On January 28, the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) in collaboration with the Student Government Organization (SGO) hosted Swarthmore’s Winter Formal. The event took place at the Inn at Swarthmore’s Ballroom from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The OSE took advantage of Winter Break to carefully craft winter themed events to welcome Swarthmore students into the spring semester. The formal wrapped up the week-long array of events, including DIY Snow Globes (1/23), Instagram Swag Giveaway (1/24), Donuts & Coffee (1/25), Hot Chocolate Bar & Mug Painting (1/26), and the Spring Activities Fair (1/27).
Last year’s formal, known as Swat Prom, was planned by the SGO and hosted by OSE. This year, both organizations have collaborated to coordinate a similarly large-scale event.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Senior Class President and Executive Chair of Student Life, Katee Kemether ’23 shared information about the planning process.
“The planning process began as a conversation with OSE just under two months ago. Like any large-scale event planning, it has involved many meetings back and forth between SGO and OSE and emails exchanged between vendors and campus safety staff,” she stated.
Unlike Swat Prom which took place on the third floor of the Matchbox, this year’s formal took place in a new location: the Inn at Swarthmore. Kemether commented on a few aspects of the Inn that students can look forward to.
“This dance will be at the Swarthmore Inn, which is different from past years, so I look forward to having a really beautiful venue. The Inn is also catering, and they have great beverages, hors d’oeuvres, a taco bar, and desserts!” said Kemether.
The location is a standout for the formal, because the dance has historically been hosted in venues on Swarthmore’s campus, such as Paces and Old Tarble.
In addition to catering by the Inn, the formal also featured a professional DJ and a bar for students 21 and up, with proof of state-issued identification.
In an interview with The Phoenix, Rebecca Weintraub-Barth, Director of Student Activities and Leadership, explained the backstory for the prom theme this year.
“The event has previously had themes of a Harry Potter Yule Ball to Casino Night. This year, SGO wanted to find a location that felt a little special and to replicate a prom that so many students missed out on because of COVID,” said Weintraub-Barth.
Jennifer Placido Rosas ’26 shared her thoughts about the event and why she was excited to attend.
“I am very excited about the Winter Formal. I would like to partake in this tradition as a first-year student. I think it’s a great opportunity to go all out with friends and have a fun time,” she stated.
There is a big tradition surrounding the formal and its prevalence on campus throughout the years. Placido Rosas was especially looking forward to the opportunity the Winter Formal presents for students to spend time together.
“[The formal will] give students something to look forward to after Winter Break. Also, it is something that [will] bring people together on campus. It can bring joy in the middle of the dark, cold wintertime,” said Placido Rosas.
The Winter Formal was a memorable event for many members of Swarthmore’s student body. However, students such as Ruthie Njagi ’25 shared critiques about the event’s setup.
“The Swarthmore Inn was an okay venue, but it felt a little small. I also think the theme could have been incorporated better. They also could have had a Photo Booth, similar to the Intercultural Center Masquerade Ball last semester.”
Aaron Thammavongxay ’25 shared similar sentiments about the venue size and the energy throughout the night.
“It [the Winter Formal] definitely was a change from last year’s formal. The space itself was bigger, but somehow felt more constricted. I felt a lot of the above 21 students stayed in the bar area, while the under 21 students stayed in the dance area. I felt the vibes were a little strange, though I’m not quite sure how to explain it,” said Thammavongxay.
The efforts put forth by the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) and the Student Government Organization (SGO) were noticed by the attendees of the Winter Formal. While there may be room for improvement regarding the venue and theme, the event marked a pleasant start to the spring semester.