The Return of State Patty’s Day
All you need to know about State Patty’s Day can be found at Peoples Nation, the pricy T-shirt shop on College Avenue. The front third of the store features items custom made for the student-organized holiday: Green necklaces with shot glass pendants, green and white feather boas, green sequined oversized leprechaun hats, and shirts with slogans such as “Sorry I’m Not Sorry: State Patty’s Day 2012.”
On Tuesday morning when I stopped by, two female students were waiting as the cashier rang up 20 green pinnies. The total? $290.40.
“They’re for my friends from out of town,” the girl said to her friend as she reached for her credit card. “I’m so excited they’re going to come up. This is going to be the best State Patty’s ever.”
With the context of everything that has occurred at Penn State since November, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this really time for the best State Patty’s Day ever? Beginning Friday, thousands of Penn State students—and thousands of visitors—will descend upon the streets, bars, and apartments of State College to, well, party. “It’s just a giant drinking holiday, not much more,” junior Brittany Smith said. “It’s just an excuse to drink all day long.”
The holiday has grown immensely since its inception in 2007. Last year, State College Police made a record 234 criminal arrests—up from 160 in 2010—and fielded a record 480 calls. Close to 11,000 people have joined a Facebook group titled “Official Facebook Page: State Patty’s Day 2012.” With that kind of momentum, State Patty’s Day 2012 is slated to be bigger than ever—right?
The image of Penn State students has been scrutinized on a national level, particularly after the downtown riots that occurred the night Joe Paterno was relieved of his coaching duties. THON’s success certainly helped repair that image, but wouldn’t a day of drinking and debauchery set students back yet again?
“People have been criticizing students for holding a drinking holiday since it was created,” Smith said. “People are going to continue criticizing students for having a drinking holiday. The scandal is totally unrelated. I don’t even know if students are connecting the two.”
Freshman Kevin McKenna agreed. He said he’s receiving “tons” of emails from his RA encouraging students to be smart over the weekend and follow the rules. And boy, did State College and Penn State officials crack down on rules this year. Students who live in dorms are allowed only one overnight guest. The IFC banned parties at fraternities. A handful of bars announced they would close on Saturday while another handful will close early. “I think in most kids’ minds, we’re just worried about not getting in trouble,” McKenna said. “Yeah, we don’t want to hurt our reputation, but I don’t think we will. From my understanding, most kids who get in trouble are visitors who don’t go here.”
Popular sociology professor Sam Richards recently asked his class: Do the facts that many bars are closing and you can only have one overnight guest curtail your interest in celebrating? The results: 16 percent responded “agree,” 59 percent responded “disagree,” and 24 percent responded “disagree, because I’m not celebrating.”
Do those percentages equal the best State Patty’s ever? We’ll find out Monday morning. If you’ve got an opinion, feel free to post your thoughts below.
Emily Kaplan, intern