Pub Nite No Longer to be Hosted by Sports Teams

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.

Established in the mid-90s by the senior class officers as a fund raiser for Senior Week Events, Pub Nite has evolved over the years from what Dean of Student Life Myrt Westphal describes as “an upper crust party with fine beers… you would pay to attend a beer tasting” to, well, something less than upper crust.

Over the years other groups, primarily athletic teams, realized that they could hold their own Pub Nite fund raiser in the first few weeks of classes before the senior class officers had been elected, but that will be coming to an end this year. The Student Life Team of the administration decided over the summer that Pub Nite would revert to being a senior class institution alone, something which also provides “stability and accountability” for the institution.

Westphal explained that “it felt weird to have a party focused around alcohol in the first week of classes while new students are settling in… and not just an alcohol party, but one you have to pay for. It seemed off for the culture.” She also said that “nothing triggered the decision” in particular, “but we have been thinking more about the social scene that doesn’t involve alcohol.”

As an example of the Student Life Team’s new emphasis on non-alcoholic activities, Westphal pointed to the Parlour Parties, an initiative to have fun non-alcohol-related social activities that were piloted one night a week last semester but will now be expanded to both Thursday and Saturday nights.


  1. 0
    CB says:

    I agree with also abroad. I am a junior that is abroad, and pub nite has always been one of my favorite nights at Swat because, unlike many other parties on campus, it is well-lit, attracts many diverse groups of people, has good (and varied) music, and is conducive to actual conversations. I understand the fact that the college is perfectly within its rights to actively enforce the legal drinking age, but I fear that if that were done than we would see many more students reporting to Worth with alcohol poisoining becasue they would drink in their rooms with closed doors. I have friends at “dry” campuses that do that. Taking shots in a room with a handful of people because one has to hide over sipping a few beers with many friends and acquaintances in an open – and much more mature and adult – environment? No thank you.

    I do support the fact that orientation is dry to allow incoming freshmen some time to settle in and make friends. But after that it is completely acceptable for them to act like the adults that they are and to be treated accordingly. I go to Europe to see my family every summer and have been going to bars and clubs and – gasp – consuming alcoholic drinks in these establishments since the age of 16 and I have never had alcohol poisoning nor been incapacitated because of the alcohol I have consumed. My point is that age should not matter in deciding the policy. Freshmen are new to Swarthmore, not idiots, so lets not treat them as such. At 18 (the age of most freshmen) one is considered an adult, which is enough for me. As the community in which we currently live has proved time and again, treating someone as an adult will usually (and admittedly not always, I know about the table incident as well as other regrettable ones, one involving a hatchet…) mean that one lives up to the expectation. Lets not change the wonderful community that we have now.

  2. 0
    James says:

    OMFG. You’d think Pub Nite was gone entirely! It will be back soon, stop having caniptions and and just remember that Swarthmore would be perfectly justified to rigorously enforce drinking laws.

  3. 0
    J says:

    I agree- Pub Nite is more for the atmosphere than for drinks. I also appreciate the non-alcoholic focused activities offered.
    I also think that if drinking is a concern for the school, then instead of taking things away from the students, they should provide more services to help students manage their drinking or manage pressures to drink. I’ve seen plenty of first-years get drunk in the past couple of years and never from pub nite. Not having a pub nite merely encouraged upperclassmen to drink in their dorms in front of freshmen.
    Does anyone know exactly who is involved in making these decisions- especially what group of students, if any?
    I know we’re spoiled in expecting to have a say in changes here at Swarthmore…but that’s kind of why I’m here instead of at any other school.

  4. 0
    Chris Green says:

    To Also Abroad,

    The reason we don’t have Sharples parties anymore is because at the beginning of my freshman year, someone got drunk and threw one of those solid wooden tables over the balcony, where it hit a girl’s head, miraculously not killing her. I don’t think any of the many additional examples that could be provided are necessary: sometimes Swatties can’t handle their liquor.

    It’s also sort of hard to blame the college for cracking down on activities which are patently illegal; you may appreciate it when the college turns the blind eye, but you can’t complain if it doesn’t… And the same socialist (I meant Quaker) sentiment which pervades the school sometimes does have a really nasty paternalistic streak. It’s the price you pay for free everything, once you buy in.

  5. 0
    also abraod says:

    While I agree that not having it happen during the first few weeks is not the biggest loss in the world, though that is actually when I’m most able to go because I have no work, This discussion seems to be about the larger cultural implications of the night. To Peter, pub nite isn’t about the beer but the atmosphere- duh. When you go to a bar and pay $5 for a tequilla shot that would have cost you 30 cents in your house, clearly you’re paying for ambiance. The pub nite ambiance is sweet. We dance and drink and are merry and raucous.

    But let’s bring it back to the sports team thing. It’s a good fundraiser and I think it doesn’t harm anybody. When Myrt says she wants it to be more accountable, the implication is that there have been some results she viewed as less than desirable. What are they? Would you care to elaborate?

    But really what bothers me is that this seems to be fraying at the edges of one of my favorite things about Swarthmore: its libertarian political stance regarding drugs and alcohol. Because we don’t generally do anything too stupid the college generally turns a blind eye to light drugs and underage drinking, though careful to prevent any specs from going to pub nite. It seems to be an unstated but mutually satisfactory agreement that the college won’t look if we don’t do anything too stupid. Swatties seem up to it.

    The degree to which this is a distinguishing factor of the student body, I think, was illustrated by the behavior of those kids from other colleges at the debate party two years ago. Kids from Princeton and other schools went to one paces party and became totally inappropriate. They couldn’t handle it, and whether that’s environmental (not being used to the freedom to drink) or personal, either way it’s a pretty good argument for keeping things lax for swat students. given lax rules, we behave responsibly. If there’s some evidence to the contrary, I’d like Myrt to present it. As it is, I’d hate for this to be the opening shots of a war against the somewhat anarchic utopia of Swat culture. I love that, and I would be pissed to see it undermined.

  6. 0
    alum 08 says:

    Wow, glad I’m gone. That blows, and I hope for the sake of the people I still know at Swat that it isn’t an omen of things to come. I always thought Jim Larimore was a mistake and would misunderstand or try to change Swat’s drinking culture.

  7. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just to clarify, I was saying paces parties are always the same, and pub nite is always the same, not conflating the two. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have your pub nite, just saying if it happens every other week you probably won’t miss a single week that much. I do understand the slippery slope argument, however.

  8. 0
    david weeks (abroad) says:

    this is lame.
    s’m ole buuuuuullsheit.

    explain to me how having a few less pub nites is going to change anything about our culture…

    moreover, why does the monetary aspect matter that much? Maybe if the admin didnt mind turning a blind eye to funding alch like they did back in these so-called glory days of the 90’s, they wouldnt have to charge.
    I dunno, this makes me a bit sad. Sounds more and more like swat is turning into another P.C.U. because of this sort of crap.

    on top of that, why on earth does making it a “senior class institution” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) mean that theres more accountability? It seems like a sports team hosting a party is way better for accountability than saying that pub nite is run by the seniors.

    maybe im being too caustic here, but it seems like they arent doing this because of accountability or to improve our “culture”, so much as maybe to minimize their liability. and hey, im not even saying that’s bad, but they should be honest with us and drop the bull$hit.

  9. 0
    Lauren Stokes ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    To clarify as the writer of this article: I didn’t get the declension narrative from Myrt, she was just factually explaining that it used to be more “upper crust” than it is now. So the tone there is my addition.

    Vivaan–I think she is saying something in between, but closer to the second. Alcohol and settling in don’t necessarily go together, it’s better to start drinking once you know more people here who can look after you, so on and so forth. But I’m not speaking for her, just fleshing out a bit as the person who spoke with her for this article.

  10. 0
    Chris Green says:

    An increase in non-alcoholic parties is really awesome to see. I know I really appreciated the Parlor Parties last semester, and am glad to see them continued and expanded. Thanks to the folks who organized and funded them!

  11. 0
    abroad says:

    Peter ’11, if you don’t like Pub Nite and don’t go to Pub Nite, why do you care? Paces and Pub Nite are not even close to the same thing. If you don’t like Pub Nite no one is forcing you to go, but for some of us it’s a really fun event. We dance, we sing, we play games, we bond. We squabble for the chance to make the pub nite play list. We listen to good music (one of many qualities that distinguishes Pub Nite from a mere paces party). IMO, Pub Nite is the most fun social activity of the weekend…beats a paces party hands down, and maybe it’s not as classy as the activities in which you choose to participate, but then again, I’m not judging the activities you think are fun so maybe classy is in the eye of the…beer holder? Yes, the beer is less than tasty, but yanno, no one is forcing you to drink it. So go to the parlor parties if that’s more your style but seriously, get over yourself and leave us Pub Niters to our own enjoyment.

  12. 0
    Parrish resident says:

    I am not a pub nite fan, but I am pissed that they are expanding the parties in parrish to thursday nights as well. Some of us like to do homework there!!! And since the upstairs lounge tv doesn’t get cable, shane is the only place to watch the daily show. I had to miss it last night b/c of said Parlour Party :(.

  13. 0
    T.C. says:

    I agree with everything that’s been said. It does seem weird that the administration feels the need to step in now more so than ever. I believe there is something larger at hand that Swarthmore is trying to fix, yet the details of what they are trying to fix are quite vague. People host non-alcoholic events all the time, and freshmen certainly don’t feel the need to go the first couple Pub Nite – I didn’t go until my senior year. If that’s the case, what are they gonna do to other parties that provide alcohol and you have to pay because SAC won’t sponsor it? It’s just one big mess.

  14. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, old pub nite sounds much nicer than current pub night. As someone who doesn’t like to drink to get drunk but wouldn’t mind tasting new things, I find it absurd that people pay for hideously disgusting beer, so that actually helps explain how pub nite started logically and gradually devolved into what it is now. Just my opinion, but I think if it exists EVERY WEEK besides the first couple it’s not a major hardship. If anything the fact that Paces and Pub Nite are pretty much the exact same thing every week is incredibly annoying, and I think it’s nice that the administration is at least trying to change it up a bit with the parlor parties (though, to be fair, at the moment they seem to be more of an opportunity to grab some free food than actual parties, I dunno, maybe some sort of activity would help.)

  15. 0
    c.s. says:

    I strongly disagree with this decision. It would be one thing if the administration was worried about freshmen drinking, but that is truly not the case. (For one thing, few freshmen come to the first couple Pub Nites) Instead, it is about the administration thinking that they know “the culture of Swarthmore” and have a duty to stamp out anything that they see as different. This seems very unlike my own (and most others’) interpretation of Swarthmore’s culture.

    One might call me paranoid, but there have been other examples of the administration thinking that they know better than the students what they want. Remember when Bill Clinton spoke at Bryn Mawr, when he had tried to speak here but was rejected because it was midterms?

    Apparently Swatties can’t manage time for themselves, nor can they decide their own culture. What’s next- The Graduate cancelled because it is against “the culture of Swarthmore”? Yes there are serious ethical concerns about Ben’s behavior, but I expect Swatties to understand and make opinions about it for themselves. I doubt that the administration would give us the same credit.

    Myrt: Give me back my Pub Nite (yes, spelled with an ‘ite’, it’s not upper class but it’s what I like)! And next time you try to stamp out something that I enjoy, remember that you don’t have to go- have your beer tasting if you want, but leave me to my flipcup!

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