the planning process to build a new dining hall and renovate Sharples as a student union space.

In the last few years, the college has created two comprehensive reports about necessary improvements to the campus and student life in general: the Campus Master Plan in 2013, and the Student Experience Visioning Study Report in Feb. 2017. These two reports cover a wide variety of issues and include input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The reports includes recommendations ranging from “adjustment in faculty members’ teaching load,” to making McCabe more open and limiting the “fortress-like appearance.” Both reports also included much about the need for a change in the way food is served on campus, and the need for a student union space. The new construction project is meant to address these problems.

“We engaged both a dining consultant and an architect last summer just to give us some ideas and I’d say sort of the key findings there was that the existing Sharples building has outlived its useful life as a dining hall,” said Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Sharples was built in the 1960s and was designed to hold around 900 students. As the college has grown and student preference has changed, the building has seen different limitations. Both the design and the size of Sharples lead to limitations. The small size makes it difficult for students and faculty to find a place to sit and enjoy themselves while eating.

“In my experience meal time is one of the few times where students really give themselves permission to [give themselves a break], and if we don’t have enough space where students feel like they can linger a little bit and have those conversations about the seminar or what’s going to be happening this weekend, it really takes away from one of the most important opportunities for those kinds of connections that we think are so crucial to [students’] experience” said Liz Braun, Dean of Students.

In addition to the size, the construction of the serving room leads to limitations in how food can be served. According to Brown, many peer institutions are utilizing more individualized cooking methods that are not feasible in Sharples.

The current plan is to continue serving food in Sharples as the new dining hall is being constructed. Once the new building is complete, food service will move, and Sharples will be renovated and turned into a student union space.

This will allow the college to meet the demand for both a better dining facility and a student union. Until it burned down in the mid 1980s, Old Tarble served as a student union space where people could gather in a social capacity. The two reports show that students and alumni believe the campus is missing this kind of space now.

“The space in Clothier that includes Essie Mae’s and [Paces] was intended to replace that and it does certain things well but it really doesn’t function as a student union, and that was the feedback we heard over and over again from students, and then we heard it also when we were talking to alums, gosh what’s really missing from campus is a place. A place where we can gather as a student body,” said Brown.

Planning for this project will begin next semester. Brown stressed that the college has an aggressive plan to try to complete the project as quickly as possible, but estimates that the planning process will take at least one year with the construction of the new dining hall taking approximately one year to 18 months after the planning.This means that the earliest the new dining hall could open up would be in Spring of 2020 with the Sharples renovation following that.

Brown and Braun both recognize the importance of finding a balance between the needs of current students and future students.

“I think we’ve also tried to be thoughtful about a balance of longer term projects and also shorter term projects that can provide more immediate benefits to current students. So when you think about some of the smaller residence hall renovations that we’ve been able to do, the matchbox went up pretty quickly, Sprowl’s going to be open in a year. So I think we’ve tried to create a mix of opportunities, some things that students will be able to access in their time,” said Braun.

In addition to the new dining hall and Sharples renovation, the college is also beginning to think about plans for Martin once Biology moves into the BEP, what upgrades can be done to athletic facilities, and upgrades to the libraries. While designing these projects, the college focuses on designing spaces that can be flexible throughout time.  

“The other thing we have to recognize is what students want today both in terms of classroom space and social space and residence hall space might not be what students want 15 years from now, 30 years from now, so every project that we’re doing we’re trying to build in a level of flexibility so that if in 10 years from now students wanted to use things in a different way it would be relatively easy to convert it or to kind of reimagine how something’s set up,” said Braun.

Students who are interested in getting involved in renovating Sharples and building a new dining hall can join SGO’s Sharples Renovation Committee.

Make Swat Weird Again: wild traditions from Swarthmore’s past and present

in Campus Journal/Uncategorized by

Picking up a copy of the Phoenix from April 2, 1971, I spy a front page headline: “S’more Senior Arrested On Possession Charges in Media Narcotics Raid.” It reads that “a Swarthmore student is being held for grand jury” for what was described as the “biggest quantity of LSD ever confiscated in the borough” by the “Delaware County Daily Times, coming in with a whopping 2,000 tabs of LSD and small quantities of marijuana, hash, and barbiturates (an old-fashioned strong sedative). The article, which would be a sure-fire headline story today, describes the student as “the Media link in a chain of marketeers for hallucinogenic drugs” which operated between Media and Swarthmore, and is shoved into three paragraphs in the corner of the front page, indicating that this big drug bust was perhaps not too shocking in a ‘70s Swarthmore.

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine witnessing a similar drug bust at the Swarthmore I know today. I sat down with Lilly Price 20 to discuss the fabled wild past of Swarthmore and how her expectations of Swarthmore differ from the present reality.

 

“When I was applying to Swarthmore, I was really drawn to the weird and quirky,” said Price 

“I would read the comments on Niche.com from 2009 that would be like, ‘I go streaking every day and shove my best friend up my butthole! It’s so wild here!’”

 

We also spoke about rumors that we’ve heard thrown around in the Swat bubble of the weird traditions of the Swarthmore of yore.

 

“Obviously, Crunkfest is the most wild tradition I’ve heard about,” Price stated.

 

Crunkfest is a tradition you have probably  heard about in passing, and it used to be condoned by the college to some extent. It takes place over the course of a few days, and the idea is that you form a team of friends and compete against other teams in ridiculous tasks. These tasks include but are not limited to: a “treesome” (threesome in a tree), eating a 20-egg omelette which you must then throw up (and then eat again), pulling flags out of you butt to present to your group at the commencement of the ceremony, and an array of other drug-fueled and absurd endeavors.

 

However, since many of Crunkfest’s wacky shenanigans also happen to be illegal shenanigans, the college felt that it could no longer support the yearly tradition. Certainly, Crunkfest is not the only eccentric tradition that the college used to claim as its own. I decided to go on a witch hunt for rumors, facts, and anything in between I could find about the fabled Swarthmore of the past, as well as traditions that still exist today.

 

“I’ve heard of orgies happening on Parrish Beach at night,” said Price.

 

In addition to Parrish Beach, rumors of Mary Lyon basement orgies have been around for a while. They are said to have taken place before the basement was converted into a dorm space.

 

“The story goes that ML used to be the party dorm because it was off campus — but because it was in the town there was a lot of issues. Swat started selectively putting people in there that wouldn’t make problems. Thus, ML becoming the nerdy dorm,” said Christopher Malafronti 18.

Malafronti also talked about the Dash for Cash, a fundraiser for the rugby team, which constituted the team doing a naked run through all four floors of Parrish with paper bags over their heads. People would hold cash out to them, and they would try and grab the cash as they nakedly and blindedly ran through those sacred Parrish halls.

 

Though nowhere near a naked and blindfolded run through Parrish, sports teams still have their own traditions. Price spoke of the track team’s “naked mile,” which takes place during the fall semester. A pretty self-explanatory jaunt, members of the track team strip down and run a mile around the campus track. I’ve also heard rumors of other teams playing secret naked games at different points in the year.

 

As we are approaching an era in Swarthmore’s history where institutional memory about the Spring of Our Discontent is fading fast, I thought it would be apt to talk about a pre-Discontent tradition hosted by the queer community. The infamous “Gender Fuck” party, which was later extinguished due to frat culture infiltrating the space, is a highlight of the Swarthmore of days past.

 

Gretchen Trupp 18 said the intent of Gender Fuck was for attendees “to experiment with gender presentation and come dressed in a new way, or in a way that finally makes them feel comfortable… encouraging people to fuck with gender, basically.”

 

The only party that I think could compare to this is “Glitter Booty Slap,” a party which occurred just a year before I came to Swarthmore. A “clothing optional” queer party which I’ve been told was as rowdy as it sounds – like people giving oral sex in a corner rowdy. In the true spirit of keeping the alternative party scene alive a “Glitter Bomb Party” is scheduled to be hosted again by SQU this year, inspired by the legacy of “Glitter Booty Slap.”

 

So what has changed about the Swarthmore culture between then and now?

 

“It seems like the college itself has maybe changed the type of students that it’s interested in. This is now one of the top liberal arts colleges, and now maybe the school is feeling more pressure to admit students who are very focused on performing well in school and sports, and less focused on bringing in students who are quirky, or have really crazy backgrounds or who are interested in counter-culture and being weird,” Price hypothesized.

 

However, I sat down with two bright-eyed freshmen, Grayson Mick and Maya Zimmerman, and they seemed to have a different perspective on things.

 

“It doesn’t seem with this freshman class that that’s really the case — I’ve met so many different unique people, and [it] doesn’t seem to be all about perfect scores and GPAS,” said Mick.

So is the class of 2021 the class to help bring weirdness back to Swat? Or is it a simply a matter of disillusionment with campus culture that happens over time?

 

“From what we’ve seen, they are wild,” Zimmerman asserted about the class of 2021.

 

It should also be noted that weird traditions are by no means gone at Swarthmore. An example of which is the Green Bottle Party which takes place during senior week.

 

Cesar Cruz Benitez 17 told me that the premise of the party is “this is your last chance.” The gist of the event is that each senior is given a bottle of champagne (your ‘green bottle’) and they give it to someone they’ve always wanted to hookup with, or in more innocent cases, be friends with.

 

“Let’s say there’s someone you were interested in for a really long time — this is your time to go for it and be like, ‘Hey I’ve seen you from afar for a really long time, never actually talked to you, and I like you, I find you attractive. And whatever comes of that comes of that.”

 

As for the traditions which defined Swarthmore culture in days past?

 

“I definitely do think that there’s a possibility for these traditions to be brought back, in the spirit of bringing back Swat’s weirdness — there were a couple of more alternative parties thrown last year, and I think there is a group of students interested in making Swat weirder, which is great. We just need to get more students dedicated to that cause,” Price stated hopefully.  

Swarthmore students attending Gender Fuck

Old Micozzie Had a Barn

in Campus Journal by
My room as it first appeared when I moved in. It’s become much more hospitable, but thanks to the bright red walls, my family will forever know it as “Emilie’s bordello.”

‘Ee eye ee eye oh’ and in that Barn he had some Swatties. To any uninitiated freshmen: on the grueling walk back from Target, as you haul along a stolen cart that will soon be lost forever in the bowels of the Crum, you may stumble upon a massive brown(ish) building.  It may look like any other weatherbeaten, misshapen old house, but creep closer and the sweet scent of weed will tickle your nostrils. A small path of beer cans will guide you to the porch, and on warm summer nights, some say you can hear the laughter of residents past who used to sit there and smoke while watching passersby.

 

(Alternatively, come late enough on a Friday night and you can hear the music blasting out of whatever apartment is throwing a party, get a mouthful of smoke, and walk into a crowd of 5 to 20 people.)

 

More prosaically, the Barn is made up of six four-bedroom apartments and one terrifying basement; Micozzie Realtors has owned it for years and usually rents to Swat students for around $300 per month. The cheapness, sense of independence, and fairly easy access to campus has made it an attractive option for students coming back from study abroad or trying to get more freedom than a dorm allows. It’s also helped the Barn develop a reputation as a dirty hideout for artsy junkies — those are basically the terms in which I first heard it described during my freshman year. When I visited for the first time, I was half-expecting to trip over used needles. I was surrounded by unknown upperclassmen who actually seemed to know their way around — it was terrifying. Caroline Reynier 20 had a similar experience.

 

“Someone invited me to a party freshman year. It was my first week, so I was very intimidated cause there was a bunch of older people… and it did seem like a very different community from frat parties” recounted Reynier, leaning against the kitchen counter in my 3rd floor Barn apartment.

 

It does take determination to move off-campus in a school where 95 percent of students choose to live in college housing. Colette Gerstmann ’18 has lived in the Barn since her sophomore spring and has seen several people come and go.

 

“The Barn is different depending on when you get there, the culture keeps changing. You get groups of people who want to live alternatively in some way — by having alternative parties, being able to cook, or having a communal lifestyle, people who want to have cats, who are more distant from Swarthmore.”

 

In my case, I first knew the Barn as something of an alternative, artsy queer scene — perhaps less so since the class of 2017, which made up a sizeable and very visible chunk of the Barn population, graduated in the spring. Only a handful of seniors and super seniors remain from the last few years.

 

Throughout my freshman year, a number of longtime Barn residents organized “Liturgy,” a series of alternative queer, and POC-centered parties that introduced my comrades and me to the Barn life. Much like Reynier, I remember the Liturgy parties as slightly terrifying events full of mysterious upperclassmen we barely knew. We stumbled around, uncertain whether we’d be swooped or discover some mystery of life (or maybe I was just drunk and overdramatic). These days, most formal (read: there’s a Facebook page) events are thrown in apartment 3N, home to a group of sophomores who discovered the Barn through the Liturgy parties and were drawn to its “alternative” vibe. But something’s changed.

 

3N resident Daria Matescu ’20 has unofficially taken over the Barn’s party hosting.

 

“[The Barn] has a history of having parties that are radically different from anything else available on campus,” explained Matescu.

 

And she has been working to uphold that tradition. The Barn is definitely still a party space  – come by on a Friday or Saturday night, and chances are there will be a few smokers scattered around the yard. But something has changed.

 

Although she freely admits that the Barn’s nature is ever-changing, Gerstmann expresses hints of wistfulness when remembering its former culture.

 

“[The Barn is] becoming more cliquey based on apartments — there used to be traces of the Barn co-op, people splitting up groceries and having meals together. That was mostly gone by the time I got here, but there were some traces, people were friends across apartments. I feel like now it’s gone.”

 

There is no longer a sense of shared responsibility for communal areas, which now seem slightly neglected. While the various residents are generally friendly to each other, we are rarely brought together by common events. Pretty much all residents are in the class of 2020 or graduating this year, meaning there is something of a breach between the two “generations.” The Barn may be made up of several smaller communities, but it no longer has one overarching “theme.”

 

And yet, in spite of the rodents and the sloppiness and the “gentrification,” over the past few years this crumbling building has meant a lot to its residents.

 

“I was drawn to [the Barn] because I wanted to be able to have a direct influence on campus party culture […] to try and preserve the Barn’s history of existing as a safer space for queer folks, people of color, and women,” Matescu explained

The year of Liturgy is over, but Barn residents such as Matescu are determined to influence campus culture and offer a viable alternative party scene. And to its residents, the Barn is more than just a party space.

 

“It made me feel like a real person — living on campus sometimes I felt like I was just going to all these buildings. Walking off campus and crossing the street and passing the church, it made me feel like I’m in a real place,” recalls Gerstmann in a brief moment of nostalgia.

 

Maybe something was lost in the process of students moving in and out, changing the house’s culture and atmosphere. The Barn is definitely not the vaguely mythical space I once envisioned. But does it really have to be? Fellow sophomores, it’s up to you to decide what this space should be. (Don’t look at me, I just want to bake cookies and make people eat them). An old-fashioned hippie commune where everyone makes quinoa together? A queer arthouse? Bear with me as the year goes on and I discover the newest version of the Barn, meeting residents old and new and exploring what new communities have been created.

Dramatic exit from my apartment – who knows what scandalous scenes shook this hall?

ML deserves love

in Columns/Opinions by

Two months ago, I opened mySwarthmore portal for first-year students. As an incoming first-year student, I was anxious about everything: I wasn’t sure how well I performed on my placement tests, I couldn’t figure out which classes I wanted to take, and I didn’t know who my roommate was or where my dorm would be. A few weeks later, my housing arrangement was announced.  Gregory Lee would be my roommate, and Mary Lyon would be my dorm.

To see what ML looks like, I googled “Swarthmore Mary Lyon,” with the assumption that I would recognize something about this dorm because I had attended Swatstruck and toured around Swarthmore campus several times already; however, I did not. The search, therefore, raised a more important question: “Where in the world is ML located?”

Curious, I searched “Swarthmore Mary Lyon.” Here’s what I found: Swat History — The Mary Lyons Buildings, Residential Communities, Floor Plans :: Living @ Swarthmore, and Pro/cons to Mary Lyon (i.e. Are there any pros??).

Indeed, the fourth result, a forum about Swarthmore’s dorm, sounds interesting. Although the title “Are there any pros??” sounds ominous by itself, that the forum appears on CollegeConfidential makes it sound even more so. Surprisingly, many people on that forum claim ML’s distance from the main campus is the only downside of the dorm. My move-in experience during the International Student Orientation warrants this claim.

When I first arrived, my body was aching because I had flown non-stop for twenty-four hours. After checking in, receiving my dorm keys, and completing some immigration documents, I had to carry two gigantic, fifty-pound luggages from Parrish back to ML. Moreover, while some folks can walk to every building (except ML) within five minutes, it requires me at least 10 minutes to reach Parrish Hall. Even though the Garnet shuttles run from ML to Parrish every day, they operate only in the morning and the evening, which means that any ML resident who wishes to take an afternoon nap in their room must walk all the way back. Admittedly, it took me several weeks to adjust to ML’s faraway distance.

Nevertheless, after having lived in ML for three weeks, I saw many perks of living away from Parrish Beach. First, ML teaches people to become much more organized. Because travelling back and forth from ML to the main campus takes virtually half an hour, forgetting to bring one important item equates to wasting the time that could otherwise be spent on a more meaningful task, which disrupts one’s schedule significantly. Hence, ML residents must pack everything they need before they leave ML for a day. Had I followed this advice, my transition to Swarthmore life would have been much smoother than it was. Forgetful and disorganized, I was not used to preparing all the items I need for tomorrow’s class until tomorrow begins. Therefore, on my first few days, I found myself constantly racing against the clock, trying to finish my breakfast at Sharples, catching up on the assignments I should have completed the day before, and sprinting to my first class all within an hour. In this commotion, I often forget to bring some important items with me before leaving ML, be it my math homework, my Chinese workbook, or my water bottle. Time is precious, especially at such a rigorous, fast-paced institution as Swarthmore. ML teaches me to manage my time more efficiently and to be more organized.

Another benefit of living in ML is that it has an extremely tight-knit and diverse community. Because the dorm is so remote, once the residents finish their activities and head back to their dorm room, many choose not to travel back to the main campus unless it is necessary. As a result, the sight of ML residents chatting, playing board games as Avalon and Settlers of Catan, or finishing homework together in the ML lounge during the evening time is not uncommon. In other words, while residents of other dorms enjoy their proximity to the main campus, those in ML enjoy the benefits entailed in their dorm’s faraway location.

Last but not least, ML has excellent amenities: spacious living arrangements, breakfast on weekends, foosball table, pool table, and private bathrooms. This package of amenities, while not unique to ML, compensates for the dorm’s remote location. Although ML residents need to walk some distance to Sharples every morning on the weekdays, they are just a few steps away from their breakfast on the weekends.

Up until this point, I hope many readers of the Phoenix will begin to appreciate ML and its perks, but for those who have yet to be convinced, that’s alright as well. However, please bear in mind that there are people who voluntarily choose to live in ML. ML is amazing in its own way and needs no condolence from anyone. Rather, it needs more love.

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.

Use of popular EDM drug spreads to campus

in Around Campus/News by

molly mouth

“I’ve just always been the type of person who likes to try new things,” said Elena.* “Molly was no different. It was Genderfuck, and I thought, ‘This will be cool. I’m going to have a really good time.’”

After three hours of what she described as “intense euphoria,” dancing to the beat of the party’s music and socializing with other party-goers, Elena started to feel ill. She tried to communicate this to her friends, but she found herself unable to form words. Elena spent the rest of the night vomiting. Some comparatively sober friends helped her out of Sharples and to her dorm, where she lay next to a trash can until morning. Elena does not remember anything after 11 p.m. but says she trusts the friends who told her what had happened.

Elena’s story is not unique. According to a 2012 report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), almost 13 percent of college-aged individuals will try molly in their lifetimes, and molly-related hospitalizations in this demographic have increased by 75 percent since 2004.

Molly, known medically as MDMA, is a popular recreational drug often likened to ecstasy in its purest form. According to the ONDCP, MDMA was originally used as a component of psychotherapy to treat military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The drug was determined to be dangerous, however, and was taken off the market in the 1980s. Since then, pure MDMA has become something of a party culture myth, as dealers and consumers seek out the purest, medical-grade version of the drug.

Demand for molly amongst 18-25-year-olds has risen in tandem with the surging popularity of electronic dance music (EDM). The bass lines, light shows and noise volume of EDM concerts are believed to complement the heightened sensory experience caused by the drug.

“Because the effects of molly are related to interconnectedness, euphoria and alterations in perceptions, it has been shown to be most popular in music venues,” explained Josh Ellow, the college’s alcohol and other drugs counselor and educator. “But since the 1980s, molly has also been making a resurgence on college campuses.”

According to Mark*, a student at the college who most recently used the drug during last weekend’s “Swatglow” party, a context as socially intimate as Swarthmore is the “perfect” place to experience molly.

“We’re sort of sheltered here,” Mark said. “We’re in this bubble, and after some time it starts to feel like every Saturday night is the same. When there is so little variation in venue, people and atmosphere, it sort of shakes things up when you do molly.”

While he said he knew of some dealers on campus, Mark explained that he usually gets his molly in Philadelphia.

“I’m not a regular user, but when I want to go to a concert or something, it’s usually pretty easy to get molly,” Mark said. “I know a guy at the [University of Pennsylvania], and I can usually get .2 grams for around $40. [Penn] is obviously a much bigger school, so there’s just a lot more of it there than here.”

Nina*, another student at the college, purchases molly in a similar fashion. Last year, she and her friends used a dealer at UPenn various times to buy the drug before EDM concerts. In May, she explained, she approached her dealer about purchasing some molly before a concert headlined by dutch DJ sensation Armin van Buuren, and the dealer mentioned that he was now buying his supply from someone else. Nina had not had any unenjoyable experiences in the past, so she trusted the dealer when he told her that the drug was essentially the holy grail of party culture, pure MDMA. When she and her friends took the drug at the concert the following weekend, none of them felt good.

“I’m pretty sure it was laced with meth or something,” she said. “It was really scary. I just felt so awful and weird. I felt like I had no control over myself, and I just wanted it to be over. It usually takes around six hours to come down from molly, and I just remember thinking, ‘I can’t wait for this to be over.’”

Nina’s experience speaks to one of the primary concerns healthcare professionals have with molly use: the very high possibility that what the consumer is taking is not actually molly.

“MDMA is very different from the ‘pressed pills’ that are marketed with luxurious logos stamped on them,” said Ellow. “These versions typically have buffering drugs, which may include everything from caffeine, to wax, to meth.”

Often, even the dealers themselves do not know what they are selling.

Robert*, a student at the college who deals molly, is one such provider.

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘Oh, my shit is so pure,’ but it’s probably not. There is this conception that there is perfect molly somewhere, but that doesn’t exist. As far as I know,” added Robert, who tries each new batch before selling it, “none of my molly has made people feel really sick.”

Ben,* another student at the college with experience dealing molly, explained that the people who get sick most often are those that do not know their limits.

“The biggest problem is that people don’t know how much to use,” he said. “I always tell people the ideal start amount if it’s your first time is .2 grams. People do that once and then they think they can do double or triple that the next time.”

Still, experience with the drug is not the only factor people should be taking into account when they do molly, Ben explained.

“You need to factor in your height and body weight. People really have to know themselves well before they should ever to do something like molly,” Ben said.

“It’s too much sensory overload to try it out for the first time in a rave. People should try it out in a space they feel comfortable and where they know their surroundings.”

Both Ben and Robert found that their sales increased before large EDM concerts in Philadelphia. But many students at the college, including Nina and Elena, first tried molly at parties on campus.

While neither student sought medical attention after their experiences with molly at the college, others have not been so lucky. Beth Kotarski, director of the college’s Worth Health Center, said that in the past, the health center has handled many drug-related medical emergencies. Whether or not they were related specifically to molly could not be divulged.

Kotarski explained that when accidental overdoses occur, the many components of the college’s medical response team work together to help the student.

“We follow very clear medical plans for getting students support through the hospital or through drug counseling,” she said.

According to Mike Hill, director of Public Safety at the college, Public Safety officers have also had exposure to both the medical and criminal aspects of molly-related incidents on campus. Hill could not elaborate on specific cases but said that in the past, Public Safety has responded to drug-related medical emergencies as well as the purchase and sale of drugs on campus.

“Certainly there have been instances in which we have responded to incidents of drug and alcohol abuse,” Hill explained. “Any kind of illegal activity must be investigated, and local law enforcement may be involved.”

While Ben no longer deals, Robert explained that he has never been too worried about Public Safety’s disciplinary threat because he runs his operation according to the mantra: “small scale, friends only.”

“I’ve never felt like I’m doing a large enough operation to have serious concern, but sometimes traveling with it can be nerve-wracking,” Robert said. “I feel pretty safe selling on campus, but I make a point to not sell it off-campus because that’s how you get arrested.”

Robert, who originally started selling molly to pay for books, said the business has not been incredibly lucrative. Usually, he barely makes more than what was needed to purchase the pills in the first place. Still, he does not plan on stopping his operation any time soon. With four months of classes left and many of the college’s larger social events yet to come, Robert does not expect that student consumption of molly will halt any time soon.

The statements of the students interviewed do not seem to contradict this prediction.

“I was just stupid about it because it was my first time,” Elena explained of her molly-related illness last spring. “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it again. Who knows? Maybe I’ll try it again at this year’s Genderfuck.”

* These names are pseudonyms.

Student Council Works to Create Comprehensive Guide

in Around Campus/News by
Imagine an online page where you could find any information about student resources you needed, all offered by the college. That page is the goal of Tony Lee ’15 and Jason Heo ’15, the Student Council members in charge of developing a student resource guide that will consolidate information on everything from obtaining grants for summer projects to reserving a space for a party to contacting Workbox.“Because of our lack of knowledge, we are not able to utilize everything the College has to offer,” said Heo.“A lot of students have questions about certain things,” said Lee.  According to a Student Council survey sent out last week, many students feel like they are either not aware of or do not know how to use many of the resources the college provides. Although a range of issues were mentioned, the most perplexing was finding funding for various activities like student group events, parties, and speakers.“A lot of people don’t realize what the Lang Center has to offer,” said Heo, referencing one of the project’s goals to facilitate student attempts to implement social change. “Information on this isn’t centralized,” said Lee. “We want to make it easier for students to do what they want to do.”

The “Student Resource Guide” stemmed from the need to find an alternative method of dispensing information, as the current word-of-mouth system is not very effective. Student Council has been discussing updating the orientation handbook since last semester. It was not until the recent survey, however, that they realized that unawareness and disuse of College resources was not limited to first-year students and that an all-encompassing guide should be available to the entire student population.

Currently, Lee and Heo say the plan is to establish the guide as an extension of the College website, as either a PDF or Wiki-page hosted by the Swarthmore College Computer Society, with limited hard copies. “We want an entirely student-compiled source,” said Lee, a desire that makes the wiki more amenable. Nevertheless, a survey done by Student Council of other colleges and universities found that Wiki-pages were not a very common medium for student resource guides.

Independent of format, the goal is for the guide to be visible and utilized. “A lot of people restrict themselves to the Dash,” said Heo.

Akshaj Kuchibhotla ‘16 said he has had issues with the college website in its current format. “It could be improved, it’s not very well structured,” he said, “when I first looked at the website, it was very daunting.” Unsurprisingly, Kuchibhotla thinks a new, centralized page would be extremely useful.

According to Lee, there has been overwhelming support for the guide. “The biggest problem we face is how to make it sustainable,” he said, citing the constant change within the student population and the need for future generations to continue updating information.

Although still a work in progress, Lee and Heo have said that their goal is to implement the guide by the beginning of next year. “It would be great to get it up by next year’s orientation,” said Heo, “just to have it present, not necessarily to give it out.”

A link to a suggestion box for Student Council can be found under their heading on the Dash.

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