StuCo Report: Halloween Party

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.

Editor’s Note: Large portions of this StuCo meeting took place off the record in order to preserve a safe space for discussion. As this discussion continues in other settings, portions of it will continue to be off the record of both The Daily Gazette and The Phoenix.

Halloween Party

Sunday’s StuCo meeting focused almost entirely on student reactions to the implementation of new party policies at Saturday night’s Halloween Party.

Three Wharton Residential Associates (RAs) attended the meeting to raise their concerns about the strict enforcement of the school’s new wristband policy. The policy required students over the age of 21 to receive and wear a wristband in order to drink alcohol served at the party. As a general rule, Swarthmore College does not provide alcohol to students under the age of 21.

The RAs and StuCo members discussed the manner in which the new policy was implemented, as well as the results of the new policy on student health and safety. The group also talked extensively about the increased presence of Public Safety at the party and its effect on party environment.

Those present at the meeting stressed that a lack of communication caused much of the displeasure with Halloween’s heightened security measures. StuCo Co-Presidents Gabby Capone ‘14 and Lanie Schlessinger ‘15 emphasized the need for transparent communication between the student body and various student groups, the administration, and Public Safety in the planning of future parties.

StuCo members as a whole agreed that a systematic plan must be put in place for the execution of future Social Affairs Committee (SAC)-run parties. They also agreed that a more extensive dialogue with students is necessary as StuCo continues to examine its role in the implementation of new party policies.

StuCo hopes that this dialogue will continue at their party policy forum on Tuesday, October 29 at 7:30 PM in the admissions parlor.

Further details of this meeting will be expanded upon later this week in a full-length article on the changes in party and safety policies.


  1. Good thing we’ve got Mike Hill to surprise everyone with a barricade and TSA security — I haven’t seen freshmen so scared all year. And yes, their response to that was to go back and chug chug chug, just like the PSafe office at the door told them to do.

    Thanks, Mike!

  2. The new party policies have nothing to do with student safety. They are designed to make the college less liable. Whoever made the decision is going to point at the Halloween Party and say, “Look! Look! We only had two hospitalizations!! It makes students safer!” However, the majority of students had no clue whatsoever that the policies were going to be enforced. If they are enforced at later policies, I can guarantee you students will react by pre-gaming far harder than they have done in the past.

  3. It’s totally our inalienable right to consume college-purchased alcohol regardless of legality! That is part of a well-rounded educational experience after all…

  4. Yeah like those freshmen or anyone under the age of 21 actually had to go back to their dorms and chug alcohol. No one was forcing the alcohol down their throats. That’s the fault of the individual not the school’s fault for not wanting to just give out alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. Also it’s not like the school was punishing any for drinking outside of the party. I had multiple people on my hall just vomit everywhere, and public safety came and checked on them made sure they didn’t need medical attention and that was it. They didn’t report them or cite them or anything. Boo hoo if the school stops just paying for all of our alcohol. We’ll be just like everything other school except that the RA’s, public safety, and PA’s won’t care at all if they see an under 21 year old student drinking their own alcohol.

    • “Boo hoo if the school stops just paying for all of our alcohol.”

      Well, everyone has an activity fee included on their student bill, which assumedly goes to SAC funding, which then goes to purchase alcohol. The school will still be purchasing alcohol; however, not everyone will be able to partake in the alcohol that is purchased with their activity fee. This is one of the reasons the new enforcement rubs me the wrong way. I have to work campus jobs and take out loans to be here at Swarthmore. If I’m going to have to pay & work for an activity fee, I don’t think it’s that unreasonable that I benefit fully from it. If not, I could greatly use the extra money from lowering or removing the activity fee.

      • SAC funding does not fund alcohol. SBC does not fund alcohol. This is quite clearly laid out in the bylaws and forms.

        Many students choose to purchase alcohol and throw parties that way, which is their own decision.

        • So, you’re saying is that ~officially~ SAC & SBC do not fund alcohol purchases, but people still use SAC & SBC money to purchase alcohol?

          If that is what you are saying, I’m not really sure how that affects anything that I said, aside from the “The school will” sentence because ~officially~ the school does not buy alcohol through SBC & SAC.

          Activity fee money is still being used, whether ~officially~ or not, on things that are not available to everyone.

          • You cannot use SAC or SBC money to buy alcohol. Only items on receipts will be refunded. This doesn’t include alcohol.

            Learn about how things work before you start running your mouth.

          • If “No, you are wrong” is the same person as “Wrong,” would you care to explain what your previous comment meant? Because it seems that Wrong’s post insinuates that people still get money that could be spent on alcohol. I asked for clarification and did not receive any. I’m not sure how “No, you are wrong.” expects me to “Learn about things” if I don’t ask questions.

            However, if what I think Wrong’s post insinuates is true, this corresponds with what I have been told about the DJ fee i.e. that the money spent on “DJs” is typically spent on alcohol because whatever organization gives the money does not receive a receipt on how the money is spent. However, this is my attempt to “Learn about things” as I was so strongly encouraged, so please correct me if any of this is wrong.

            I eagerly await your elucidating reply.

          • “Wrong” is not the same person as “Wrong again.” There are in fact multiple people telling you that you have an incorrect understanding of the system.

            There are many students at Swarthmore who are independently wealthy and enjoy spending their own money on parties. This is perfectly legal and our social scene operates on a kind of altruistic sense of community.

            With regards to your separate point that activities fee funds are being used for things not open to the entire community — why not join SBC and learn about all the groups that receive thousands of dollars disproportionately to the number of students in them? One only needs to be a chartered group (2+ people) to receive SBC funding, and some are better at negotiating for more funds than others. Unless you are apart of every SBC funded group, you are probably not experiencing every activities fee dollar in action on a daily basis. So your understanding of the activities fee in general is not really correct either, because the intention behind it has never been that “every student will benefit from every dollar spent,” but rather to keep student groups — some of which are closed — running and funded.

          • Every student is not benefiting from every dollar spent. You are correct. Of course every student isn’t going to benefit from ~every~ dollar put into the activity fee pool of money. As we all know there are closed groups which receive funding, so we might not benefit from their funding. However, students ought benefit from the activity fee money that they have paid. And when what has been offered to students (possibly through their activity fee money) for many years might be taken away, it decreases the chance of them being able to benefit fully from the amount that they pay.

            You still haven’t clarified what your previous post meant, nor did you (or anyone else in this thread) address the DJ fee.

        • You are either willfully ignorant or a liar. The “DJ fee”? Come on. You might hide behind “direct” but that’s not really a good faith claim, since you know what its real use is.

    • Dear take responsibility,
      “we’ll be just like every other school”
      That’s my problem.
      I don’t want our drinking culture to turn out like other schools. I loved the emphasis on safety. I loved that students were not drinking alone or in small groups. You can argue for personal responsibility all you like, and while it will still be true that “no one was forcing alcohol down their throats” we know that making people feel like they are not respected enough to make good decisions (so that policemen have to walk around IN the party) will not increase a level of personal responsibility- the trick will become getting away with it, not regulating yourself. (Talk to Barry Schwartz if you think that you are so in control of your own decisions- lots of factors play into our choices)
      I think that what Swarthmore needed was well trained bartenders who would cut people (of all ages) off when they considered them to be too drunk. Is it the individual’s responsibility not to get drunk- yes. But we have to look out for everyone’s best interests. You might be able to shrug at people getting hospitalized, but I want to put in place as many nets to prevent that from happening. Enforcing the under 21 rule is not one of them.
      A good example of a well-run party was last year’s gender fuck.

      • Sadly, it is unlikely that such a party will happen again, given the departure of key personnel who both made things run smoothly and rebuffed Mike Hill’s more repressive measures.

      • Maria, I’m sorry but you’re just wrong. The old policy wasn’t rainbows and butterflies. When I was a freshman, 3 people in my dorm were sent to the hospital during my first semester. My dorm had around 35 freshman. People drank massive quantities before parties. Often, we run out of alcohol at parties. That’s why I would pre-game a lot my freshman year — because I was never sure if there would be alcohol when I got to party at around midnight. Also, people have no clue how much alcohol is in each drink. Am I saying that the new policies are great? No, I’m not. But let’s not pretend that everything at Swat was perfect before and now people are coming in and fucking it up.

      • Also the entitlement here is particularly absurd. No matter what you say and what you do, IT IS ILLEGAL TO CONSUME ALCOHOL IF YOU ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21. Why do Swatties think that they are above the law here? It really doesn’t matter if you don’t like it or don’t agree with it. There’s no reason except this gross sense of privilege and entitlement that Swatties think that if they don’t like a law that it shouldn’t apply to them.

        • False- then that gross sense of entitlement is felt at all colleges. I grew up overseas where drinking was acceptable at a much younger age. I go months without drinking anything and I didn’t come to college to get drunk and that wasn’t why I went to parties (I like to dance).
          I’m sorry if I painted the picture that before this policy everything was butterflies and rainbows. I agree that it wasn’t. However, I don’t think this policy is going to go in any direction towards slowing this problem. This American Life did a podcast on college drinking culture (I can find it if you like) and how rules and enforcement do not make students safer.
          If the administration only cares about the law- that’s one thing. But they shouldn’t make it seem like they’re trying to protect students. Especially since I am willing to bet that students under 21 who drink and are violated will be less likely to seek support and/or official action. I do not think that this is the right direction.

  5. I find this concerning. The way drinking and (soft) drugs were managed at Swarthmore was one of the reasons I enjoyed my undergrad experience as much as I did, although I personally did not do any drugs nor consumed alcohol on a regular basis. It was one of the hallmarks of a community that tried to look out for each other. Did some people abuse some of the privileges granted? Sure. But pushing this into the private (dorm room, etc.) sphere is not going to decrease any consumption, while exacerbating some of the risks associated with it.

    I can’t help but think that the issue here isn’t public safety, they probably only execute what the administration tells them. Who replaced Myrt and Dean Smaw? I’d start with those people to figure out where this change comes from.

  6. Let us get one thing ABSOLUTELY clear. Neither the Student Budgeting Committee (SBC) nor any of its focused funding committees, in this case the Social Affairs Committee (SAC), allocate ANY money for alcohol. The committees work on system of reimbursals to students after the event. For the most part, any of the expenses of the event will be covered by SAC but neve alcohol. SAC generally funds food, drinks (soda, juice etc), and miscellaneous other expenditures like lights or decorations. Nothing from the student activities fee goes directly to the purchase of alcohol so the suggestion that anyone, including those who are underage, are entitled to being served is uninformed and most importantly, wrong.

    On a related note, perhaps a public online forum is not the appropriate place to openly and freely discuss the intricacies of Swarthmore’s social scene. This discussion could be significantly more effective if contained to the Swarthmore community

    • You are either willfully ignorant or a liar. The “DJ fee”? Come on. You might hide behind “direct” but that’s not really a good faith claim, since you know what its real use is.

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