Last Friday, the Social Affairs Committee sent out a student body-wide email about this year’s Halloween party. The email explained two major changes to the party from last year: moving the party from Sharples to Clothier and the creation of a bring-your-own-beverage “beer/wine garden” for students over 21. Other changes included the expansion of the guest program from 100 slots open to Tri-Co students to 150 slots that are open to any guest under 24 and the establishment of a midnight costume contest. The email also explicitly stated that Swat Team members and public safety officers will be operating inside the event, a fact that the student body was not aware of until the night of the party last year. “A small group of SwatTeam, SAC members, Public Safety officers, and Office of Student Engagement staff … will be mingling in and around the event, ensuring safety and fun for all Swarthmore students attending and their guests,” read the SAC email.
A SAC representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the rationale behind the change of venues was as a matter of convenience, quality and expense. First and foremost, she explained, parties in Sharples are expensive. Crews need to be hired to move furniture in and out of Sharples, and EVS cleanup is more intensive than normal to meet sanitary standards after the party. The total cost comes out to between $3,000 and 3,500. Until recently, SAC thought that Clothier Hall was a dry space, but Mike Elias, assistant director of student activities, found that no document actually designated it as such.
The SAC representative thinks that, while Clothier Hall provides less square footage than Sharples, it offers more overall in its diversity of types of spaces. Paces offers an alternative dance space to Upper Tarble, with a potential for different music or mood. The game room allows people to exit the dance floor and take a breather in a well-lit indoor space. Hosting the party in Clothier Hall also allows the SAC committee to more easily section off the 21-and-up portion of the event. They will enter through a separate entrance by the bell tower and will be able to store and consume alcohol in the Essie Mae’s dining space. The SAC representative hopes that this system will be a less artificial and imposing way of separating the 21-and-older section than last year’s physical barriers. The BYOB process will remedy the issues that have come up when student bartenders are asked to refuse service to their friends.
“I like the change of location. Sharples is kind of a really big space and it’s hard to fill it up … I like that they’re being transparent with us this year about the alcohol policies, so you know what to expect as opposed to last year,” said Vinita Davey ’17.
She was more critical of the changes to the alcohol policy, which limits the quantity of alcohol students may bring in.
“I still think that Swat’s alcohol policy in general needs to be revised because if this year is going to be anything like last year, people are going to be chugging entire bottles of hard liquor before they show up,” she said.
With the 2012 Childish Gambino concert in Upper Tarble still in recent memory, there are concerns about the new space that are entirely unrelated to the alcohol policies. Childish Gambino had to end his show early when a combination of student dancing and heavy equipment caused fears that Upper Tarble’s wooden support structure was in danger.
“Facilities, OSE, and PubSafe have worked hard to ensure that the space will be secured properly throughout the entirety of the event and that capacity levels can support the amount of students entering the venue throughout the night,” wrote Elias in an email. “Lighting, audio equipment and DJs will be stationed on the concrete bleachers so that all equipment (and weight of it) will be supported by the concrete structure below — a significant change from the LSE set-up in the past.”
The SAC representative also said that ropes with lights would be strung up in front of the open balcony spaces in Upper Tarble to make them more visible and safer. These ropes will be monitored by Public Safety and Swat Team members.
“Although both venues — Sharples and Clothier — present logistical challenges, all parties involved in the discussion thought that it would not only enhance the social atmosphere of the space, but it would also make pre- and post-event set-up and breakdown much more streamlined,” said Elias. “It is important to emphasize that the change of venue is not permanent. Students need to provide feedback to StuGo, SAC, and/or the OSE in the upcoming weeks so we can determine if the change of venue was something that enhanced the social atmosphere of the party.”