SwatTeam Leadership Statement: End Fraternity Violence

We, Moniher Deb, Rose Ridder, Najla Nassar, Eleanor Ghanbari, Stewart Silver, and Samuel Sheppard, the members of SwatTeam Leadership, would like to reach out to the Swarthmore community to address our role at events, including fraternity parties, in light of recent reporting about various violations of student safety committed by the fraternities. These complaints include violations of student safety related to sexual assaults as well as blatant racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, classist, and transphobic content.

SwatTeam Leadership cannot, in good conscience, staff a fraternity party while these cycles of violence are ongoing. We call for Swarthmore College to immediately and permanently revoke the fraternity leases. SwatTeam Leadership refuses to staff any fraternity party while the fraternities and their members still hold positions of power, especially in owning their own premises. Staffing will not resume until demonstrable changes are made.

SwatTeam’s role:

SwatTeam is a student-led organization employed by the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) that promotes student safety at all public campus events where alcohol is being served. These events include PubNite, fraternity parties, and other publicly registered and large-scale events such as Halloween and Winter Formal. Our commitment to student safety includes checking in both Swarthmore students and non-Swarthmore guests, preventing the distribution of hard alcohol, preventing smoking/vaping indoors, and monitoring general levels of intoxication/substance use. We will intervene when we become aware of non-consensual interactions, including any form of violence, harassment, assault, hazing, abuse of substances, or any instance where there is a lack of or inability to consent. Our presence at any event demonstrates our commitment to student safety, not our promotion of any given event or hosting organization.

Addressing violations of safety:

SwatTeam Leadership has read the leaked Phi Psi Historical Archives, the anonymous personal accounts of harm from current Swarthmore students on Tumblr, and campus publications regarding these documents. The violations of student safety depicted in these documents are abhorrent and must be addressed with direct and immediate action. Racism, homophobia, sexual violence, and harassment are not tolerated by SwatTeam and we will not allow these violations of student safety to be perpetuated and continued by the fraternities. We condemn the violations of student safety and we believe survivors who have shared their truths.

We are actively monitoring the swatfraternities Tumblr feed, and take each reference to SwatTeam’s actions as an opportunity to improve future responses to such incidents. We have noted two Tumblr posts (links provided below) that directly address SwatTeam responses. One incident addresses a physical altercation that occurred, and the other includes the distribution of hard alcohol by fraternity brothers.

We had no prior knowledge of these specific events and we want to address them immediately. If you have any further information and specifics (names, dates, locations) about these or other situations, we invite you to submit an official Swarthmore Incident Report using this form:

https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?SwarthmoreCollege&layout_id=1

For SwatTeam specific feedback or comments, we will be in communication with the entire campus community in the coming weeks with opportunities to provide feedback and suggestions on how we can best support safety and community.

We are aware that SwatTeam’s responses to situations may not always be explicit or observable to all party attendees. We take these situations very seriously and work to address them in as timely a manner as possible while ensuring the immediate safety of party guests and following college policies to ensure issues are reported.

Addressing Phi Psi’s response:

We are more than happy to address safety issues and work with fraternity members to improve safety conditions. However, Phi Psi’s statement to Voices stating that the process of joining the fraternity consists of “SwatTeam training” is false. This school year, only one Phi Psi brother completed the SwatTeam training requirement, and historically, we have documentation of fewer than five current brothers who have completed SwatTeam training.

“Our process for joining the fraternity consists of Title IX training, mindfulness training with Josh Ellow, bystander intervention and masculinity workshops, and requirements to become host trained and Swat Team trained. We go above and beyond the basic community education that the average Swarthmore student receives because we are fully aware of our heightened responsibilities.”

The statement “we are fully aware of our heightened responsibilities” concerns us because Phi Psi brothers are not always as helpful or responsible as they imply, which interferes with our ability to do our jobs. We have occasionally observed Phi Psi party hosts drinking while being responsible for other students’ safety in their role as party hosts. Many Phi Psi members have indeed been host trained, but if brothers are intoxicated while hosting, this training is useless. Additionally, in a recent group meeting with the entirety of Phi Psi, brothers deflected some of the responsibilities detailed in  Phi Psi’s Event Management Plan onto SwatTeam, when we explicitly do not have those responsibilities. To state they are “fully aware of [their] heightened responsibilities” while also claiming that their outlined responsibilities are not their own and shunning their host responsibilities is misleading, to say the least.

At any party, SwatTeam works closely with hosts to promote a safer, more inclusive space. We cannot adequately serve the community without Phi Psi brothers' cooperation and active engagement, and we encourage all hosts to engage in opportunities to be better prepared for the responsibilities of hosting and being responsible community members.

Course of action:
SwatTeam Leadership cannot in good conscience staff a fraternity party while these cycles of violence continue. Therefore SwatTeam will not staff any fraternity party for the remainder of this year or until demonstrable changes are made.

In the meantime, SwatTeam will continue to improve staffing and responses. Many are responses which are already in place, but we feel it is important to reemphasize and improve them in light of additional events and information. We will continue to:

  • Increase SwatTeam vigilance in less-traveled areas and around the perimeter of parties - outdoor areas, hallways, etc.

  • Increase expectations for timely reporting to ensure that information is appropriately documented for administrative follow-up, including requiring members to immediately alert managers via text in writing of any reports of misconduct

  • Hold additional trainings in the coming year to further emphasize responses to Title IX and Clery Act responsibilities, student reports, and more assertive bystander intervention training to mitigate problematic party behaviors

  • Host an annual presentation about SwatTeam’s responsibilities at First Year Orientation

  • Reemphasize attentiveness and vigilance throughout parties, as per our current policy

  • Introduce a feedback system for campus to constructively make recommendations on the performance of SwatTeam at events

SwatTeam Leadership echoes the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence call to action. As students given the responsibility for student safety, we must revoke the protections and privileges enjoyed by the fraternities with their continued leases. To voice your support in making the College safer, please submit a letter to the College calling them to revoke fraternity leases.  We cannot condone the normalization of predatory behavior, or the exclusivity and administrative protection that is afforded to Swarthmore Fraternities and their brothers.

If you would like to report any incident you have experienced on or off campus, please feel empowered to submit an official Swarthmore Incident Report using the following form:

https://cm.maxient.com/reportingform.php?SwarthmoreCollege&layout_id=1

For SwatTeam-specific concerns or comments, we are actively determining how best to receive your suggestions and we will be in contact with the student body in the coming weeks with more information.

Important resources for support may be found at:

https://www.swarthmore.edu/share/resources-support

https://swatfraternities.tumblr.com/resourcelist

Phi Psi Historical Archive Full Link:

https://voices.swarthmore.edu/content-1/2019/4/17/phi-psi-historical-archives-leaked-amidst-campus-tensions-around-fraternities-86plg

Tumblr Full Links:

https://swatfraternities.tumblr.com

https://swatfraternities.tumblr.com/post/184021923925/i-was-dancing-with-my-girlfriend-at-a-frat-party

https://swatfraternities.tumblr.com/post/183907375735/frat-brothers-handed-underage-girls-hard-alcohol

Terminate Fraternity Leases Full Link:

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/swarthmore-terminate-the-frat-leases-immediately?fbclid=IwAR3bhUkIWGDsEYV1Wu7ME-masWzSU7RGGIIibFbFkEtFWBw2oqxWetJHrvQ