Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
When I signed up to do sober ground control for Genderfuck, it was because I was excited about the goals of this year’s planning committee and I wanted to help. What I didn’t know was that it would be the best party ever and that I would learn what community accountability really meant. On Saturday night, having the time of my life and wearing a shirt that ironically said “Fun Police” were not mutually exclusive. I wandered around meeting friends, dancing with friends, and chatting with friends just like at any other party. The differences were as follows, and they are things that I have never done at a party:
1) When I saw a piece of trash that someone might trip on, I picked it up.
2) When someone lost their cell phone on the dance floor, I helped them look for it.
3) When a person was passed out on the floor, I got help and made sure they were okay.
4) When I saw someone looking sad and/or hanging out alone on the fringes of the party, I stopped and asked them how their night was going.
5) When a friend was scared that the police were nearby, and other friends told them not to worry and to keep dancing, I went upstairs with my friend and my roommate and the three of us talked it out over some cheese puffs.
6) When I saw a person crying and pulling away as another person tried to lead them out, I stepped in and asked if everything was okay.
This is community accountability. It’s caring enough about your campus and the people around you to put in that little extra effort. And it’s knowing that if you are having a problem, someone else will be there to help you out, even if you have never spoken to each other. I can’t say how much any of my particular actions helped, but I felt actively engaged with the community around me and I know there were others who felt the same. It’s not about a few individuals in stenciled shirts trying to be heroes. It’s about a community coming together and caring for each other. It’s an exchange in which everyone can benefit and parties can be the fun, safe places that we all want them to be.
Next time I go to a party, I won’t need to be wearing a special shirt to feel comfortable helping someone out. And that’s empowering.
Thank you to everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to experience community accountability and throwing a (gender)fucking awesome party.