Halloween Party to take place on Mertz Field

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.

The popular, annual Halloween party is going to be held on Mertz Field this year. SAC has received funding from SBC and the blessings of the Dean’s Office and those in charge of campus spaces to set up a large tent in which the party will be held.

“The tent has 4 walls and the entrance/exit will be PAed. We are hoping to use Mertz 1st floor bathrooms for the event and there will be at least one PA at the door of Mertz to identify those entering Mertz as Swat students. We are also looking into renting heaters but we do believe that with so many people in the tent, the body heat alone will be enough to make the space warm enough,” SAC co-director Rebecca Commito ’10 said.

For the past couple years, the Halloween Party’s location has a debated topic. The party was originally held in Mary Lyons dorm, but its location changed after Halloween 2005, when the Deans’ Committee took into consideration ML residents’ complaints. 2006, the first year that SAC and StuCo co-sponsored the party, saw a lot of deliberation over the location of the party, but Upper Tarble was decided upon and exempted from its usual dry policy for the night. The party stayed in Upper Tarble for 2007, though concerns about preserving Upper Tarble in the face of party-sustained damage and the safety of the space itself took Upper Tarble raised concerns as to whether it should be the party space for the following year.

Last year, the party was held in Sharples, which was considered a successful event location. “Given the success of this particular party, we’re going to continue to think of it as a possible space, but we’re going to do it on a case-by-case basis,” said Paury Flowers, Assistant Coordinator of Student Activities.

The lack of ideal spaces on campus for large-scale parties has traditionally been an issue on Swarthmore’s campus. Last year’s location, Sharples, was deemed undesirable by some organizers because of the work required to arrange and clean up the space. “Though Halloween in Sharples was a lot of fun last year, the space isn’t conducive to housing a campus-wide party because of the difficulty of arranging the spaces/chairs/tables, having enough time to set up between dinner and the party, and having enough time to clean the space appropriately for breakfast the next morning,” Commito said.

This year’s tent idea is not new: former StuCo President Joella Fink ’07 proposed in 2006 to have the Halloween Party in a tent in the parking lot between LPAC, Lang Music Building, and Martin. Fink said in 2006 that “part of what makes [the Halloween Party] work is the novel space and just the sense that things are different and unusual. We’re taking it pretty far this year, but hopefully to good places.”

Having the party in either ML or PPR would require the consent of the dorms’ respective RAs, and this year they didn’t show interest in the big undertaking of hosting an all-campus event in their living spaces. There is also the safety concern of having at least a thousand Swarthmore students walking off school property to reach these locations.

The rain location of the party is the combination of Upper Tarble and Paces. However, organizers prefer the tent, indicating that it eliminates the risk of students climbing up and down two sets of stairs to reach the bathrooms in Tarble and the refreshments in Paces, not to mention the fact that it’s a novel location.

“This is the best attended campus event all year and we really want to make it fun and safe for everyone who comes. We think that this is the best option because all the party-goers can be together in one location and on one floor,” Commito said.


  1. 0
    <3 says:

    Sad face. StuCo. SAC. Whatever ya name is. You guys… Long, sad, drawn out sigh! Really though?

    I'm hoping for the best. And maybe it just won't be cold that night. And who knows. Maybe students will respect the personal living space of Mertz dwellers and not wreck the ting.

    …But in the mean time, I'd like to send a shout out to all the PAs on the hustle, working hard to keep the po-po out the do-do!!

  2. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    ^ At Paces on Saturday they played Taylor Swift, then a clip of Kanye mouthing off to her, and then Beyonce. It was a pretty sweet/clever juxtaposition that, for me, made it a good party. And I had no need or desire to drink. Doesn't take much for me, just a little whimsy/novelty/artistic flair is all. Like a bigass tent!

  3. 0
    I love Swat, but face Reality says:

    @ Peter'11:

    "…we have consigned ourselves to guaranteed mediocrity."

    At the end of the day, We're at SWARTHMORE. ANY party located anywhere on campus is guaranteed to be mediocre (without the assistance of copious amounts of alcohol), for various reasons ranging from the typical Swattie awkwardness to all the other imperfect components necessary to legitimately label a gathering a 'party'. Plus, as soon as one has attended in excess of one party at this school, the possibility of encountering something truly different plummets to nil. That said, why sacrifice reason in pursuit of illusions such as 'novelty'? The only true end worth striving for as far as Swat parties go is convenience and contentment (whether found under the influence or not). Moving the party, sufficiently accomplishes these two aims; so the wisest thing for you to do now would be to try to at least appreciate this new development, because your peers overwhelmingly will come Saturday night.

  4. 0
    practical one says:

    Who forgot to include port a potties in the initial plans?

    This is a huge error in judgment. Even if the tent wasn't used as a venue, the dorm bathrooms or Sharples bathrooms should not be the vomitoriums for the party.

    Also, please be mindful of how beautiful campus is and spare the rose garden and arboretum plantings from any harm.

  5. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Tent party could have been novel and awesome, or totally sucky (is mud the end of the world? Anybody ever seen the Woodstock movie?). With the move to Tarble/Paces, we have consigned ourselves to guaranteed mediocrity. And we are apparently perfectly content with that scenario. Thanks for trying, SAC folks.

  6. 0
    student says:

    so the approx. $5,000 used to rent this tent (this is my personal estimate), is this coming back to us? is it going back to SBC?
    SBC, i'd like an answer.
    thank you.

  7. 0
    Katie says:

    Even though SAC hasn't been great in advertising all of this….

    Yes, there was a thought process behind everything. No, Facilities would not let them set up a tent anywhere else on campus other than Mertz field once they decided they wanted a tent. So maybe chill out with the accusations of thoughtlessness until they actually get it together and let us know what their decision-making process was.

  8. 0
    Agrees with Anon2 says:

    Anon2 had a great idea:

    "b) If a tent is the end and be all, set it up on the fragrance garden lawn as an overflow space to a Paces/Upper Tarble party. Music in Upper Tarble. Booze in Paces. The tent as overflow. It's contained for noise and PAs can block entrance to the garden from limited points."

    It's both very practical and very possible. Has this been taken into consideration?

  9. 0
    Ross Herman says:

    Besides the many other issues raised above concerning the horrible decision of using Mertz field, the mud is something I am particularly concerned about. As a former DK resident who would constantly cross this field, I know that it is essentially never dry there, especially during this time of the year. Even if there was a dance floor (and how are we going to put down ~1,000 sq. ft. of temporary flooring?) it still would not suffice in keeping people from getting horribly dirty and wet.

    I also disagree that Mertz was the "last possible" location. As mentioned above, the Science Center, its parking lot, the Martin/Science Center commons, or a combination of any of these seem much better suited to the event. It appears to me that SAC did not think things through on this with the initial location selection, how to properly implement the use of the chosen location, or the inevitable public response to what should have been an obviously controversial choice.

    Considering the shitstorm above to which I am contributing, SAC should have at least consulted the community before making everything final. Even if the location itself is set in stone, its implementation could be improved by opening up the discussion earlier and therefore help to prevent all of this anger.

  10. 0
    Seth G. ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    So, It does seem that the largest issue here is that when we get drunk, we are disrespectful and break things. Swat Athlete's point is well taken, though I wish it weren't true; the field house is ideal.

    As to practical solutions, as long as we're agreeing to pay like X dollars for a tent (let's assume it's $400-500), it would probably go further to spend that money on extra cleaning services. I'm sure there's some unionized cleaning group that could come in and make things look as good as new. Also, you could probably pay 10 students 10 bucks each for one hour of cleaning, on the condition that they show up to clean Sharples/Tarble/wherever.

    Though I am sympathetic to SAC on this one. It does seem like everywhere else turned them down. Still, 3 suggestions; a tent would have been better in between Kohlberg and Sci Center (where it is less munddy); PAs at the top of the stairs at Tarble to help people who need it; and a dedicated, outside staff to clean whatever building we do end up using as a better use of money than a giant tent.

  11. 0
    anon 2 says:

    Seems to me that the issue is not a lack of suitable spaces on campus. After all, ML was suitable. Tarble is suitable. Sharples is nearly an ideal large party space. The real issue is that everyone who agrees to host a party decides not to do it again. That's a different conversation (why isn't it possible to have a party without trashing the place?), but one that might be worth having.

    As for practical solutions:

    a) Figure out what it takes to make Sharples work. It's a perfect space.

    b) If a tent is the end and be all, set it up on the fragrance garden lawn as an overflow space to a Paces/Upper Tarble party. Music in Upper Tarble. Booze in Paces. The tent as overflow. It's contained for noise and PAs can block entrance to the garden from limited points.

    c) I'm surprised nobody has considered the Science Center commons as a party venue. A tent between the Science Center and Kohlberg with both Science Center and Kohlberg commons open for use would also be a logical alternative.

    I would only recommned a strong appreciation for how good Swarthmore students have it right now with the current town/gown and alcohol enforcement norms. That is a very rare situation and should be cherished and nurtured. Once that sort of relationship falls apart (usually on the heels of a big negative event such as a party gone wrong), it is very hard to put back together.

  12. 0
    anon says:

    I have an idea! Why don't we just not have a Halloween party and everyone can stay home and carve pumpkins?! sound fun? Please stop playing the blame game and appreciate the efforts people are making to ensure a safe and fun party for everyone. This party is a huge hassle and we need everyone's cooperation.


  13. 0
    Swat Athlete ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As to why the field house is not a feasible option for the Halloween party:

    Alcohol is one of the NCAA banned substances, therefore, it can not be served/consumed at any athletic event or in any athletic space.

  14. 0
    SAC says:

    The Sharples staff did not okay the Halloween Party being in Sharples again this year. They were part of the dialogue last year and okay-ed the venue last year. Due to the mess created last year, they will not allow the space to be used again this year. The cereal was put away into a side room last year, but students broke into the room.

    Every suggestion that has been made in these comments was considered. After discussion with the Deans, the Mertz field was decided upon as the best option. It's not as if anyone is thrilled with having the party there – it's just that there are very few options left. Just as using Sharples last year was experimental, using Mertz field this year is also experimental.

    The problem is that there is no ideal location on campus to hold a party the size of the Halloween Party. ML was a near ideal location when the party was held there (with the safeguards that a previous commenter mentioned put in place). However, as the dorm has not been an option in recent years, it's been a struggle to find a venue that most of campus will be happy with.

  15. 0
    imagina how angry I would be if I lived in Mertz says:

    More good things about the fieldhouse:

    No stairs to get into the building, or to get to the bathrooms. Translation: fewer ways to drunk people to hurt themselves.

    It's in between the off-campus dorms and campus, so no one lives very far away from the party.

    Why wasn't this space considered?

  16. 0
    imagine how angry I would be if I lived in Mertz says:

    Let's do it high school dance style: in the gym. The fieldhouse is indoors, large, not too far from campus (since ML and PPR were considered options). Maybe the space is occupied by some sporting event on this night, but I also would have assumed that SAC would have thought "well Mertz is occupied by its RESIDENTS so we should hold it somewhere else."
    Also, not so sure why Sharples gets to so easily say no when the poor residents of Mertz will have a much larger burden. No one lives in Sharples. No one has to shower in the Sharples bathroom that weekend before EVS returns on Monday. And it sounds like the PA's will have their hands full trying to keep Mertz from descending into chaos. Lord this is a stupid idea.

  17. 0
    Cereal Mover Extraordinaire says:

    Sharples was not a possible location because of the mess made with the cereal? Surely moving a few containers of cereal is less of a hassle than putting up a tent in Mertz Field, and doing so would give us a space free of near-unanimous student condemnation.

  18. 0
    spacecadet says:

    great, so we have all succeeded in criticizing SAC, but have produced nothing constructive. SAC member brought up legitimate reasons why we cant have it anywhere else – do any of you have solutions to offer? How about having it in 3 separate spaces like the genderfuck party in the spring?

    Admittedly, this problem might be pointing to a larger issue that there isn't a good space on campus for large social events, but we can't really do anything about that now, given our financial situation.

  19. 0
    hi says:

    SAC member-

    as to 1) "Sharples did not want the Halloween Party back this year," so Sharples is a building; it doens't have opinions. On whose behalf are you speaking here? Did the Sharples staff not want it to be hosted there again? Why were they even involved?

    On the subject of PAs being in the doorways of Mertz: so I think you're underestimating what a bottleneck that is going to cause. I can imagine a better target for the police than a largely stationary line of drunk people OUTSIDE, but it's pretty hard!

    So I'm really doubting the wisdom of this decision,and considering not one of the commenters so far seems to feel it's a good idea, I think we can safely call this a consensus. With that in mind, it might be time for SAC to start thinking about Defeat is an Orphan excuses.

  20. 0
    AC says:

    There's no money for port-a-potties, yet there is money for a giant tent? I must admit, the idea sounds fantastic, but pretty much everyone has brought up legitimate issues. I'd highlight the concerns over Swarthmore police shutting down the party early, state police being notified of the party and gate-crashing, and the ruined state of Mertz field after hundreds of students have danced on it for a few hours.

    According to weather.com, October 29-31 will be "Few showers" to "Showers", with a 60% chance of precipitation and a high of 54 on the 31st.

  21. 0
    SAC member says:

    As a SAC member, here are a few important points that were left out of the article:

    1) Sharples was not a possible location. Due to the mess made last year (specifically with the cereal), Sharples did not want the Halloween Party back this year. Hopefully, students can better respect spaces in the future so that we can all continue using them.

    2) I'm not sure about the PPR RAs, but the ML RAs were asked this year (as they were last year) about hosting the party and they said no.

    3) The Mertz RAs were notified before the location became official and were asked for their input.

    4) The first floor Mertz RAs were asked if it was okay to use the Mertz bathrooms. Both said yes (after hearing about the safeguards that SAC and the PAs would put in place).

    5) There will be PAs at the Mertz entrance for crowd control. They will also watch for extremely drunk students and prevent them from entering.

    6) There is no money for port-a-potties.

  22. 0
    Repudiating the Party Dorm says:

    I empathize with Mertz residents. I can only imagine how thoroughly upset I would feel if Willets had been designated as a Bathroom or even party space for such a historically well-attended event. In fact, I am unhappy that Willets is currently so lowly regarded by the Swarthmore community-at-large.

    …My feelings aside, I think the Port-a-potty idea is sound. If a party is hosted outside, then part-goers should theoretically remain outside until they exit said party. Besides, it is much easier to clean up bodily excretion if it inadvertently (but certainly not unexpectedly) appears either on the ground or inside of a temporary structure…

  23. 0
    anon says:

    Another issue is the way a tent party might be perceived. With the worst economic collapse in 60 years, the College is trying to come to grips with necessary budget cuts while maintaining the core elements of a Swarthmore education. Faculty and staff are sacrificing pay raises. I suspect that many parents and students are enduring financial hardship this year. President Chopp has called for a new focus on sustainabiity and simple living, which seems appropriate and reasonable to the times.

    Just from an "optics" standpoint, it seems like a good year to "make do" with the facilities as they exist at Swarthmore, and spend any extra funds on something of necessity rather than a luxury like renting and heating a tent while Sharples and Paces/Tarble sit empty. Those optics are important when some in the Swarthmore community are surely struggling to make ends meet this year.

  24. 0
    alum says:

    I lived in ML back when the Halloween party was held there (2002-2003). The RAs were informed and were usually in charge of the party planning. One important aspect of the Halloween party in ML was that non-ML residents were not allowed into most areas of the dorm, except for bathrooms that were easily accessible without passing students' rooms. PAs guarded the stairs to make sure that non-residents couldn't enter (and subsequently trash) the whole dorm.

    The bathrooms in Mertz are more of a problem because guests will necessarily have to pass through students' living spaces (1st floor hallways) in order to access them. And I'd strongly suggest that RAs or PAs stand by to make sure that guests don't get out of hand inside the dorm.

  25. 0
    Volunteering to clean says:

    It's hard for me to believe that the money and time involved in putting up a giant tent on Mertz field isn't greater than the money and time involved in the "work required to arrange and clean up" Sharples. What a terrible idea.

  26. 0
    Not Surprised says:

    Considering that the Mertz RAs didn't get included in the discussion either, I'll assume the DG was told that PPR wasn't interested by someone on SAC.

    … were the ML RAs even asked, I wonder? (Important safety issues of having drunk students wandering the streets of Swarthmore, um, notwithstanding.)

  27. 0
    Stephanie Appiah says:

    "PPR RAs didn't show interest"? We were not asked,and last year,when we proposed holding the party in PPR, we were denied in favor of possibly ML and then Sharples.
    –Stephanie Appiah, a PPR RA

  28. 0
    and again another Mertz resident says:

    This threatens the personal safety of Mertz residents as well as our living space. The mess will be an extra burden on Merts EVS staff. We can't feel safe, never mind have a good living space, with the largest party of the year right outside and all the doors left open to any drunken member of the party who wants to come in. It's not as though we can all choose to live somewhere else for the night–this is our living space! and we need to feel safe. The party doesn't have to happen here though. There is no consideration for the safety of Mertz students, a place that has already been established as not safe with recent events.

  29. 0
    another Mertz 1st resident says:

    Could SAC consider renting port-a-potties or something? Mertz 1st shouldn't have to bear the brunt of the entire campus' drunken craziness.

  30. 0
    SK says:

    We might as well deliver a hand-written invitation to the police. With all the drunks walking back and forth, they're going to have a field day.

  31. 0
    why is sharples involved says:

    lets keep it on track boys, I know soren likes to have his opportunities to talk about economics, and peter likes to be argumentative for no reason, but this is the place to make fun of sac's idiotic decision to hold the halloween party in mertz marsh, not earthlust's sharples policy.

  32. 0
    Jack Keefe ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    I have it on pretty good authority (as in: I asked an RA) that the Mertz RAs were not consulted before SAC decided to designate Mertz as a, um, bathroom… though the 1st floor RAs were apparently informed that this was the decision. While Mertz certainly isn't being used in the same way as ML used to be–that is, as the actual party space–it seems inevitable that there will be some discomforts to Mertz residents, both on the night of the party itself and on subsequent days, if only due to the probable clean-up that will have to occur from hosting the half the school en route and to the rest-rooms. It seems as though the RAs should have been consulted, even if they may have (I haven't the faintest as to their aggregate opinion) eventually agreed to it.

  33. 0
    Soren Larson says:


    Their initiatives have only been successful to a limited degree. If they actually want to make meaningful reforms, they need to change people's food consumption behavior, which will only happen when people pay for what they consume. The model under which Sharples operates now is not even close to pareto optimal.

    To be fair, however, it's likely that imposing changes would be unpopular (surprise), 'inequitable' (though I'd say the system is pretty inequitable as it is, though less perceptibly), and costly in terms of time and money given current infrastructure in place.

  34. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Uh, Soren, I'm pretty sure Earthlust (and their subsidiary of more or less the same people, Good Food) DO worry about Sharples quite a bit…they had that whole composty thing going on…I'm sure there are better things to make fun of them for since that's one of the major things they actually HAVE taken an interest in. Try googling: sharples earthlust.

  35. 0
    Urooj Khan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The idea is theoretically pretty cool, but the location of the tent seems like a not-so-great idea. I vote for the field between Kohlberg and the Sci Center.

  36. 0
    Soren Larson says:

    Re: anon:

    Has anyone considered the carbon footprint of eating?

    On a more serious note, the wasted food at Sharples really should be a concern of Earthlust. This wasted food comes as a result of Sharples' flawed model, which invariably leads to overconsumption of sub-optimal quality food. … Anyway – back to complaining about this brilliant idea for Halloween.

  37. 0
    <3 says:

    Sad face. StuCo. SAC. Whatever ya name is. You guys… Long, sad, drawn out sigh! Really though?

    I'm hoping for the best. And maybe it just won't be cold that night. And who knows. Maybe students will respect the personal living space of Mertz dwellers and not wreck the ting.

    …But in the mean time, I'd like to send a shout out to all the PAs on the hustle, working hard to keep the po-po out the do-do!!

  38. 0
    Jack Keefe ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    So, to summarize:
    (1) Mertz is going to be ruined [exaggeration], just as ML annually used to be prior to the ML RAs getting backbones.
    (2) Mertz 1st is going to be *hell* on Halloween night, not to mention the, ugh, bathrooms.
    (3) All the slutty cats and slutty dinosaurs are going to be cold as all fuck if SAC doesn't get heaters.
    (4) Anyone dumb enough to wear their antique high heeled red doll shoes will be muddy as hell.
    (5) All of the above won't matter much in comparison when everyone is *arrested by the police*.

  39. 0
    E says:

    I really think there should be a dance floor on the grass and there probably will be. The field would be completely ruined if there were no floor… I also think there should be heaters, but I like the idea of it being outside.

  40. 0
    anon says:

    This will be like shooting ducks in a barrel for the state alcohol enforcement officers, who have already said they want to set an example at local colleges.

    What's the over/under on Swatties cited for underage drinking at an outdoor party in what is essentially a public space? Haverford/Bryn Mawr had 27 citations if I recall.

    Williams had a senior class tent party two weeks ago. Shut down for noise complaints at 11:30 pm. These things are all but guaranteed to be town/gown disasters.

    I don't really understand the College going out of its way to test the limits of a generally accommodating "don't ask/don't tell" status-quo on alcohol enforcement. Seems short-sighted.

  41. 0
    M says:

    This plan sucks. It's going to be freezing cold and muddy, and as someone who lives in Mertz, I am NOT HAPPY about the idea of our bathrooms getting totally trashed. Especially since it's a weekend and EVS won't be around to clean! Also it's pretty obvious that freezing partygoers will just invade the Mertz lounge and move the party there. This is a really really stupid idea. I don't think the benefits of "no stairs" and "novelty!" have real value. We should just have it in Tarble/Paces like we did a few years ago. That space is DESIGNED for events, and it works. There's no burden on any particular dorm (did the Mertz RAs agree to this??), it's inside so there's no weather, and Anon has a point about potential noise complaints!

  42. 0
    Mertz 1st resident says:

    Could SAC consider renting port-a-potties or something? Mertz 1st shouldn't have to bear the brunt of the entire campus' drunken craziness.

  43. 0
    Jeanie Glaser '11 says:

    Novel space, maybe, but has anyone actually researched how much body heat will actually raise the temperature, or is this just a guess? Considering that Halloween costumes tend to be on the skimpy side (for men AND women!…that flimsy polyester stuff doesn't go very far for warmth), or at the very least don't incorporate coats and woolen tights…this sort of sounds like a bad idea.

    Heaters pleeeeaaaaase?? I'm shivering already, just thinking about it.

  44. 0
    Peter '11 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I think this is a cool idea. Plus, it's practically an indoor space as far as police are concerned, if they're guarding the entrances (except intoxicated people walking to the bathrooms, I suppose, but people would have to go outside to leave any party eventually , if the police were intent on busting people). I like novelty. Yay.

  45. 0
    anon says:

    This seems like a very ill-considered plan in light of the uninvited guests at the outdoor party at Haverford earlier this fall. Considering the concern of similar visitors at other schools, it's almost hard to fathom why now would be considered a good time for an outdoor party.

    At a minimum, this party will likely be shut down for noise complaints before midnight.

Comments are closed.