Police Shut Down Parties After Three Students Hospitalized

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.


  1. “According to Alli Shutles ‘15, one jovial officer danced the “Macarena” before asking students to close down Phi Psi.” Teehee!

    You guys sound like you’re having some interesting times back at Swat 😛

    • I cannot speak for the Bryn Mawr students, but to my knowledge all of the Swarthmore students involved are ok, returned the following morning.

  2. It’s a little odd to me that Public Safety served as intermediary with the fraternities while the other two parties had to deal directly with the police, including police from neighboring areas.

    Given that the fraternity parties were closed to members and guests and the Paces and Olde Club parties were open to everyone in the community, it seems to me that Public Safety should have a larger vested interest in helping those parties.

    I’m not taking issue with the way that Public Safety interacted with the fraternities: that should be the way Public Safety interacts with all parties on campus. It makes sense that Public Safety had an easier time helping the frats because they have a formed relationship with a clear leadership structure.

    So I don’t know what exactly the problem is, but Public Safety should have a clear way of communicating with party hosts so that all parties can be equally served by Public Safety.

  3. “One handle between each couple? And you all claim you are nothing remotely like a drinking club…”

    So your argument here is that this one very particular incident brands the fraternity as a drinking club? Hmmm indeed. I’m not a member of DU, but I am well aware that those handles (if every brother did choose to do a handle, which I’m not sure is true) were personal choices by individual members. The handles were not provided by DU and no frat money was spent in the process of procuring them. The individual choices of brothers to pursue a handle vs. a fifth or whatever size bottle they might wish to bring to formal is their individual prerogative and should in no way reflect on the fraternity at large.

    From my understanding of the evening, only two people involved at the DU formal were hospitalized; I fail to see how two people getting carried away with a bottle therefore constitutes the formation of such a generalization about the entire fraternity.

    Stop the frat hate. It gets old.

    • Well I’m glad we went from talking about drinking to rape. Having trouble arguing one point so switch to another? Interesting tactic. Anyway, I’ll do my best to stay on topic (you know, the original one?) and then I’ll address the other topic that, while important, is completely irrelevant to this conversation. To put some of this in perspective, I am a member of Phi Psi fraternity. Can’t really speak to the nitty-gritty of the goings-on at DU, but I have plenty of friends over there and have a pretty decent handle of what goes on.

      My first issue is, I wasn’t aware drinking culture was an issue down on Sharples Lane. Yes, we party every Thursday and every Saturday, but always in a safe controlled manner. The past four years I’ve been here I could count on one hand each year the number of ambulances required to remove a student (be they a brother or otherwise) from one of the fraternities. A number of our members are DART or PA-trained (in fact the head of DART is a Phi Psi member…oops) and we ensure that all of our events have one such member present or on call in case of an emergency. During the fall Phi Psi also holds several dry events, including a barbecue and bowling night.

      On the rape issue. Thank you again for generalizing about the fraternities. 2 for 2 on the day. Not only are we all alcoholics putting everyone on campus at risk, but we are all rape apologists who demand no accountability from our brothers. Wrong. Phi Psi, and I’m sure DU as well, has a no tolerance policy for sexual assault in any form. Issues of rape are kept under wraps by the school, not by us; basically if someone within the fraternity were to commit such an act, we would have no idea. I truly feel for survivors on campus who have to deal with seeing these people living normally everyday, but I think it is horribly unfair to put the onus on the frats, as it is impossible for us to obtain that information; that sort of reform needs to come from Parrish.

      Since we can’t know who these alleged brothers are, we instead try to get involved with the survivor community as a brotherhood to try and help as best we can. We do Clothesline in the spring, sent sober brothers to assist SMART at Halloween this fall and Genderfuck last spring, and did our own power of words campaign. We’ve had workshops with Beth Kotarski in the past to educate our brothers on these issues and will continue to do so in the future. So yes, I think we are as accountable as we can possibly be.

      Nobody, and I mean nobody, in my four years of being here, has ever had that nickname. Ever. I don’t think DU would stand for that nickname. Phi Psi does not.

      Instead of trying to break the frats down at every turn you might try and be constructive. Hell, maybe even try being accepting of our community. I find it odd that we accept Swatties of all stripes into our membership in addition to letting anybody into the house on a weekly basis to party with us, yet so many of you can’t bear to (or even try to) tolerate us.

      • “Phi Psi, and I’m sure DU as well, has a no tolerance policy for sexual assault in any form. Issues of rape are kept under wraps by the school, not by us; basically if someone within the fraternity were to commit such an act, we would have no idea.”

        Uh-uh. I believe that at an official level this is true, but I have been at Phi Psi and witnessed brothers on door duty dismissing reports of sexual harassment happening just feet from them. I don’t know if the harasser was a brother in this case, but you can not sit there and try to act like frat culture never involves brothers covering up for each other.

        Yes, these are isolated cases, I would not claim that every single member of a frat is a rapist, but I believe that as institutions they provide a safe haven where (even if not by the letter of the law) people do feel safer in committing sexual assault.

        Also, just because you ‘accept Swatties of all stripes’ doesn’t mean that we have to put up with the negative side of having frats. You sometimes do good for the community, you provide a party space, you are accepting, all this is entirely true but doesn’t cancel out the negative points of frat culture.

        I haven’t heard a word about someone using the N-word as a pledge name, but since all we have to go on are your word and Hmmm’s, I could believe either way.

      • “I believe that at an official level this is true, but I have been at Phi Psi and witnessed brothers on door duty dismissing reports of sexual harassment happening just feet from them. I don’t know if the harasser was a brother in this case, but you can not sit there and try to act like frat culture never involves brothers covering up for each other.
        Yes, these are isolated cases, I would not claim that every single member of a frat is a rapist, but I believe that as institutions they provide a safe haven where (even if not by the letter of the law) people do feel safer in committing sexual assault.”

        Are you for real. You are not basing any of this on anything. This is the kind of thinking that makes people hate us and the worst part about it is that it is all based on assumption. Official or unofficial, the fraternities do not tolerate or cover up cases of sexual assault.

        So yes, I will sit here and assert that frat culture at Swat does not involve brothers covering up for one another on issues of assault. I understand that this is an attack on the fraternities as an institution, but do you have any idea how infuriating it is to see these things being written as a member of one of those two groups (especially when the claim is little more than a guess, an inference made from an anecdote or “he said, she said” stories)? It pisses me off and I know it pisses of other brothers that this is how we are viewed. I’m not sure how you’d like me to prove to you that we don’t have meetings where the subject matter follows the, “well brother x assaulted person y, should we report it or cover it up?” Those conversations NEVER happen in general meetings, nor among officers. EVER. The entire basis of your argument is based on an assumption built off your own personal stereotypes of fraternities and an anecdote of you seeing somebody (who probably wasn’t even a brother, see below) dismissing a claim of assault…does anyone else think this is not ok? I thought at Swarthmore these are the types of blanket assumptions we are not supposed to make…about anyone.

        About you witnessing a dismissed claim: neither fraternity does door duty; as I said in another post, we sometimes have trained brothers in the house during parties (but always on call), but we don’t man the door. SAC-funded events are PA’d. I have no idea where you got that tidbit from, but clearly it’s impossible. Plus, if there are issues involving sexual assault, seek out a sober brother or get in touch with the leadership ASAP; something will be done. If we don’t know it’s happening (to whom, when, circumstances) we can’t stop it, punish it, or prevent it.

        If anyone is sweeping anything under the mat, it’s Parrish. In all of my time in a fraternity here at Swat, we have never talked about a brother being involved in a sexual assault. Take note: this is not because the officers try to cover it up, but rather because Parrish doesn’t tell anyone what is going on. Unless that brother comes forward and volunteers the information, we wouldn’t even know an assault occurred. Think about it.

      • “Please explain this to me: Phi Psi has a convicted assailant who was suspended for physically assaulting someone and threatening others still in their fraternity. What the hell? Aren’t you supposed to hold your brothers to the highest standard? That is literally frightening to me and makes me feel unsafe.”

        This is a case we are aware about and the school took action on. I’m not going to go into the details of the case nor will I talk at length about the brother. However, he was suspended as you said for a semester. Upon his return he was suspended yet another semester from the fraternity; he has since been reinstated with no issues. We took action. Got any other things you want to try and throw in our faces?

      • Sure. Black kid is annoying unspecified DU brother. DU brother takes belt and whips said black kid while he’s on the ground and demands that he call himself Toby.

        In case you’re curious this is a racist reference to the show Roots where character Kunta Kinte was beaten by the plantation owner who demanded that Kunta and everyone else call him Toby to dehumanize him.

        Look. I can keep throwing these at you and you can keep denying your problematic culture in the frats. But I think any unattached observer can see what’s going on.

    • While I agree that a fraternity is not directly responsible for individual drinking decisions, if there’s a pervasive culture of excessive drinking strongly connected with being in a frat, then that’s a problem.

      Naming no names, someone I was acquainted with in the past few years proudly declared one night that he had attained some kind of leadership position among the group of people rushing because he was “the only one who didn’t throw up.” Really?

      • The only pervasive culture of excessive drinking connected with the frat is what the campus community at large attaches to us. THAT is actually a problem. I’d love to look at the statistics for the number of hospitalizations of fraternity members on Thursdays and Saturdays as opposed to non-Greek Swatties; I think you’d find we are not the ones that are drinking irresponsibly.

        Look, we love to party and we love having people party with us. I fail to see how being a social space that invites everyone down to its house to blow off steam week to week means that we are engendering an excessive drinking culture at Swat. If you don’t like drinking, that’s cool, but don’t tell me that I’m drinking too much if you don’t drink at all. If you do drink and think we drink too much, why aren’t we sending people to the hospital (or Worth for that matter?) every weekend? We are always worried about the safety of our brothers and of those partying with us, which is why we are never afraid to get into contact with Public Safety, never afraid to tell somebody enough is enough, and always willing to help a brother/friend/random Swattie back to his/her/their room. I can’t stop you or other Swatties from associating negative drinking culture with the fraternities because all it is is your own opinions and stereotypes, based off of…what?

        And as to your story: do you really think that was the basis for a member to be elected to a leadership position…

        • To (I would have thought, unnecessarily, but apparently not) clarify: my understanding was that this was not a formal elected position. Hence my use of the phrase “some kind of leadership position”, rather than something like, “and this is how officers were chosen”.

          Ultimately, the point is that whatever it was this person achieved, it was achieved by being the only person among a group of people engaging in excessive drinking who didn’t throw up.

          I also think using the number of people sent to the hospital as a measuring stick is an almost useless metric, since there’s plenty of over-drinking that can happen without needing to be hospitalized.

          Just a thought: I suppose they could have held anything, not just alcohol, but maybe the recurring blanketing of the grass around the frats with red solo cups and other debris probably doesn’t help with that drinking culture image.

        • Did you stop to think that maybe this person was making a joke? I can assure this is not how positions are determined at Phi Psi.

          And in response to using hospitalizations as a metric, how is it a poor one? If more people are getting sick elsewhere on campus and need to be taken to Springfield, doesn’t that mean everyone else doesn’t know how to imbibe properly? And I said Worth as well, not just the hospital (for the cases that don’t quite require an ambulance). And piggybacking off of that, brothers buying handles for one another is somehow a BETTER metric at determining problems with drinking at the house? Interesting.

          Now, in response to your thought. Have you been to the frats on a Thursday night/Friday morning? Between the two houses we have anywhere between 150 and 250 people, a group comprised of brothers, friends of brothers, and random Swatties (the last two being the obvious majority) making the trip down the hill from Pub Nite. I’m sorry that the ground is littered with cups Friday morning and sometimes Saturday, but be aware those aren’t from just brothers (Phi Psi doesn’t even use red cups). Pub Nite uses solos, but I don’t hear anyone trying to shut them down and I pretty much guarantee that most of the cups on our lawn are people’s drink cups from Pub Nite that they throw out before entering the frats to get fresh ones. So again you aren’t talking about frat drinking culture anymore, you are talking about Swat drinking culture. For more on drinking culture, please see Joe Hag’s comment below. He’s much more eloquent on the DG than I.

          This was rushed. Sorry, finals.

        • It won’t let me nest another reply, so I’m replying here, instead.

          No, I have no reason to believe this person was joking about his rush experience.

          I stand by hospitalizations not indicating a whole lot, since it is possible to drink to excess without drinking so heavily that hospitalization or even going to Worth is necessary.

          I agree that the littering situation is more that people in general should be better about what they do with their cups (red solo or other brands and colors). My point wasn’t that it’s the frats’ responsibility to police where people leave their cups, it was just to suggest why people might associate a drinking culture with the frats.

          Also, this bit? “brothers buying handles for one another is somehow a BETTER metric at determining problems with drinking at the house?” Yeah, I didn’t ever claim anything of the sort. I have no problem with people gifting each other alcohol. Not sure why being against that is a weakness in anything I’ve said, since I didn’t say it.

  4. Dear friends,

    I write to address a comment that was posted in reference to how Public Safety responded to the events of Saturday night. First, I want to stress that the parties were ended for safety reasons.

    As far as who closed down which parties and how, College public safety officers worked with the PAs and RAs to close all of them – and I would like to extend my thanks to both groups for helping and supporting the officers. Police may have been in the vicinity or with a Swarthmore College Public Safety officer, but they did not close down the parties. I am very appreciative of the Swarthmore Borough Police Department who responded and who, along with police from the area, allowed my staff to take the lead and work within our community to resolve these issues without their direct involvement.

    Please always remember that safety is a shared responsibility. I am happy to talk with anyone who would like to continue this conversation.

  5. In response to anonymous comments regarding Swarthmore Greek life, please email me at rmctear1 so that we can discuss your accusations and use of stereotypes in a forum that is not anonymous in order to work together to foster a greater sense of community on campus.

    Thank you,
    Rory McTear
    President, Swarthmore College Delta Upsilon

    • So then don’t complain…if you aren’t willing to have a conversation with a representative of the fraternity to talk about specific cases of assault to help bring brothers to account, stop talking about how we aren’t doing anything…you aren’t doing anything constructive sitting at your keyboard taking shots at the fraternities

      • It’s hard for you to understand because you are, as far as I know, a straight cis white man, but to openly criticize the fraternities and bring to light these issues that I KNOW have occurred and attach my name to it makes me literally fear for my safety. I fear being physically and sexually assaulted and verbally harassed. You will can call me dramatic. You can call me a liar. But these threats are real and I am scared.

        • Ah yes. And here is where I have no rebuttal. Clearly I am ignorant of the atrocities committed person-to-person because I am a white straight cis male; I cannot possibly know the things that affect people who are not of these designations and therefore everything I say on the subject is moot. If this is the path of all your arguments, I think we are done here.

          I have explained to you as best I can that we hold our brothers accountable whenever possible and whenever information is available, but clearly that is not enough. What you demand is impossible, especially if you, or proxies for those who are afraid to speak up, remain silent; I’m waiting for someone to tell me how we can hold people accountable without information on specifics to hold them accountable to.

        • I have explained what Phi Psi has done to try bring awareness to issues of sexual assault, gaslighting, and other issues in this vein. We are trying to change the way people view Greek life on this campus by becoming more involved with these issues, since clearly people take the negative view of us in these matters. We will continue to do so.

          We as an integral part of social activity on this campus will continue to strive to be transparent and open on these issues and continue to raise awareness of them to help foster a community that is against sexual assault in rhetoric and action. I have tried to explain that to you here in this forum. Clearly I have failed. But I will not sit here and be made to look and feel like an asshole for trying to defend an institution and brotherhood that I love so that you can feel good about scoring some points against the frats and feel like you did a civil service. Congrats, Swattie. Keep hating, clearly that’s the catalyst that’ll start meaningful dialogue.

  6. Everything in moderation.
    Self-control, self-restraint.
    Enjoy the scene without spoiling the scene for everyone else.

    Swatties, humans, everyone, let us practice self-control and, in turn, self-knowledge, self-awareness.

  7. MR X,
    1. you say frat members are DART &/or PA trained. doesn’t DART/PA inform party hosts about appropriate chasers, mixing, water, etc? handles per bro? sounds like an invitation for alcohol poisoning, really.

    2. “I am well aware that those handles (if every brother did choose to do a handle, which I’m not sure is true) were personal choices by individual members. The handles were not provided by DU and no frat money was spent in the process of procuring them. The individual choices of brothers to pursue a handle vs. a fifth or whatever size bottle they might wish to bring to formal is their individual prerogative and should in no way reflect on the fraternity at large.”

    it doesn’t matter if the drinks were provide by the organization or not, its about what culture the organization fosters. there seems to be a “bring that handle as the secret santa gift” culture that almost all bros know to bring a handle to share with the family eh ;.

    3. on the rape issue-thanks for your response. its important to have sober escorts at halloween and genderfuck parties; and i hope you also have them during these fraternity formals too(?) since there seems to be a lot of drinking. [is that what “on call” mean?]
    and, i applaud these “power of words campaign” and workshops with Beth Kotarski and I hope among these is a consent workshop that acknowledges that dynamics of silencing and strives to make consent sexy.

    4. SOMEONE, speak about this “someone’s pledge name was “nigger.””

    • 1&2.) In response to the handle issue, this is a DU thing. Feel free to contact Rory, he put his info up. I can’t speak to the secret santa thing, but I do want to say something in regard to the comment about culture: I was unaware that getting a friend (or assigned secret santa brother in this case) a handle of liquor is poor form or indicative of excessive drinking culture (unless it is understood that this person must drink the handle by themselves? needs clarity).

      3.) yes, “on call” means we can call a brother (probably being a moleman, doing a paper or something) to come and help with an issue where the present brothers feel out of their depth in dealing with it. And in response to everything else here, we look forward to continuing the work we’ve been doing.

      4.) but actually

    • 1. I would first like to point out that there is a not-insignificant difference between bringing a quantity of alcohol to an event, and intending to/actually consuming that amount. If every person who attended DU’s formal had drunk nearly a liter of hard alcohol, I can assure you that there would have been significantly more hospitalizations. An argument based on, “Look how much alcohol they had! Obviously they must have a drinking problem,” simply does not hold up.
      What seems to have been lost here is that there are four fraternity formals per year; hospitalizations at these events are hardly a common occurrence or widespread problem. Unfortunately, for some reason on this particular evening, individuals exceeded their limits. It happens. Clearly, it happens independently of the fraternities–I can assure you there are significantly higher rates of hospitalization at Halloween or Genderfuck.
      Does Swarthmore have a harmful “drinking culture” that is in need of curbing? Personally, I don’t think so. 25% of students surveyed at graduation stated that they did not use drugs or alcohol while at Swat. We have lower rates of hospitalizations and citations than the vast majorities of similar schools (and astronomically lower compared to larger “party schools”). College students drink. For the most part, Swarthmore students do so safely and responsibly.

      As to 4, to my knowledge, neither of the fraternities have “pledge names.” Phi Psi certainly does not. As to the implied accusation of racism, one only needs to look at the members of the fraternities to see how ridiculous that is. Both Phi Psi and DU are accepting both in our rushing practices as well as our day-to-day operation. Phi Psi has brothers who identify as African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, White, mixed race, and race plays absolutely no factor in any decision made by the fraternity. Period.

      • In and of itself? No. But since we accept pledges of all backgrounds, welcome everyone to our house and events, don’t make decisions based on race and have no policies or practices that discriminate against anyone, I think you’re looking at an uphill battle to demonstrate racial prejudice from either of the fraternities.

        Generally, I think you’re confusing your preconceived ideas of fraternities with the reality of the fraternities at Swarthmore.

      • I think what Joe is saying here is that if we were racist, why would we let anyone who wasn’t of European descent into the fraternity…in this case, if we hated or were intolerant of black students, why would we let them join in the first place?

      • Are the fraternities expected to meet a designated quota of African-American brothers? At what point are they no longer considered racist? 5 African-American brothers? 8? If I correctly understand the pledging and rush procedures of each fraternity, they are open groups in which anyone who shows interest is welcome. Does this mean that either Phi Psi or DU turns away individuals due to race? Absolutely not.

        That being said, diversity is essential in any community. In recent years both fraternities have been pushing to facilitate a more diverse brotherhood. Recent pledge classes have been increasingly diverse and I hope that this diversity encourages even greater diversity in the future.

      • So I’d like to take issue with a couple of points you made in the above.

        First, you say that the quantity of alcohol is independent of drinking culture. I would reject that notion. Having each couple bring one handle of liquor to share creates an expectation that it is important to drink a large quantity of alcohol. Expectations are what create cultural norms.

        Second, you go on to counter the assertion that the frats do not have a disturbing drinking culture by citing statistics about the entire student body. That is wholly illogical.

        Third, the notion that by having people of color in the fraternities makes them not racist is so problematic and inherently wrong. The fact that you would make that assertion makes me highly concerned about brothers’ attitudes towards issues of racism.

        • “not-insignificant difference between bringing a quantity of alcohol to an event, and intending to/actually consuming that amount”

          ^that’s in response to your first point.

          In terms of your second point, why is it illogical to compare the statistics of the fraternities with the rest of the campus. If we are talking percentages and not absolute numbers, shouldn’t ours be higher as a result of our disturbing drinking culture? If not by that metric, than by what metric would you judge it? Off one event that occurred where a couple kids were hospitalized? Because that sounds wholly illogical to me.

          In terms of your third beef, Joe answered it above: “In and of itself? No. But since we accept pledges of all backgrounds, welcome everyone to our house and events, don’t make decisions based on race and have no policies or practices that discriminate against anyone, I think you’re looking at an uphill battle to demonstrate racial prejudice from either of the fraternities.”

          Building off of that, how else should we demonstrate we are not racist? Do we even have to? Because I find it hard to find evidence that we are. As Joe said, there are no barriers to anyone of color joining or hanging out at Phi Psi, nor have I heard of people being harassed for their race week to week at Phi Psi. Or is it, as Joe said, just a preconceived notion of fraternity life that we are white, wealthy, preppy, straight, classist, and racist…

          • It’s not illogical to compare the two but to cite data about Swarthmore as a whole and then use that to explain that the frats don’t have an issue makes little sense. It doesn’t give us any information about the frats.

            As others have pointed out, not having policies pertaining to race does not mean one cannot be racist. You need to have institutional policies to protect marginalized groups, otherwise the implicit culture of racism that dominates the mainstream will still exist. This is not dissimilar to affirmative action.

            You then mention that you shouldn’t have to defend yourselves against the accusations of racism. Numerous individuals have cited instances of racism and racial insensitivity. And even if these didn’t exist, why is it so problematic for the frats to prove that they aren’t actively oppressive? Why can’t there be more transparency, more accountability?

            Not only the frats should be held to these standards, Swarthmore as an institution and all of its subsidiaries should comply as well.

        • Well, let’s first look at this assertion that “the frats have a disturbing drinking culture.” As tempting as it is to invoke Hitchens’ remarks on baseless assertions, I’ll take it at face value. I’ll start by breaking it into two parts: that the fraternities encourage/cause irresponsible drinking in the wider student body, and that fraternity brothers themselves have harmful drinking habits.
          As to the first point, I’ll start with the FACT that the vast majority of drinking at Swat does not occur at the fraternities. If we were to close our doors to the public, every student on campus who wanted to could still drink to their heart’s content. Do we throw parties? Sure. Do we serve drinks at these parties? Yes, just like any other party. Do we pressure people to drink or encourage people to push beyond their limits? Absolutely not. As I stated earlier, I don’t think it can be reasonably argued that Swarthmore has a harmful drinking culture at large, despite the evil frats trying to get everyone hammered.
          As to whether fraternity brothers abuse alcohol, I don’t even know where to begin–because there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that conclusion. Some fraternity brothers drink frequently, others rarely, but ultimately we understand that it is an individual choice and responsibility. Where are the fraternity brothers being hospitalized? Where are the brothers dropping out or failing classes because alcohol gets in the way of their studies? Where are the brothers who have to drop extracurricular activities? I certainly don’t know where to find them. But I can tell you where to find the brothers who are taking the lead in educating the student body about drug and alcohol issues (take a look at the composition of DART team one of these days). I can tell you about the brothers at the recent Active Bystander trainings. Or the brothers who volunteer to help make other parties on campus safer, like Halloween or Genderfuck. Do many brothers choose do drink? Yes. But they do so in a safe, responsible way that does not interfere with their studies or their participation in the Swarthmore community. If you want to tell me that I am part of a harmful drinking culture, you’re going to need a little more than an “assertion,” to use your term.
          And to your final point, my comment regarding the diversity of the greek system at Swarthmore was to preempt the all-to-predictable allegation of being a “white-boys’ club.” My rationale for why we are not racist organizations (since when have we had the burden of proof here, anyway?) was that we do not make decisions or have any policies related to race. So, fundamentally my response is this:

          Name one racist practice or policy of either of the fraternities.

          I’d also like to mention that I understand that when these issue come up in a forum such as this, we can often seem defensive and unapproachable. It’s frustrating to have blanket accusations lobbed at you and your friends without any specifics that can be addressed. If there is something that we do that makes you feel uncomfortable in our house, we can’t change it if we don’t know about it. (also, just to be clear, those were all general “you’s,” that wasn’t specifically addressed to Hope.)

      • Joseph,

        While I certainly understand your eagerness to defend the Greek organizations on campus from allegations of racism, I can attest to the fact that there have been multiple incidents involving inexcusable racial insensitivity by fraternity members at Greek functions, parties, etc. Having served as president of two cultural groups over the course of the past two years I can confirm the fact that we have had to support the victims of such incidents on multiple occasions. One of the biggest issues seems to be the air of secrecy with which some of these situations are handled – it leads to the rumors, questions, and confusion we have seen in a great many of the comments on this thread. While the privacy and comfort of the victims/those involved are of utmost importance when handling any such issue, I am convinced that there are ways to deal with incidents like these with a level of transparency.

        Though I am deeply troubled by these incidents I do want to thank those those fraternity members to whom we reached out, their patience and understanding was greatly appreciated and I do hope we as a campus can start making an active effort to keep these things from happening again.

        – Paul

      • Not having policies regarding race also doesn’t make you not racist. Hence the existence of affirmative action in higher education. Being colorblind doesn’t make race and racism not exist. This is why we need a diversity requirement at this college.

        • Oh and by diversity requirement I mean course requirements that discuss issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and ability. Not racial quotas.

  8. It’s sickening that a group of such intelligent people need absolutely zero proof before they accept something as fact. Nobody’s pledge name was ever that, and there was no “one handle per couple” at the formal. These are simple untrue, and it’s really difficult to have a legitimate argument when we have to spend time defending these obscenely false statements. Just because we are taking about serious issues does not mean its okay to act like your in high school and be an instigator in rumor spreading.

    Do your best to be unbiased and check your facts like any mature Swarthmore student would.

  9. I’m going to do my best not to be unnecessarily provocative or argumentative.

    Our student body’s reaction to greek life – both to the establishment of a sorority on campus and to the existence of fraternities – reveals an Achilles Heel in Swarthmore’s willingness to embrace diversity, equality, and freedom. I do not mean to suggest that all perspectives and/organizations are worthy of campus adoption, but it is a dangerous trap for us to believe that anything which is unfamiliar or alien or has vague, distant ties to another institution that exhibits bad behavior is automatically dangerous. A Kantian review of such an approach quickly shows the problem – is our maxim as an institution that we will only embrace the different when it is aligned with a set of criteria with which we are familiar? Or that we will only accept entirely original institutions that could not possibly be linked to anything disagreeable? There are plenty of groups on campus whose actions or beliefs I find narrow-minded and at times offensive or even threatening. But as a respectful human being and as a student who strives to heed Swarthmore’s values, I deal with that by engaging in productive dialogue with those groups rather than spewing venomous lies and passing unfair judgment.

    it is interesting to me that the students who so loudly preach diversity and acceptance appear to be the same students who unflinchingly voice their opposition to greek life. I am committed to the diverse ideal, and though I openly admit that I am imperfect in pursuing it, I can sincerely say that I make a genuine effort to embrace diversity. But this is exhausting. People who party, athletes, and other stereotypically “mainstream” communities on campus introduce a valuable form of diversity to Swarthmore: one that I could repeatedly prove, through a series of solid, true examples, is under-appreciated and even unwanted.

    Swarthmore’s culture is disturbingly hypocritical. This issue extends far beyond the debate over fraternities, but this is a stellar example of it. Swarthmore, the great equalizer, an institution praised for its dedication to acceptance and tolerance and the rejection of stereotypes and societal constructs, just can’t extend that philosophy to the fraternities.

    Swarthmore does such an admirable deed for the world by training its students to stop stereotyping commonly mistreated groups, such as the LGBTQ community, racial and ethnic minorities, various religious groups, and socioeconomic classes. Why can’t we also break the mold by proving that fraternities can be full of responsible, respectful, contributing members of society? Why can’t we work to prove that frats don’t have to be generic hotbeds of all of the world’s most grotesque behaviors, just as they are in movies or at larger, much crazier, much less socially enlightened schools? I thought we as a community made a pact to break with stereotypes, but I’m still waiting to see that wave of tolerance and conscious acceptance wash all the way down the hill. Stop falling victim to confirmation bias. Stop letting your preconceived ideas of what a fraternity looks like inform your notions of greek life on this campus and look at the facts instead. Stop doing to others exactly what you fight so hard to keep others from doing to you: making unfair assumptions that are both hurtful and destructive to building a community.

    I am obviously not asking that we accept sexual assault or irresponsible drinking or racism. I am asking that we confront those issues as a campus and stop unfairly blaming those who are not responsible for them, and in many cases, those who are making the most conscious, active effort to recognize and put an end to these problems.

    • This comment was going to be way longer, but I’m going to keep it short in hopes that people will actually read it. What bothers me most about your comment is that you think Swarthmore is doing “such an admirable deed for the world by training its students to stop stereotyping commonly mistreated groups, such as the LGBTQ community, racial and ethnic minorities, various religious groups, and socioeconomic classes.” It’s not an “admirable deed,” Lanie. It’s one of the core values of Swarthmore that you keep talking about.

      And yet there are still students on this campus who not only stereotype these marginalized groups, but openly discriminate against them. Let’s not even talk about the little comments that people make every day. Let’s just stick to the ones everyone knows about. The kid who was called a fag in Paces last year for dancing with another guy. The people who joined in chanting “U.S.A.” when a Swattie’s friend started waving a Confederate flag around at Pub Nite. The person who wrote “queer dorms, kill ’em all,” and all the people who told the ones who were getting upset about it that it wasn’t a big deal.

      • I believe that teaching a community to adopt and embrace a set of respectable core values is an admirable deed. How is it anything short of that? Why does diversity being one of Swarthmore’s core values diminish the importance or the goodness of spreading that message?

        As I stated in my post, we are imperfect; it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. But I didn’t hear anyone say that any one of those incidents wasn’t a big deal. I saw students rally around the causes at hand and try to fix the arising issues, whereas similar incidents at other schools, let alone in the real world, are frequently met with a “deal with it” attitude.

        Nowhere in my comment did I state or even imply that all Swatties everywhere are perfectly tolerant and accepting. What I said rather was that THAT is an issue worth fighting. And if we’re going to talk about unsafe spaces and racism and homophobia, we should be talking about that as a whole campus; not directing a lot of unfair hatred toward the frats.

        • “But I didn’t hear anyone say that any one of those incidents wasn’t a big deal.”

          I don’t really want to re-fight something I found rather unpleasant and upsetting last semester, but I heard this said, repeatedly.

        • Maybe that’s because you’re straight and white. I don’t mean that in a degrading way but you don’t deal with the persecution and discrimination marginalized groups feel. I was personally told my an administrator that “kill ’em all” was not a legitimate threat that should cause concern.

          And to say that we shouldn’t focus on especially unsafe spaces on campus is ridiculous. If we’re having a problem at the frats, let’s work on the frats. Logic friends. Logic.

          • This is a tangent, but an important one: I am so sick of the argument that because one does not belong to specified groups, one cannot possibly understand the pain of discrimination. I am a cis, white female, but that doesn’t automatically mean that I have never experienced discrimination.

            I am an atheist. I have been physically abused for being part of a ‘religious’ minority, and I was told by a few of my Swarthmore friends that I could not possibly be a moral person without believing in God.

            I am also lower middle class (poor for Swarthmore, unfortunately). One of my Swarthmore friends once let slip that I was on financial aid in front of another friend, who immediately insisted that, unlike me, he wasn’t on financial aid “because my parents actually work”. Other cis white friends of mine have been told they are not intelligent enough to be at Swarthmore because they couldn’t afford to go to private school.

            You cannot look at a few traits of a person and know whether they have experienced the pain of discrimination or not. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this argument, and just how offensive it is. If you think a person is wrong, prove it. Attacking their experience just shows that you don’t have a leg to stand on, and they might just tell you something you wouldn’t expect to hear about their personal experience with discrimination.

          • That’s absolutely not what I’m saying. I’m saying that it can be difficult to empathize with the pain queer students face when confronted with statements like “kill ’em all” because their lives aren’t in jeopardy. They likely won’t feel the same kind of fear LGBT students face. Just like while I can sympathize with the discrimination and oppression black students face at Swarthmore (I advocate for black students frequently) I will never truly be able to understand their experience as a white person.

          • “Maybe that’s because you’re straight and white. I don’t mean that in a degrading way but you don’t deal with the persecution and discrimination marginalized groups feel.”

            Seriously? is responding to what you said. You tried to delegitimize the argument of another commenter by commenting on their sexual orientation and race. I happen to agree with you that the original argument is wrong, but there are so many better ways to disprove her argument.

          • It’s astonishing that so many people hold this perception. Does being a straight cis white male render him incapable of empathizing with people that have been marginalized?

            Let me share a story with you and maybe it will change your mind. I am a member of a fraternity. I grew up in a relatively comfortable middle-class upbringing. But I am only one generation away from poverty, from parents that grew up with abandonment and the insecurity of not knowing when their next meal would be. And today, as the eldest child carrying the mantle of that legacy with me, I’ve struggled with racism, with feeling like an inadequate person, and even with my own sexual identity. But I guess if all you cared to see was a cis male in a frat, you wouldn’t have known that about me.

            I’ve had several incredible conversations with the people proudly I call my brothers about these subjects. And always, I keep in mind that if they don’t understand some of these things, I can help them understand by explaining my perspective rather than name-call them. Maybe once we stop labeling every member of a fraternity as a drunken cis-white rapist, we can have some productive conversations.

            The struggles of feeling marginalized are all part of the human experience. And the more we as a campus community feign the illusion that somehow these struggles are exclusive within each sub-group, the farther we step away from being a community. It disgusts me that we sometimes entrench ourselves in our differences rather than celebrate them. Please open your mind and get to know some of these people. I know I have, and I’ve become a better person for having done so.

    • I hope this doesn’t come off as a personal attack Lanie but to compare LGBT students and students of color to frat brothers is really offensive. Minority students are marginalized and oppressed. We conduct anti-oppression work to combat that. The frat brothers do not need anti-oppression work because most come from the most privileged groups of society. They don’t have laws against them. They aren’t victims of hate crimes. They don’t fear for their safety as they walk down the street.

      As for the training you’ve participated in for not stereotyping LGBT students, please tell me more. I wasn’t aware Swarthmore had mandatory training programs on diversity. Even if Swat did do that, to call it admirable is again offensive. It’s not admirable to not oppress people. It’s the right thing to do.

      To suggest that the stories about the frats are lies is simply untrue. I can confirm everything that has been said. They’ve happened.

      Please go ahead and scrutinize other campus groups. I assure you you would not find such defensiveness and denial.

      People aren’t angry at the frats because they are “foreign” and “different.” These cultures are EXTREMELY familiar to everyone. They permeate the dominant culture everyday. We challenge the frats because what they’re doing is wrong and runs counter to the values of Swarthmore as an institution. They deserve to be scrutinized.

  10. Hi,

    I’d just like to point out that for an indefinte period of time, the soon to be Kappa Alpha Theta sorority will only be able to throw dry parties So, if you are looking for dry alternatives to parties on Saturday nights, swatties who feel social pressure to drink at wet parties will have an alternative!

    Just food for thought

    nom nomz.

    Ms. Bi

  11. First off, I’d like to say my experience with the fraternities has been positive, despite what stereotypes my demographic may suggest. And that’s the crux of the matter here; look beyond stereotypes. I may not understand or respect every single quality of the respective frats, but that is fine–I don’t expect to. I go by my first-hand experiences, which have been good. And when they aren’t good, I don’t blindly point blame. I recognize that my opinions relate to my personal feelings and don’t necessarily ring true for others and do not speak to the integrity of organizations.

    But the real debate here should not be fraternities vs. the rest of campus. This has become a question of student acceptance and every group doing its own part to ensure inclusion, safety, and integrity. The culture of each student group at Swat is determined by those who wish to participate; if every group was evaluated based on perfectly fitting the needs of every single student, no group would remain. That is not to say that groups do not have a responsibility to maintain an inclusive and accepting culture–but it is impossible for every student to agree, and thus impossible and futile for every student to feel that if a group doesn’t meet his/her standards, it must change drastically or shouldn’t exist. The diversity of this campus would plummet if that were true.

    The frats are student groups like any other and should be given the same respect to determine a culture that works for them, as long as it is safe, inclusive, etc. And it is worth noting that the frats’ presence on campus comes from the fact that male students consistently want to join and many, many students consistently want to party there on Thursday and Saturdays. The fraternities do not impose themselves on anyone. People who are strongly against greek life need not attend. The frats are also receptive–very receptive–to constructive criticism when well argued and fairly given.
    Lastly, I’d like to just point out that this campus intends to make a place for everyone and support everyone’s interests–and “everyone” includes those of us who enjoy frequenting the frats. The frats aren’t perfect. There are issues they need to work on. But I’m positive that if you scrutinized every group–not to mention every person–you’d give the same prognosis.

  12. Seems like the fact that people are contentiously debating whether there is or is not rapey, sexual assault-y, and racist cultural aspects to Frat life should indicate that these perceptions have sprung from real incidents. This probably means that there is a problem with these things at some level, whether they are structural to the frat institutions is important. But yeah just be civilized about talking about that. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist, but don’t pretend frats members are all demons or that accusers are all lying.


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