Students’ mixed reactions to the college’s new alcohol policies have been well-documented. Such debate is not the norm at nearby Haverford College, where students generally believe, as a 2009 Bi-College News article put it, that “Haverford’s Alcohol Policy is Better than Everyone Else’s.”
Whereas debates on the best way to handle drinking have been common on Swarthmore’s campus since the beginning of the semester, Haverford has had little trouble of such kind in recent memory. Haverford’s policies differ in many ways from Swarthmore’s, and student support is widespread.
Much of the reason why Haverford’s rules are consistently lauded lies in the fact that students vote on them every year. The policies are controlled, reviewed, and edited by the school’s Joint Student and Administration Alcohol Policy Panel, which then brings a proposal to each year’s Plenary, a student-organized rules convention. The proposal must be approved before it can be enforced.
Student voting on alcohol policy changes is unlike the process at Swarthmore. Although a few students were consulted prior to implementing new rules, some on campus feel that not enough of students’ concerns were taken into consideration. For example, the administration’s decision to ban seniors from raising money through Pub Nite led to significant outrage from students wishing to keep Pub Nite a weekly tradition — and no answers from officials about how to achieve that.
At Haverford, students favor their policies by a large majority.
“We have the full support of the administration and the student body,” said Alexandra Lamacki, co-head of the JSAAPP. She specifically mentioned the annual ratification of drinking rules as a key factor.
“The implementation of the alcohol policy is not completely without problems, but for the most part it is upheld and widely respected by the student body,” Lamacki added.
Haverford student Mike Pavliv, managing editor of the Bi-College News, sees his school’s policies as “laissez-faire.” Students are allowed to drink in any residential house and adjacent areas, and, according to Pavliv, most parties do serve alcohol.
Both Lamacki and Pavliv agree that Haverford campus safety is “very chill” — and they see that as an asset. Safety officials are rarely seeking to punish underage offenders. A student who is sick, or sees a sick student, is encouraged to call campus safety, which then has the responsibility to decide whether to transport the person to the hospital or not. Pavliv believes that Haverford security is less likely to involve itself in parties than security personnel at most colleges.
Pavliv noted a Haverford party last fall in which a person lit a cigarette or joint and set off the smoke alarm. Before local law enforcement arrived as legally mandated, campus safety reached the scene and recommended that all partygoers leave before potentially getting punished by the local police. For Pavliv, that situation is an example of how Haverford safety officers “are very chill regarding intoxication … and never look to punish said students.”
Just this semester, Swarthmore’s Public Safety has had a marked presence on campus, namely at Disorientation. Due to the increased visibility of Public Safety officers on campus, many Swarthmore students have argued that students become motivated to pre-game extensively, rather than trying to drink during parties — a trend that they believe has ramifications for student safety.
The relationship between students and security at Haverford is a key reason why, according to Pavliv, students feel safe notifying campus safety officers.
Pavliv believes strict policies at other colleges have significant repercussions.
“At a school where drinking is virtually forbidden on campus, like Villanova, students escape off-campus, often to Haverford, to drink, and tend to be far more afraid to call for help when situations get out of control,” Pavliv opined.
Lamacki is a full believer in the effectiveness of Haverford’s relatively lax rules.
“Whereas schools around us have had serious issues concerning alcohol on campus including an alcohol related death, Haverford has never had such problems,” she said.
Not everyone sees Haverford’s alcohol policy as being a happy medium. The national organization Students for Safe Drug Policy gave the college’s policies a D. The group noted that Haverford does not have an official alcohol amnesty policy, which relieves sick students and their helpers of formal, serious punishment — a positive new addition to Swarthmore’s policy. Officials believe the new rule will encourage students to seek help whenever necessary.
The SSDP also dinged Haverford for its ambiguous, difficult-to-find sanctions and punishments for breaking school rules, while approving the clarity of Swarthmore’s alcohol policy, which it gave a B.
This is the most recent installment in a series focusing on alcohol and party policies at peer institutions.