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.
SwatTeam, now in its second semester at Swarthmore, was formed in the spring of 2014 out of a desire to bolster the Party Associates (PA) program. Since its formation, the SwatTeam has taken on more members than the PA program, with even more members being hired in the last few weeks. This has allowed the program to take on more roles and responsibilities than were possible within the limited scope of the PA program.
PAs were “kind of buffer at the entrance of parties,” said Chris Capron ‘15, a SwatTeam manager. “They didn’t actually have a great impact on making parties safer.”
Whereas PAs were mostly stationed outside of the party, SwatTeam performs several different functions both inside and outside the space. Members in charge of logistics are responsible for remaining at the entrance to the party space to scan IDs and manage other logistics at the entrance. Resource people will move throughout the interor of the party space. Their focus is on watching the goings-on inside, addressing any issues that may come up to make sure that people remain safe. An escort will also be stationed at the exit to the party space to provide safe walks home for any student who requests one. SwatTeam managers oversee the rest of the SwatTeam positions and, unlike the PA managers, are also available on-site as experienced resources to resolve any issues that may occur.
SwatTeam is planning to make more improvements this year, including working with Title IX coordinator Kaaren Williamsen. While there are not yet any concrete plans, Capron said “she seems very eager and very willing to maybe do some workshops with us.” SwatTeam members already receive training on the background of the Clery Act, a federal law requiring US colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around the campus, and about what it means to be a Campus Security Authority (CSA). CSA refers to college employees who are required to report federal crimes to departments like Public Safety.
Though most of their training happens on the ground, according to Capron, there are plans in the works for more formal training. “Personally, I would love it if we got more training,” he said. SwatTeam coordinators have advertised outside bystander intervention programs, which some members have attended, said Capron.
SwatTeam’s roles continue to evolve as college party policies change. Following an incident of sexual misconduct last year involving a student from Bryn Mawr, the policy regarding the swiping of IDs upon entry to a party space was introduced in order to ensure there was a complete guest list. After the recent institution of the new alcohol policy, several other changes have been made. Because hard alcohol is no longer allowed at official college parties, for example, a barkeep is no longer needed to oversee the proper mixing of drinks.
According to Capron, SwatTeam responsibilities regarding drinking games are still in flux. “As far as what I do if I see a funnel,” he said, “probably nothing, unless that I think the funnel is a big problem.”
SwatTeam will no longer be found solely at parties. They are also occasionally asked to usher at events that may require crowd control, such as the Large Scale Event or last year’s controversial Robert George/Cornell West collection.
Ultimately, said Capron, SwatTeam’s goal is to be an accessible resource for students who may not feel comfortable talking to administration about problems that occur during parties. “The goal is that we’re just trying to make people feel safe,” said Capron, “and have student resources they can go to rather than go to Pub Safety or an administrator. Just kind of a friendly face.”