UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State Interfraternity Council voted recently to ban social functions during the 2014 State Patty’s Day weekend slated for March 1. State Patty’s Day is a student-organized drinking event that town and University officials have been trying to curb since its creation in 2007.
“The Interfraternity Council presidents realized the black eye that this day causes for the community and wanted to continue to be leaders in helping to end the excessive damage and drinking that happens,” said Chip Ray, outgoing IFC president.
In an effort to limit destructive activities during the student-manufactured day of drinking, Greek-lettered organizations at Penn State will not host events involving alcohol from noon Friday, Feb. 28, to 2 a.m. Sunday, March 2.
“The IFC has worked closely with the University, the State College Borough and the State College Police in the past several years and hopes to continue the collaborative efforts,” Ray said. “We hope that other students will choose not to participate in alcohol-related events on this day and join us in our efforts to end this destructive event.”
The IFC’s effort is part of several student initiatives focused on discouraging participation in the event. Law enforcement officials reported a 37 percent decrease in arrests and citationsduring State Patty’s Day 2013. Last year, town and gown officials, as well as student leaders, implemented a number of tactics aimed at creating an unfriendly atmosphere for State Patty’s Day in an effort to dampen the day’s popularity among students and out-of-town visitors, including a pledge from the IFC to ban parties on Saturday of State Patty’s Day weekend. In addition, students living in residence halls were limited to one guest per room for the weekend, borough police asked local landlords and apartment complexes to tamp down or monitor the number of parties in their buildings; additional law enforcement was on the streets; parking in the borough was restructured to dissuade overnight parking; and a large number of alternative social activities were offered.
Members of the Student Alcohol Advisory Committee this year have met twice with representatives from the Tavern Association of State College to discuss ways that downtown establishments can again help. Last year, owners of 34 establishments agreed to neither serve nor sell alcohol for a day in exchange for a subsidy drawn from parking revenues produced on campus during previous State Patty’s Day weekends.
Also, the University Park Undergraduate Association is joining with other student organizations to draft a letter to retailers discouraging the sale of attire promoting the event. Plans also are under way for the State Day of Service, a daylong community service initiative for students; 18 locations for volunteer projects have already been scheduled for March 1 with more to be added before State Patty’s Day.
Earlier this month, the State Patty’s Day Task Force, a collaboration between State College Borough and Penn State, held its first brainstorming session on actions that might be taken to continue to weaken State Patty’s Day.
“The downside of State Patty’s Day so overwhelms any perceived up side that we hope to bring the event to an end next year,” said Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs and co-chairman of the Task Force. “Ideally, the town and the University would like to replace this destructive drinking event with a festival everyone could enjoy and which would not pose the same risks created by State Patty’s Day. Our students clearly are leading that cause.”