Many students at Swarthmore spend their Thursday nights at Pub Night, a weekly event held at Paces Café. In the past, some Pub Night attendees have moved to the fraternities afterwards to unwind after a night of dancing before returning to their rooms, an outlet that is no longer available as the administration has begun once again to enforce a longstanding rule against weeknight parties after midnight.
Any gathering at Swarthmore of ten or more students where alcohol is served is required to have a party permit. Previously, the permits were technically only allotted to parties between Sunday and Thursday that ended before midnight.
According to Tramane Hall ’12, DU’s rush chairman and social chairman and president of Swarthmore Student Council, this rule had faded from student consciousness, and the fraternities had been hosting parties after Pub Nite since 2008 without being cited by the administration.
“We usually have a keg on Thursdays and our parties tend to last from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m., so in effect we can no longer have these parties,” Hall said.
For its part, the administration notes that its party policies are meant to foster a safe, academic environment.
“Our party policies have been developed with a focus on education, community responsibility, and the expectation that student’s take responsibility for their own behavior and decision making,” said Liz Braun, Dean of Students.
“The party permit policy and the Party Associate program were both established to support these central goals,” she added.
Dean Braun emphasized that the weekday party permit policy is not new, and that the administration had been unaware before this year that the fraternities were in violation of it. “At the beginning of this year we discovered that the fraternities had not been in compliance with that policy so Tom Elverson reminded them of what our policies are,” Braun said.
Though the policy has been long-established, no student currently at Swarthmore was here before 2008 when it was last enforced. According to Hall, students are used to the frats’ role as a pressure release valve after Pub Night, and they are concerned about the possible consequences of eliminating that valve.
One potential result of the policy is decreasing class fundraising.
Hall said he received an email from a senior class officer concerned that the closing of the frats to students after midnight was affecting Pub Night attendance, the single largest fundraiser for the senior class’s Senior Week at the end of this year.
Another potential consequence may be an uptick in late-night dorm activity on Thursdays. With the frats turning people away, revelers spilling from Paces at the end of Pub Nite may be settling on their dorms as places to blow off steam.
“I’ve had people email me about not being able to work or sleep on Thursdays,” Hall said. “[The policy] is clearly having unintended repercussions for people who don’t might go out on Thursdays and normally wouldn’t have to worry about people coming back from Pub Nite.”
The shift in effective policy has not yet been formalized in an announcement by the administration.
Hall believes this reticence is contrary to Swarthmore’s values and should be rectified with dialogue. “I think there needs to be a dialogue between the administration and the student body on this issue,” he said.
“Even if there is no middle ground that can be reached, we need dialogue. Swarthmore is supposed to believe in Quaker values, one of which is consensus-building, and this change is clearly not a reflection of that,” Hall said.