Mixed drinks out, new safety policies in at this year’s Genderfuck

Students dressed up for last year's Genderfuck.
Students dressed up for last year’s Genderfuck. Photo by Holly Smith.

As part of an effort to create a safe space for students to experiment with gender identity, Genderfuck organizers are implementing a number of new safety measures this year. For the first time, only wine will be served at Genderfuck. The organizing committee, which is comprised of five student members, says it made this decision with the intent of setting a more relaxed mood and avoiding the issues associated with serving mixed drinks.

“I think there’s a sense among organizers that we can evaluate details like what we serve and what kinds of messages we are sending,” said Josh Hallquist ’14, co-president of the student activities committee and a member of the Genderfuck planning committee. “Students have really been working hard to establish and re-establish student-run safety nets like the sober escort system, the involvement of RAs, and of our alcohol education experts, DART, to create multiple layers of student-led security systems.”

Genderfuck has always been advertised as a safe space for Swarthmore students to experiment with the boundaries of their gender identities, but it also carries all the risks associated with a large Sharples party. In the past, administrators have raised safety concerns, even questioning the validity of holding the event.

This year, the administration took a more active role in helping to plan Genderfuck. The planning effort involved the Drug and Alcohol Resource Team, including Drug and Alcohol Educator Joshua Ellow and Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention team, including Violence Prevention Educator and Advocate Nina Harris.

At the request of the Social Affairs Committee, DART members, who serve year-round as peer resources for information on the responsible use of drugs and alcohol, will be bartending the party. Before the event, DART members serving alcohol at Genderfuck will also become certified in Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS), a bartending course. TIPS offers strategies for determining when partygoers are dangerously drunk and effective ways to cut people off. In addition, DART may host a workshop for Swarthmore students who will be bringing extra guests to Genderfuck to try to encourage them to drink responsibly.

“[Serving wine] is probably good because it’s really easy to give the exact amount, four ounces,” said Sam Reichard ’15, a member of DART. “In that aspect, it’s safer. If you make a mixed drink, it’s really easy to get the proportions wrong.”

However, she also expressed concern that narrowing the selection of drinks served could have its own consequences.

“It might prompt people to get drunk before they come,” she said. “They might not drink so much while they’re there and just have a heavy pregame beforehand.”

The effort to ensure the safety of all those attending Genderfuck has involved many different student groups and administrators. Ellow and Harris have acted as liaisons to DART and ASAP, respectively. Student Activities Director Mike Elias has been working closely with student organizers from the Genderfuck planning committee and with SwatTeam. Swarthmore Queer Union, while not affiliated with Genderfuck, is helping the planning committee to promote it as an event focused on gender issues, not just a wild party. Public Safety will attend a joint meeting with the event organizers under the auspices of Elias on Friday, April 18.

One initiative being led by the organizing committee is the presence of sober escorts. These students will keep an eye out for partygoers as Genderfuck is going on and will be able to walk inebriated guests safely back to their dorm rooms. Escorting of this kind has been implemented before, but this year the escorts will be logging their trips for the first time. This is a response to worries raised in previous years by students who could not remember how they arrived home.

“In short, we’re paying more attention to our blind spots by enlisting the involvement of more students and drawing upon their skills,” said Hallquist. “A functional relationship between all of these groups of students shows, I think, the resilience of our community and how we can rebuild ties.”

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