Here Comes State Patty’s Day
A week from tomorrow, thousands of Penn State students (and more than a few alumni) will celebrate what has become the University’s newest — and most controversial — tradition: State Patty’s Day. Started by students a few years ago as a sort of replacement holiday after St. Patrick’s Day fell during Penn State’s spring break, “State” Patty’s Day has quickly evolved into a raucous and popular holiday of its own. But its popularity is hardly universal.
As a Penn State alum, I can understand the sense of pride in an event that’s exclusive to your school — in that, State Patty’s Day is similar to THON or the Beaver Stadium student section, something students at other colleges can envy. Where State Patty’s Day differs, of course, is the impact it has on the community, and as a taxpayer and father of young children, I’m not a fan of the costs — in terms of property crimes and extra police and emergency workers — or the spike in arrests and ER trips associated with what is, for many, nothing more than an excuse for a green-clad, day-long drinking binge.
Lately, the controversy has generated a lot of discussion — and maybe even some action. The University Park Undergraduate Association has joined other student groups in promoting a “Safe and Responsible Actions” pledge to encourage safer, smarter partying on State Patty’s Day. Some are going further: Dennis Shea, the head of the health policy and administration department in the College of Health & Human Development, is calling on fellow faculty to work toward stopping the event altogether. He told the Daily Collegian about one local resident whose church postponed a fundraising event scheduled for State Patty’s Day because its members were afraid to go downtown.
Inevitably, the conversation is active online — there are competing Facebook groups for and against State Patty’s Day. If nothing else, I hope the discussion helps temper the worst aspects of what is, for better or worse, a very visible part of Penn State student life.
Ryan Jones, senior editor