Director of OSE Rachel Head: Response to “Regulating Fun at Swarthmore”

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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.

Dear Students,

Information tends to travel quite quickly at Swarthmore and information that isn’t accurate tends to circulate even faster. For example, there has been some recent confusion about when social events can be hosted in the residence halls and I would like to take this opportunity to clarify what happened and then propose some ways to move forward.

There have not been any recent policy changes to student lounge spaces in the residence halls related to timing of events and/or when a space can be reserved. The policy continues to be that on Thursday nights, events in the residence halls must end by 12 a.m. but Friday and Saturday nights events may run until 2 a.m. There is one exception to this rule, and it relates to the new Danawell building. The new Danawell connector is open until midnight on ALL evenings; this decision was made by the student leaders in that community when it opened August 2015.

Last week, a member of the OSE staff held three party host trainings. At the first training a staff member mistakenly stated that dorm programming must end by midnight on all nights. The staff member realized and corrected their error after the first training but unfortunately the incorrect information began to circulate widely creating concern amongst students.

I know that the author of the Op-Ed “Regulating Fun At Swarthmore” from February 5, 2016 mentioned several items of concern, not just the 12 a.m. rule. I would like to take a few moments to share my thoughts on the role the OSE can play in partnering with students to address those issues and concerns.

The OSE, and the Dean’s Division, exist to help support your student experience. We are here to help make sure that multiple voices are being heard, and to help students think through potential obstacles to their ideas.

Student feedback drives our initiatives and programmatic efforts. Student initiated programming is what works at Swarthmore and insures that the social life reflects the interests and creativity of the student body. The OSE has a number of internal groups that provide advice to our office, including the Resident Assistants, the Diversity Peer Advisors, the OSE Interns, the OSE house-sitters, and the Housing Committee. In addition we are continually reaching out to other groups on campus for guidance, feedback, and great ideas. We’ve also worked hard over the last few years to try to streamline processes related to reserving space and finding funding for programming, partnering closely with SBC to try to make it easier for students to host a variety of events and parties.

The DG op-ed, though, reminded us that not everyone feels like they know where, when, or how they can give feedback. Even worse, the letter shared that students do not always feel heard when they do try to give feedback. I am committed to figure out a way to address that issue. We are currently seeking student feedback on a variety of issues including but not limited to:

  • Diversity Peer Advisor Program
  • First-Year Residential Communities
  • New PPR Building (construction, design, and implementation)
  • Orientation
  • Party Permit/Party Registration Procedures
  • Substance-Free Programming and Housing
  • Sophomore Housing Selection/Updates
  • Student Parking Rules, Regulations, and Application Process
  • Summer Housing Dates and Amenities
  • Sustainability in the Residence Halls

So, where do we go from here? We would like to invite you to drop by and get to know the Office of Student Engagement in the basement of Parrish, and to come share your thoughts (on any of the above or anything I did not list). Throughout the semester, we will host more formal ways for students to share their idea and ask questions. In anticipation of that and to get the ball rolling, I would encourage any student who has an outstanding concern or is even just curious about what we do, to please come meet us and say hello. Our office is located in the Lower Level of Parrish, Room 076 — directly below the College mail room. You can also stop by to set up an appointment to meet individually with a member of the OSE Staff (Rachel Head, Isaiah Thomas, Karina Beras, Heather Loring-Albright, Ben Wilson, Kyle Miller, and Carl Starkey). We are always willing to listen and work with you, and invite you to get to know us.

Take care,

Rachel Head

Assistant Dean & Director of Student Engagement


Featured image courtesy of swarthmore.edu

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