It’s official: Worthstock is back.
Worthstock, a beloved Swarthmore tradition, happens during the last Sunday before the finals of the spring semester in which the College hosts a band or artist that plays live music in the Worth courtyard. Usually, food, bounce houses, and other fun activities are provided, and the whole day becomes one last fun event for students to enjoy themselves before sitting down to take their finals.
Worthstock has been one of a few Swarthmore traditions that were paused for the last two years because of COVID-19 restrictions, but this spring semester the College gave SGO the greenlight to start planning for Worthstock.
Katee Kemether ’23, the executive chair of student life, gave The Phoenix a rundown of SGO’s plans for Worthstock and the timeline for preparing for it.
“We recently got the okay from OSE to initiate conversations with people regarding Worthstock and the email went out to assemble the committee,” she said.
Traditionally, Worthstock is planned by a committee composed of two SGO senators, the executive chair of student life, and a group of Swarthmore students that apply and are chosen to serve on the Worthstock committee. The email for students to apply for the Worthstock committee went out the first week of March and had a deadline of March 4. The email detailed that students on the Worthstock committee would participate in the committee planning meetings for Worthstock, create a positive and inclusive vision, help with the artist selection process, and assist with logistics, setup, and cleanup for the weekend.
The email also specified that the Worthstock committee was an unpaid volunteer position.
While Kemether and others are excited to get started planning Worthstock, there is a little apprehension about the timeline and the quickly approaching end of the spring semester.
“We’re a little bit behind right now. My freshman year we got the email about the committee either right before or right after winter break so we’re definitely going to have to get it rolling. We’re trying to jumpstart the school and place a little urgency on the school because the bigger the artist the harder it is to get them in a short amount of time,” she said.
Kemether, the vice president and president of SGO, and the senators that are a part of the Worthstock committee, have a lot of ambitious plans for Worthstock this year that they are trying to get underway.
SGO is hoping to find a little extra money for Worthstock this year that they can add to the exhausting Worthstock budget. The committee plans to put this extra money to good use.
“Ideally we would use the Worthstock budget for one larger artist and then use other money and funding to get local and smaller artists for the second day,” said Kemether.
Kemether added that SGO and the Worthstock planning committee are more than happy to also have student groups play during Worthstock. She said that any student bands could contact her or the Worthstock planning committee about getting time to play.
Ultimately, Kemether noted, they are trying to satisfy as many students as possible with the music selection.
“I don’t think all students will be satisfied with one artist, and I think it would be a shame to only cater to one group of people,” she said.
Students will get a little bit of a say in the big artist that comes to campus. The Worthstock planning committee will compile a list of six artists or bands that they can afford within the Worthstock budget and then send an email to the student body, who can all vote for their top choice. The act that receives the most votes out of the pre-selected list will perform at Worthstock. Since the Worthstock Committee is still being formed, there is uncertainty about when exactly this email will come out. Even so, SGO has started compiling a list of potential artists to see who they can afford to bring to the school.
The other artists that the Worthstock planning committee intends to host with the extra money in the budget will be chosen by the planning committee from local Philadelphia bands.
SGO also plans to make Worthstock a two-day event, which isn’t unheard of in Swarthmore history, and have it run both the last Saturday in April and the first Sunday in May. These two days, SGO hopes, would give students ample time to see multiple artists and enjoy the other Worthstock events.
Kemether added that SGO is planning to have food trucks, bounce houses, and games for students to play in order to make Worthstock fun for everyone.
“I think we’re putting a heavy desire on diversity of music we have, food we include, activities we hold, so maybe if people aren’t listening to music they’re enjoying the food trucks or going to the bouncy house or enjoying time with friends,” said Kemether.
Students who have only experienced Worthstock in 2019 are particularly excited for the chance to have Worthstock this year because of the bad weather that dampened their last one.
“It was miserable our Freshman year,” said Alana Ballagh ‘22. “I’m so excited for Worthstock this year as long as it’s going to be sunny. Worthstock is really the only outdoor event Swarthmore has and the only big live music event so I am excited for that.”
In 2019, students missed out on a lot of Worthstock events because they stayed inside to escape the rain.
Worthstock this year will be the last chance for seniors to pass on Worthstock traditions to those students who have never experienced Worthstock before.
“We have no cultural capital. We need to start passing down these traditions,” said Ballagh.
In the ensuing weeks, SGO and the Worthstock committee will make more information public to the student body about the specificities of Worthstock this year and send out emails about artist selections. But students can rest assured that the beloved Swarthmore tradition is back and hopefully better than ever.
“We just want to make Worthstock one last weekend before finals that people feel like they had fun at after basically not being at school for a year and a half and going to school during a pandemic and having a lot of events be canceled,” said Kemether.
This article was updated on March 18, 2022 to retract quotes due to the fact that consent to use the quotes was not given to the writer.