Haverford Party Raided by State Police, 31 Cited

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 story was written by Michael Novinson, with contributions from Jonathan Yu and Travis Taylor, all of The Bi-Co News, where it originally appeared. The News also printed an article about the raid’s legality, a timeline of the raid, and a piece about comments on the Facebook event listing. The original Facebook event can be found here.

Nearly 400 Bi-Co students planned to “drink your first week sorrows away” during Thursday night’s Lloyd Around the World party, but the public Facebook event attracted an uninvited guest – the Pennsylvania State Police.

“I hope this will set the tone for the freshman here.”
— William N. La Torre, police officer in charge of the raid

About 15 officers from the state’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement crashed the party at Haverford’s Lloyd Hall and detained approximately 40 students, citing 27 Haverford students and four Bryn Mawr students for underage drinking at a Lloyd Hall party.

“I hope this will set the tone for the freshman here,” said Sgt. William N. La Torre, who commanded the police force at Lloyd. He said Haverford students have a false sense of security regarding underage drinking on campus.

A first citation offense carries a maximum penalty of $300 and 90 days imprisonment along with a 90-day driver’s license suspension. However, it isn’t a misdemeanor and does not appear on the student’s permanent record.

It is possible for the District Attorney to place the student in an alcohol education program, if they are approached pre-trial. The state police will recommend that all students cited at Lloyd become eligible for the program, according to a e-mail sent midday Friday by President Dr. Stephen G. Emerson ’74, Dean of Student Life Steve Watter, and Director of Safety and Security Tom King. At the completion of the program all fines will be waived and the record will be wiped clean.

An anonymous person alerted state police to the party on Wednesday, at which point the police searched Facebook and MySpace for more information. La Torre said that the person also contacted police on Aug. 28 about Sunday’s First Drinker party, but police didn’t receive the message until Monday.

Neither police nor the Haverford administration identified the anonymous person, but Quaker Bouncers Co-Head Becca Varon ’10 said they were a student.

The Lloyd Around the World Facebook event contains implicit references to alcohol, promising “an eclectic variety of drinks.” The police checked the Facebook profiles of students who planned to attend and saw that many of them were under the legal drinking age of 21.

At that point, La Torre decided that his officers would attend the party as well.

“It wasn’t very bright to advertise an underage drinking party,” said La Torre, who has jurisdiction over Delaware, Philadelphia and Chester counties. La Torre’s liquor control office does not monitor Bryn Mawr since it is located in Montgomery County.

Dean of Student Life Steve Watter agreed with La Torre’s assessment. “If students continue to use web-based groups, the chance of police returning is very high,” he said.

La Torre’s office has undertaken the College Enforcement Initiative, which intends to set tough alcohol standards for the entire school year through heightened enforcement of underage drinking during September and October. La Torre’s unit cited 25 students for underage drinking following the Thursday afternoon football game between Villanova and Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.

Haverford’s Lloyd Hall. Photo from the Haverford College Office of Disability Services.

La Torre’s officers arrived at Lloyd around 10:30 p.m. dressed as college students and interacted with partygoers for over 30 minutes to assess the situation. The state police did not inform Haverford Safety and Security and local police of their arrival, and Emerson wasn’t aware of the College Enforcement Initiative.

Once they confirmed the presence of underage drinking, the undercover police revealed their true identity and intervened.

“The goal was to stop the event at the beginning,” La Torre said. By the time the raid began, though, virtually all of the alcohol had been consumed, eyewitnesses said.

Around 11:10 p.m., La Torre’s officers began rounding up people at Lloyd 10’s, asking students who couldn’t prove they were at least 21 to sit on the ground. La Torre said protocol was to ask students to cooperate, and if they didn’t comply, his officers would give loud commands, which would be followed by the use of physical force if cooperation wasn’t achieved.

After a belligerent student broke La Torre’s glasses, La Torre said his officers became more defensive and physically prepared in all detaining procedures. However, he said no students were injured in the process.

Students ordered to their knees by police officers witnessed multiple undercover and uniformed male police officers leading away and restraining an intoxicated, resistant female and several uniformed police officers forcing a male student to the ground after he resisted police orders.

Once the uniformed police began shining their flashlights around Lloyd Green, eyewitnesses saw upperclassmen hiding underage, intoxicated students inside Lloyd Hall. The police didn’t search the building, according to a Friday morning e-mail message from the Students’ Council and Honor Council Co-Presidents and Co-Chairs.

By 11:30 p.m., police officers had detained about 40 people – all students at Haverford or Bryn Mawr — on Lloyd Green, at which point the police individually questioned students about alcohol consumption, breathalyzed them and recorded personal information at three stations set up near the suite entrances.

Honor Council Co-Chair Gabe Schwartz ’10 alerted President Dr. Stephen G. Emerson ’74 to the raid with an 11:14 p.m. phone call.

Emerson and Watter arrived on Lloyd Green around 11:50 p.m. and consulted with students about their well-being. Emerson said the administration and Safety and Security should educate students about making good choices rather than enforce state laws.

“Part of growing up is to learn how things actually work in the real world,” he said.

He said the administration hasn’t turned a blind eye to underage drinking — on the contrary, he believes the administration emphasized the importance of state drinking laws and alcohol awareness during Customs Week. La Torre said no evidence exists of the administration turning a blind eye toward underage drinking.

The administration will hold a forum on the police raid at 4 p.m. Friday in Founders Great Hall.

Two dozens students remained detained at 12:15 a.m. Friday and all students had been released by 1:15 a.m. No students were charged with supplying alcohol to minors – a misdemeanor offense – and nobody were arrested.

La Torre said the liquor control enforcement will have no further involvement with the Lloyd case. He plans to work with Safety and Security to avoid future underage drinking incidents.

“The state police aren’t going to target Haverford,” he said.

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