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.
Student Council and the Dean’s Office sponsored a student life dialogue on Tuesday evening, where Deans Braun, Westphal, and Flowers, and Tom Elverson ‘75, Alcohol Education and Intervention Specialist, answered student questions on the non-refundable portion of the Paces reservation deposit and Thursday night party permits.
Drug and Alcohol Resource Team (DART) members, Party Associates (PAs), members of Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi fraternities, Social Affairs Committee (SAC) and Student Budget Committee (SBC) members, as well as interested individuals and representatives from other student groups, were in attendance.
Elverson introduced the topic of Thursday night party permits, a topic on which The Gazette reported earlier this semester. According to Elverson, the enforcement of a Student Handbook rule that requires parties held on Sunday through Thursday to end at midnight is a matter of college liability. “I have to abide by the Handbook,” Elverson said.
David Hill ’13 added that official parties require PAs, saying this might pose logistical problems if, for instance, PAs have Friday morning classes.
Several students raised concerns that the newly enforced policy has affected student life in other ways. Residents in Worth and in Willets said they’ve noticed an increase in hall noise after Pub Nite on Thursdays, which coincides with quiet hours on many halls. Joseph O’Hara ‘12 suggested that designating spaces for students to gather post-Pub Nite might ameliorate this problem.
Maddie Williams ’12, a Resident Assistant (RA) on the first floor of Willets, also worried that decreased post-Pub Nite events might encourage students to pre-game more heavily before going out on Thursdays.
Students over 21 might also be led to travel off campus to drink on Thursday nights, a senior pointed out, saying that his friends had discussed going to bars in Philadelphia.
Liz Braun, Dean of Students, said that a larger community conversation would be needed before changes could be made to the current party permit policy. She suggested that students interested in investigating the policy request it be added to the Dean Advisory Committee’s agenda. The group is scheduled to meet in mid-November. Associate Dean for Student Life Myrt Westphal said that Student Council could also investigate the policy.
Hill pointed out that events aren’t required to obtain party permits if alcohol isn’t being served, meaning students can still gather after Pub Nite in spaces such as Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi.
In regard to transparency, Dean Braun said that, in retrospect, the student body should have been informed of the enforcement of the permit policy through email.
Students also discussed the new fees associated with reserving Paces for club-sponsored parties, which you can read more about here. Paury Flowers, Coordinator of Student Activities, said that the fee is a response to concerns over Paces’ sanitation. “We wanted to raise the bar in terms of cleanliness,” Flowers said.
One student suggested that Paces withhold deposits from groups that don’t properly clean the space, so that groups who do clean to standard aren’t penalized. Flowers, however, said that this practice has led to arguments in the past. People have different ideas about what clean is, Flowers said.
A former Paces Cafe worker followed up on this question, proposing that Paces lay out a specific set of guidelines for cleaning the space. According to Flowers and Tania Doles ‘12, a Paces Cafe manager, these guidelines have been part of Paces’ contract for several years. “It’s been very clear about what needs to be done,” Flowers said.
Joe Maiorana ‘12, SAC Co-Director, said that SAC hoped to cover the new Paces fee for student groups hosting all-campus events. SAC will propose to SBC for the additional funds.
The Deans stressed that discussions could lead to changes down the line but that more conversations would need to take place first. “We hope that this is the first in a series,” Olivia Ensign ’12, Vice President of Student Council, said of the forum.
Editors’ Note: This article was edited on 11/4 to correct Tom Elverson’s position. Elverson is Alcohol Education and Intervention Specialist and is not a Dean.