This weekend Swarthmore’s Phi Psi fraternity threw the year’s first headline party: Disorientation. But this notable event marked more than just the first party this year — it was also the first main event where the new alcohol policies would be put to the test.
Since Phi Psi would be serving beer and wine instead of hard alcohol in compliance with the new policies, many students hosted and participated in pre-games located in a number of the residence halls on campus. An Alice Paul/David Kemp (AP/DK) Resident Advisor (RA) who wished to remain anonymous said, “I think the new alcohol policy means that students are much more likely to drink in the dorms or go in search of alcohol in the dorms before heading out to the parties. We’ve seen an increase in unplanned dorm-based parties, such as the spontaneous AP 1st dance party the first Thursday. These become hard to control, because they don’t have a party permit and therefore are liable to being busted by Public Safety. They also go from being a very manageable size to insanely large in a matter of minutes, due to word of mouth information sharing.” In fact, many of this weekend’s pre-games were located in or around Willets and AP/DK, with students often traveling from dorm to dorm in search of their next alcoholic beverage.
Throughout the evening, Willets was filled with newly forbidden pong tables, party lights, and drinking games. A 2016 and former Willets resident who partook in Willets pre-games this past weekend and wishes to remain anonymous said, “I felt like there were more people [in Willets] and more alcohol too. Last year, the pre-games were smaller: people would pre-game with a couple of people in their room or in the lounge, but last weekend felt like all of Willets was just one giant pre-game.”
Despite students’ belief that binge drinking before parties has increased because of the revised alcohol policy, Liliana Rodriguez, Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development, stated, “The idea that these changes will ‘drive drinking underground’ or increase binge drinking is a popular myth that comes up whenever changes are made. The last decade of research on college campuses and elsewhere has not shown this to be the case. So I disagree with the assertion that there is ‘an increased presence’ of drinking.”
While the administration has been hesitant to admit that the recent policy changes have negatively affected life within the residence halls on campus, several members of the community believe otherwise. In direct disagreement with Rodriguez’s statement, another AP/DK RA who wishes to remain anonymous stated, “Pregames are definitely bigger. There are more people staying in the dorms longer and drinking more because they don’t want to leave with drinks to BYO to a party.”
And with the increased presence of alcohol in residence halls before parties, some students are worried that there will not be dry locations to relax — especially within residence areas. Gillian Geffen ’17 pointed out this issue when she said, “I find it especially problematic for the people who choose not to ‘go out’ and drink on the weekends. The combination of libraries closing early on Friday and Saturday and dorms being filled with students partying, the space for quiet study is even more limited.” How the administration will respond to this concern is yet to be seen.
Despite the lack of hard alcohol present at Phi Psi this weekend, many students attended this annual party — which eventually led to its closure between 12:51-1:26 a.m. early Sunday morning, according to the Public Safety Crime Log. Mike Hill, Director of Public Safety, stated, “Our preliminary numbers from this past weekend indicate that there were more people between Phi Psi and DU than could safely be allowed into those spaces. That many people certainly warranted an extra presence for safety reasons.” Students reported standing in lines to enter the space for up to thirty minutes as members of Swat Team and Public Safety attempted to reduce the number of students within Phi Psi and the surrounding area.
But despite the lines, several students report being frustrated that brothers and their guests were let in while other TriCo students were refused entrance. Ian Lukaszewicz, president of Phi Psi, stated, “I was outside for a pretty good amount of time while the house was shut down and for the most part, if you had already been in the house at that point, Public Safety allowed you back in. I, the Party Host, [also] need brothers to be able to get back into the house after they have exited.”
Additionally, Public Safety reported only two incidents that involved drinking throughout the night — one of which involved a “belligerent intoxicated student” transported to the hospital and subsequently charged by the Swarthmore Borough Police Department.
When asked how the administration will prevent students from endangering themselves in the future, Rodriguez answered the question with another question when she stated, “How will the student community help one another not endanger themselves during these binges? When students are providing the hard liquor for one another, are they also providing the support and oversight? Students need to be more thoughtful about the decisions they are making.”
With the increased presence of drinking in dorms in addition to the administration’s hope to keep students safe going forward, some assumed the RAs would take on a stronger policing role. But Rodriguez notes that RAs will not be asked to take on a policing role for the new alcohol policies because the College “believes this should be a community effort.” She further states, “They are not hired to babysit binge-drinkers.”
Featured Photo courtesy of Bozeman Daily Chronicle