Over fall break, several of the Phoenix editors travelled to other colleges and universities to visit our friends. Between the homecoming football games and extra thousands of students at each campus, we knew we weren’t at Swarthmore anymore. On University of Pennsylvania’s campus, students lined up around the quad to purchase the newest, most exclusive Ivy League inspired “P” sweaters. At Pennsylvania State University, boys were turned away from the doors of fraternities because the ratio of female-identifying to male-identifying students was not high enough. As we experienced different facets of student life at these institutions, we all seemed to come to one conclusion by consensus: as much as we may critique the social scene at Swarthmore (and we ought to, if we want to work towards improving it), there are reasons why campus life is the way it is.
Put simply, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Lamenting our “lack of lit parties” is easy enough until we realize that there are trade-offs that other students at other schools make that we as a student body would have to be willing to make as well. We would have to take the party scene itself far more seriously. Here at Swat, a vast majority of students don’t even dress up to loosely fit the themes for certain parties but are still able to walk through the DU entrance freely; at larger schools, girls can’t even attend their own sorority events unless they are decked out in four-inch heels. With our workload, most students would be unwilling to go out more than once or twice each week; larger state schools have students who are somehow able to turn up four or five days of each week. There is a significant amount of time and effort in fostering and maintaining the culture of a party school; are we as Swatties willing to put the work in?
It is perfectly acceptable to admit that we are not willing or able to commit to this undertaking while still searching actively for ways to make our weekends safe, more fun, and welcoming to all. However, we feel that it is important to realize that the distinctions between the social scene here at Swarthmore and at other institutions are the ones we choose for ourselves.
Inclusivity is something we strive for on campus; this is exemplified through the fact that no one is turned away from the door of a fraternity or party space on the weekend due to their gender, sexual orientation, attire, physical appearance, or any characteristic of their companions. While our party scene is lacking in certain respects, especially the lack of physical space for women or members of the queer and trans* community, these are issues that students are actively working to address through groups like NuWave. The Phoenix commends these efforts greatly; we get the social scene we deserve, and we ought to ensure that everyone feels safe enough to enjoy themselves every weekend alongside their peers. We are proud of the spirit of acceptance that our social scene embodies, and we are heartened to see that students want to work to further promote this sense in hopes of a social scene that every student can enjoy and partake in.