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-run parties at Paces and Olde Club were shut down by local police on Saturday, following the hospitalization of multiple Tri-Co students. Four Swarthmore students were cited for underage drinking, two of whom were taken to the hospital. A Bryn Mawr student of legal drinking age was also hospitalized, while a fifth citation was given to a Bryn Mawr student who was not hospitalized.
That a total of three students were hospitalized was unclear until Tuesday, when Director of Swarthmore Public Safety Michael Hill and Swarthmore Chief of Police Brian Craig were able to confer by phone. On Monday, Craig said that six students were taken to the hospital, while Hill claimed that only two students, both female, were taken to the hospital. Hill said they were unconscious and unresponsive.
The fact that the two officials’ counts initially differed is indicative of the night’s overall confusion.
At about 12:30 a.m., attendees at a packed and energetic Olde Club party, i20’s Arma-Get-It-On, were dancing when, “all of a sudden someone shouted ‘cops,’ and people started running toward doors and windows,” said Alex Jimenez ‘16.
Emptying out of Olde Club, a panicked mob of sweaty students walked, ran, and stumbled up the slope to Paces’ End of the World party. Within minutes, local police were shutting down that party as well. Before long, Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi’s biannual formals were also shuttered.
The police presence on campus began more than an hour earlier. According to Hill, the first ambulance had arrived at around 11:50, which is approximately the time the police arrived.
Swarthmore Police had only one officer on duty Saturday night, said Craig. “Whenever that happens, we have a mutual aid pact with all the surrounding police departments, so we asked for assistance.” According to Craig, backup officers were called in from numerous other departments, including Nether Providence, Springfield, Morton, Marple, and Media.
Olde Club PA Marcus Mello ’13 said in a phone interview that he saw police lift two students into stretchers along fraternity row. “The cops proceeded to walk over to Olde Club,” he said.
“I saw a cop circulating [the outside] of Olde Club,” said Mairin Din ’13, “It seemed like the situation was rattling his nerves.”
“There was a concern because [Olde Club] appeared to the officer to be overcrowded,” said Craig. “It just looks like once they responded to the first medical call, everything just cascaded. They were running from one location to the other just trying to tend to people that were having problems.”
Mello said that around 12:30 a.m., police officers “entered Olde Club and asked for the PAs.” He said he unplugged the speakers, signaling the party’s end. Around the same time, he called Saturday’s on-duty PA Coordinator, Ben Kapilow ’13.
“The police came to the i20 party [at Olde Club] to tell us that we had to shut the party down,” Ximena Anleu ‘15, a member the i20 Board, wrote via email. “We responded to this by immediately turning the music off and telling everyone that the police were present and the party was being shut down.”
i20 members and police officers worked together inside Olde Club to encourage an orderly evacuation. “The police were fairly friendly and respectful with us (the party hosts), and explained courteously why they were shutting us down,” Anleu wrote. “I think it was apparent to them that we were being cooperative and so there was no real antagonism inside Olde Club.”
The RAs, leaving a party of their own, tried to assist. “[They] came upon fraternity row, saw what was going on, and tried to get involved and clear spaces out,” Hill said.
“When I saw that they were breaking up parties, I went over to Paces,” said Kapilow. “At Paces I went on the microphone and told everyone the police are coming and you should get out. They largely did, and by the time the police got there to break up the party, there were still people left over, and they were still getting out.”
“I heard from the PAs who were working at Paces that the cops seemed annoyed that people were questioning, you know, ‘why do we have to leave?’” Kapilow said. “But the PAs didn’t seem to suggest that the cops were being overly authoritarian in any way, not citing any additional people.”
Police also ended the fraternity’s formals prematurely.
“At approximately 1:00 a.m. members of Swarthmore Public Safety and the Swarthmore Police Department asked for our help in wrapping up the formal and closing up for the night,” DU president Sean Mangus ‘13 wrote via email. “By approximately 1:30 a.m. we had cleared the house of brothers and guests.”
At Phi Psi, the evening ended similarly. “When the police decided to shut everything down, Public Safety told me,” Phi Psi President Mike Girardi ‘13 wrote via email. “Public Safety acted as intermediary [between Phi Psi and the police] and kept me aware of what was going on at all times . . . Everything was professional. There were no issues.”
According to Alli Shultes ‘15, one jovial officer danced the “Macarena” before asking students to close down Phi Psi.
Many students, such as David Hill ‘13, the off-duty PA Coordinator, claimed that police generally give citations only to those students taken to a hospital, so the five additional citations on Saturday were uncommon.
However, a picture of cooperation is consistent with many students’ accounts of the night, and is supported by Craig and Public Safety’s Michael Hill. Both resisted the notion that the police had come to campus to catch underrage drinkers. “Generally we’re looking for people who are a danger to themselves or to the surrounding community in some way,” said Hill. “We’re not looking for the punitive aspect of this. We’re looking for the safety and education.”
Featured image courtesy of rshevin1.