Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Discussions between Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff are currently underway to enact stricter enforcement of the College’s existing alcohol policy, which prohibits the use of College Student Activity Funds to purchase alcohol for campus parties.
“We’re not talking about a change in policy here,” said Myrt Westphal, Associate Dean of Student Life. “We’re talking about a change in our current practices.”
According to Westphal, after recent meeting with students to discuss the current state of enforcement, it became apparent that the College’s policy was being violated.
“As we looked into the issue and talked with students and members of the Student Activities Committee (SAC), it became apparent that that inappropriate funds had been used to purchase alcohol,” said Westphal.
In light of these abuses, students, faculty, and deans have worked to implement stricter enforcement of the College’s existing alcohol policy through the Student Budget Committee (SBC) and SAC, campus organizations which ensure that alcohol does not appear on party receipts reimbursed with College funds and that items listed on receipts actually appear at parties, respectively.
“Steps were taken earlier this year to make sure that receipt fraud ceased,” said SAC member Alex Ginsberg Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ08.
Westphal emphasized the moral importance of tightening enforcement of the alcohol policy.
“We want to set a good example at Swarthmore. We don’t want to grow business executives who are okay with [fraudulent] practices,” said Westphal. “SAC and SBC are doing a good job. We need to make it clear that college funds are not being used to purchase alcohol.”
Westphal and Karen Lorang ’07, Student Council Campus Life Representative and member of the Deans Advisory Committee (DAC), deny that the efforts to bolster enforcement of the College’s alcohol policy is directly connected to any recent alcohol-related incident.
“Though various events on campus this semester have highlighted some of the dangers surrounding alcohol, I believe some sort of reforms would have been pursued to reduce the college’s liability regardless of any single incident,” said Lorang.
Some students feel that the tighter enforcement is a result of recent alcohol-related incident.
“I think the administration’s decision to finally address the alcohol policy is the result of a series of events occurring over the past couple of years,” said Ginsberg.
“The number of alcohol violations has spiked over the past year and a half,” said Matt Meltzer ’06, member of the Delta Upsilon (DU) fraternity. “My fraternity brothers and alumni I’ve spoken with all agree- it’s about time the administration has done something.”
Meltzer and DU have formulated their own stricter alcohol policy, which they have been implementing at their campus-wide parties since the beginning of the semester.
“We no longer have kegs or open containers, we are careful to dilute and standardize the strength of the mix drinks served, and we always have at least three sober fraternity brothers to ensure things do not get out of hand,” explained Meltzer.
According to Meltzer, their policy was not formulated in response to any specific incidents at fraternity parties.
“I think we just saw a lot of capacity for disaster,” said Meltzer. “We want to look out for ourselves and make sure that when people come to DU, they can be sure they’ll be safe.”
Westphal commended the efforts of the fraternity, indicating that the DAC is currently also currently considering implementing similar changes to the existing alcohol policy next semester.
According to Westphal a number of potential changes are being considered, including a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœno open container’ rule, separate rooms at parties set aside for alcohol consumption, limits on the amount of alcohol allowed at parties based on expected attendance, and a broader effort to educate students about alcohol consumption across campus.
As future changes to the alcohol policy are discussed amidst current tightening of the existing policy, students and faculty remain committed to ensuring the process remains as transparent and collaborative as possible.
“We have the advantage of being a very small campus at Swarthmore,” said Westphal. “Because of that we can take a very cooperative approach.”
“I hope that SAC and the student body at large will be involved in the decision to change the way the Student Activities Funds are used,” said Ginsberg.
With stricter enforcement of existing policies underway and new policy changes under discussion, there is much speculation about the effect these new funding procedures will have on student life at Swarthmore.
“I think there will be a slight hiccup until students figure it out,” said Westphal. “But I think we may see new exciting events Ã¢â‚¬“ perhaps bringing acts to campus and generally diversifying the social and party scene on campus.”
“This is an important opportunity for students to be thinking about what they like or dislike about social life at Swarthmore,” said Lorang, “and for all of us to try and improve for the future.”
Students are encouraged to contact their Student Council Campus Life Representatives Karen Lorang ’07 (klorang1) and Win Ling Chia ’06 (wchia1) with their thoughts and concerns on the future of Swarthmore’s alcohol policy and the use of the Student Activiites Fund.