Students and Deans Discuss Party Permits, New Paces Fee

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.


  1. “Students over 21 might also be led to travel off campus to drink on Thursday nights”


    This and many other excuses are obviously just scare tactics so that the administration doesn’t restrict us from partying past 12 on a Thursday night, for fear that we might endanger ourselves somewhere else, or bring the party back to the dorms.

    I understand that people don’t have classes on Friday and might want to start their weekend early, but I’m surprised that students are so adamant about this. If after hours parties hurt students more than they add to their social life, and if students can’t be responsible and considerate, then the college should step in. The college has always treated us like adults, except when we haven’t earned it.

    At the end of the day, we’re students, right? We all need time to cool off, but does that mean staying up on a Thursday night? I’d rather students fight to extend parties on Friday and Saturday, where they are woefully cut short at 2am.

  2. Susana – YES REALLY!
    These are not “scare tactics”, this is what happens when the administration restricts our freedoms, and we have a desire to socialize. Those old enough do go off campus to satisfy that demand. It may be a foreign concept to you because you are underage, but there is a large contingent of students here who want to party more and live a more balanced life.
    On a side note, do not think that those students are dumb jocks – I myself am an athlete, I maintain 3.7 GPA, have TAed two classes, and am a member of a fraternity. So at the end of the day, yes we may be students, but we are also adults. Adults that are capable of making responsible decisions. Adults that HAVE earned the right to be treated as adults. Not only should we be able to stay up on Thursday nights, but we should be able to stay up any night of the week. If you choose not to go out on a Thursday night, thats perfectly fine with me, but don’t try and restrict my social life.

  3. The biggest problem I have with this policy is the amount of extra noise this has/will lead to in the dorms. This isn’t a what-if scenario. Even outside of Willets and Worth, it has been noticeably louder on Thursday nights. The frats are a good place for people to chill out before heading back to their dorms. If they go straight from Pub Nite to the dorms, it will be louder. I was a resident of Willets last year, and the first thought that came to my mind when I heard about this policy was, “Poor Willets people.” Trust me, it was already loud enough before.

    I also second “Senior w/ a Social Life”‘s comments. We are adults and we should be treated like adults. If people can’t handle drinking and staying up late on Thursdays, it should be there decision not to do it. They can pay the price of getting bad grades if they make unwise decisions. To succeed at this school, we all have to work insanely hard. Most people are so stressed out of their minds that it definitely has a negative psychological impact. This school has an extremely unhealthy level of stress. The deans should let people release the stress the way they want to.

    If not enforcing this rule was such a “liability,” then why wasn’t it enforced before? It should have been incredibly obvious to any public safety officer that parties were spilling over into the frats after pub nite. Why is this becoming such a big deal now? If the rule was so important, it should have been continuously enforced. It obviously wasn’t. This sends a glaring mixed message to the campus, which is probably why it is causing so much of an uproar.

  4. “She suggested that students interested in investigating the policy request it be added to the Dean Advisory Committee’s agenda.”

    “The Deans stressed that discussions could lead to changes down the line but that more conversations would need to take place first.”

    Statements like the above are merely means of deterring meaningful dialogue. Sooner or later, the fires of dissent will burn out around Swat. People will eventually put their collective tail between their legs and turn Willets’ lounges into Phi Psi/DU’s beirut halls. Thursday will disappear from memory, because all the administration has to do is promise “changes down the line” until this year’s seniors graduate and hope that my class and those below just let Thursdays go. I could say this is unfair, but life tends to not be, so I’ll leave fairness out of it. This is some bullshit, is what it is. I am an adult. I balanced an internship with a state government and a paying job this past summer all while managing to balance partying with my friends when the opportunity arose. I believe I am not the exception at Swarthmore.

    A significant number of Swatties work in political organizations, activist groups, whatever. Why aren’t we doing anything (are we? I don’t know I am abroad)? Where are the petitions? Frat guys and athletes, this is primarily your turf they are encroaching on, where’s the fight? Sitting back and saying, “OK good, we’re gonna have some talks down the line, shit’ll change” will get you nowhere. Proactivity people. We’re Swatties. We know our limits better than anyone. The minute you let somebody tell you what’s best for you is the minute you find that all the respect you thought you had is gone, the control you thought you had over your life is gone, you’re ‘say’ is gone. What will you do for that say?

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