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.
As a precursor, I would like to point out some major flaws in this week’s data (I’m sorry, is my Anthropology major showing?):
1. There were only 47 responses
2. Students that do not identify as male or female represent only 6% of the sample
3. There are no men of color represented
4. There are twice as many white respondents as respondents of color
5. There are three times as many female as male respondents
Please keep these biases in mind as you are looking at the findings for this week, especially since harassment and discrimination disproportionately affect people of color and the queer community.
With that in mind, Swat Visually presents our map of where students feel unsafe on campus:
View Unsafe Spaces on Campus in a full screen map
Something I learned from this data was that many students feel unsafe walking around campus, particularly on the walk to PPR, the tunnel to the train station, and on the path from Wharton to Sharples. Since adding a few extra streetlights in these considerably unlit areas could make a huge difference, this is definitely a path (pun intended) the administration should consider.
But now onto the juicier stuff:
Swarthmore’s party scene (if we can be so generous as to call it that) and how safe it is have been frequent subjects of debate on campus. And the data from this week certainly justifies that: out of the 73 locations respondents declared as unsafe, 44 were party spaces. Respondents cited assault, fear of being surrounded by inebriated men, and undesired sexual advances as some of the many factors in their senses of unsafety.
However, when we break down these the party spaces in which students feel uncomfortable, we find that fraternities make up over 80% of them (37 of 44). Students are actually five times more likely to feel unsafe in fraternities than they are in Paces, Olde Club, and Sharples parties combined.
Now, this neither the time nor the space to point fingers or make claims. However, if you frequent these spaces, I implore you to think about these numbers. Are they surprising? Do you feel threatened by them? Have you ever seen something in these spaces that, looking back, you realize could have been a much bigger deal than it seemed at the time? Why might the fraternities be different from other spaces on campus?
Remember, except for the totally valid concerns about Upper Tarble’s structural design (seriously, how did the entire thing not come down during the Halloween party?), spaces are not inherently unsafe. People make them that way.
For next week, Swat Visually is looking at what constitutes a “Swattie,” so definitely submit your response and look out for the results next Friday.