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.
This evening at 9pm, the Lady’s Soiree Society [LaSS] will host the first annual Mr. Swarthmore competition.
Both the event and the society are new to Swarthmore’s campus. Last spring, Claire Mellin ’08 and Jessica Hamilton ’09 decided to form the organization to serve as a “social organization.” Jessica Hamilton was firm in refusing the title of sorority, however: “I’d describe as a group of girls who’ve become really great friends, and we are trying to improve campus life–and not just for ourselves.”
Mr. Swarthmore is the second major non-party social event the group has hosted, following on the heels of the successful fall semester Dodgeball Tournament. Contestants will take part in a variety of competitions including evening-wear, swim-wear, talent, and a mystery category. Hamilton is particularly looking forward to the talent portion. “That’s where we’ve assigned the most points for the judging, and that’s going to be fairly unique” she explained. Many participants share her anticipation of that section of the competition, though Mr. Basketball and Mr. SBC were most excited for the evening-wear section. “[Formal wear] will probably be the introductory event, where I’ll ‘strut my stuff,'” Mr. Basketball declared.
At the time of the interview, the society had confirmed 15 participants and “twenty to twenty-five clubs and groups were interested.” Some other participating organizations include Orchestra, Boy Meets Tractor, the Phoenix, Rhythm ‘n Motion, Delta Upsilon, and a bevy of sports teams–tennis, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, and soccer.
For some groups, the competition for the nomination was quite fierce. “After a series of thumb wrestling matches and an epic rock-paper-scissor match, I was chosen by my group to lead us to victory in the Mr. Swarthmore competition,” revealed Mr. Delta Upsilon. Not all groups had members clamoring for the role, however. “I was selected because I am one of three freshman on the team, so the upper classmen really forced me into doing it,” admitted Mr. Tennis in an email.
LaSS is hoping to use the event and the attending parents to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Hamilton sees community service as one of the defining facets of LaSS. “We aren’t just about parties,” she explained when trying to differentiate the group from a sorority. “We regularly help at battered women shelters in Chester, and … proceeds from Mr. Swarthmore go to the American Cancer Society” she explained. Next year the group hopes to bring in a series of “speakers, like female alumni, who have done really good things within their profession.”
Interestingly, despite Hamilton’s efforts to set the club apart from a sorority, many of the participants in Mr. Swarthmore repeatedly the described LaSS as a sorority. “They are slowly solidifying themselves as the most dominant sorority on campus” wrote Mr. Basketball, while Mr. Lacrosse said “[LaSS] makes a good point in that there are two fraternities but no sororities.”
Mr. Swarthmore is being held in Upper Tarble from 9-11pm. The contest will be judged by Martin Warner, Myrt Westphal, Renee Clark, and Tom Elverson.