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.
Students who wanted to throw a Paces party this year were faced with a budgeting surprise. In the contracts, signed with Paces, instead of a $150 refundable deposit, the Dean’s Office and the Paces Management split it up into a $100 refundable and a $50 non-refundable fee, to go towards cleaning the space after the party was finished. The Dean’s Office did not inform the student body about this change, or explain why the $50 non-refundable fee was suddenly necessary.
On Tuesday night, the Student Activities Committee and Paces worked out an agreement, in which they lowered the cost of the $50 fee and decided that the fee will be fully covered by SAC, and not by the student groups that host Paces parties.
Paces, which is otherwise funded by the Deans’ Office, and SAC will be jointly presenting their proposal to the Student Budget Committee on Sunday. The SBC, after receiving budget appeals, has been retroactively covering the fee for parties thrown earlier in the semester.
“We need to ensure that Paces Cafe and Paces as a social space can cohabitate,” said Joe Maiorana ‘12, SAC Manager. He added that, because the space is used for serving food, health and sanitation standards need to be maintained. According to Callie Feingold ‘12, Paces Cafe Manager, the refundable fee put in place to assure that students would clean up after parties was not effective. “It is hard to hold your peers accountable, to get in touch with people,” said Feingold.
Because of SAC and Paces’ successful negotiation, individual student groups will not have to foot the nonrefundable cleaning bill. Still, students are frustrated at what they see as a lack of transparency in implementing the changes. “I was confused as to why the additional $50 was not announced,” said Maiorana. “Students deserve a just and holistic explanation,” Feingold agreed.
The Paces fee is the second party-related issue of the semester that the administration has neglected to openly discuss with student representatives and the campus community. It came just weeks after the administration declined to announce its decision to begin enforcing a policy that prevented the issuing of Thursday night party permits.
“They [the Administration] are selling a product of consensus-building and student input, but that’s not what we’re seeing,” said a member of SAC who declined to identify himself because he works closely with the administration.
However, on Wednesday morning students received an email from Dean Liz Braun, co-signed by Student Council President Tramane Hall ‘12, about an open dialogue about the social life on campus.
Paury Flowers, Student Activities Coordinator, did not see an issue with transparency on the part of the Deans’ Office. “The contract was updated. The information was available,” said Flowers. She said it did not occur to her and to the Deans’ Office to announce the decision to the student body. “Sometimes you make it more than it is by making a big announcement,” said Flowers. According to Flowers, the Deans’ Office did not think that students would be going to SAC or to SBC to obtain the $50 for throwing a party.
Until SAC members were able to talk about the fee with the Paces management, they were concerned about the implications the non-refundable fee would have about equal access to party hosting. Not everybody would be able to pay the $50 fee out of their own pockets. SAC also questioned the arbitrary amount of the fee.The reworked proposal assures that the number is not an arbitrary fee, providing wages for 4 students, some of whom are on work study. Provided the SBC approves the joint SAC and Paces proposal, Paces will be getting an additional $40 or $80 dollars a week, depending on the number of parties thrown.
Flowers explained the Deans’ Office line of reasoning, saying that they didn’t think one student would be throwing a party, that it would usually be a group where the costs would be split. “Would you agree that everything is free on this campus? It is not like that in the real world. Stuff costs money.” She said that students need to realize that there are certain costs that are needed to keep the space clean. Zac Wunrow ‘14, Booking Manager for Paces, agreed and emphasized the students need to take responsibility when they throw Paces parties.
According to SAC members, Flowers did not tell SAC that the fee had been put in place. One member claims they had knowledge that this sort of change in the contracts might happen, but they only found out about the fee when they were approached by the SBC.
Both members of SAC and some members of the Paces management were frustrated with Flowers not providing them the opportunity to have a three way conversation.
“If I would’ve done it again, I would’ve brought SAC and SBC into the conversation earlier,” said Flowers.
A member of SAC, who works closely with the administration, said that Flowers told the managers of SAC that the fee was not only supposed to serve as a deterrent to students leaving Paces uncleaned, but also as a deterrent to throwing Paces parties in general. According to both members of SAC and students affiliated with Paces, Flowers repeatedly said she would like the space to be used less for drinking, and more as a dry social space.
“It is not going to last if it will continue to serve this dual purpose,” said Flowers in an interview, referring to student health concerns.
“There were tough decisions to be made, the place needs extra TLC,” said Flowers. According to Flowers there have been numerous complaints about the space: the smell of stale beer, cigarettes, fruit flies, etc.
“There’s been a tremendous pressure on us [from the administration] from cleanliness.” said Mallory Pitser ’14, the Paces Business Manager. She added that they had tried to obtain additional funding for cleaning from the Dean’s Office, but without success.
“We’re trying to ease the [weekly] transitions from the raucous party space to Paces Cafe,” said Wunrow. SAC members, however, believe that Paces, is in its current role, is crucial for student social life. “It is our Student Union of sorts,” said a SAC member. It houses both Paces Cafe and weekend SAC-funded parties, organized by groups or individual students. According to the SAC member, there is no other space available for the typical “Paces” party: Olde Club is largely booked, the fraternities organize their own parties and Wharton D basement and Danawell trailer are in residential spaces.
However, the Paces management also wants to advocate for a variety of different events at Paces on the weekends, such as open mics, poker nights, etc., to broaden the spectrum of students attending Paces.