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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

State Patty’s Day: PSU Grassroots, Organic Tradition

With State Patty’s Day 2008 just one day away on March 1, there are doubtless many thousand in our community getting set to celebrate this still unique grassroots student tradition for the second year running.

The Catholic Church has moved official celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day to March 15, which falls over our Spring Break this year, as the holy day did last year. We at Safeguard Old State decided to sign on a sponsors of this year’s State Patty’s Day when we were approached about it by Joe Veltre and its other original creators from last year.

The vision was simple: take a student holiday that was organized in a completely grassroots fashion and build upon its original success, but do so in such a way as to promote our bonds as a community here in Happy Valley. State Patty’s Day was always meant to be about more than just enjoying a few beers or the early celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day.

Safeguard Old State is recognizing the student initiative that brought State Patty’s Day to life one year ago, and helping the student community to take ownership of something and build it from the ground up by ourselves — even as the administration has created an environment of total opposition to our efforts to use this as a community event and education event.

The ingenuity and initiative of students taking action for all students, and without top down guidance from administrators is something to be commended. Further, that the event was intended to make real the vision of responsible drinking — celebration in a community atmosphere among friends, makes it even more noteworthy.

Still, Safeguard Old State is disappointed that Penn State University Health Services and the “Campus & Community United Against Dangerous Drinking Partnership” run by Vice President Bill Mahon refused to help create non-alcohol alternatives. That both groups actively opposed the idea of State Patty’s Day — that drinking and responsibility could go hand in hand, unfortunately expose the real motives of these administrators at Penn State.

Officials at Penn State, Bill Mahon included, are happy to pay lip service to the idea of finding new ways to combat dangerous drinking, but when it comes to real proposals to implement such ideas — proposals like State Patty’s Day — the grassroots organizers are derided, maligned and called “disrespectful.” Their real motives are not to eliminate dangerous drinking, but to eradicate drinking. Period.

Safeguard Old State came with open arms to administration officials to find ways to create an organic, real environment of responsible alcohol enjoyment, and the administration reacted by slinging mud in our faces. Their attempts to impose top-down control over the student climate in Happy Valley are and will always be doomed to fail.

Alcohol has been a part of human celebrations dating back millenia, and that trend will not be reversed in Central Pennsylvania by overzealous administrators. If they really want what they say they want — more responsible drinking, and a more united student and town community — State Patty’s Day was their chance to help us make it happen.

The intrasigence from administrators like Bill Mahon and their student lackeys who run HUB LateNight aside, we at Safeguard Old State still believe in Penn Staters — we believe Penn Staters can and do act with honor, integrity and respect.

State Patty’s Day is our chance as a community to affirm that responsibility and enjoyment can and do go hand in hand at Penn State. Go out, enjoy yourself this State Patty’s Day, and remember: respect this holiday tradition, respect our community and above all, respect yourselves.

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Note: The Safeguard Old State Executive Staff does not moderate the comments posted by the public to blog entries. The comments of Safeguard Old State readers do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Safeguard Old State.


[…] to celebrate this still unique grassroots student tradition for the second year running. … credit : […]

Now I’m going to be 100% honest here, I was a little skeptical of this idea at first but after this weekend, I’m convinced that it’s all but necessary. You’re totally right about the administration wanting nothing to do with drinking unless it has to do with eliminating it completely and that’s pretty pathetic. You’re never going to eradicate drinking at a campus of 40,000+. Simply put, they just need to get real.

All that being said, I was unfortunately on the receiving end of some completely immature, senseless behavior this past weekend by people that were presumably drinking quite a bit (I think that’s a safe assumption)…Without going into details, I ended up in the hospital because when you tell drunk people they’re being idiots (hitting people in the head with snowballs as the walk by), they don’t take the criticism very well. Needless to say, when I was in the hospital, I saw at least a few other people there that were probably victims of similar behavior. I heard the kid next to me had a broken beer bottle thrown at him. Furthermore, when a police officer came to interview me at 5am after I got home from the hospital, he had to write down all this information on a basic notepad because he said he ran out of incident report forms! That says it all right there. Keep in mind, this was Friday night. I didn’t even bother leaving my apartment at all Saturday, the actual State Patty’s Day.

In the end, I’m all for going out and having a good time. I’m not saying drinking is evil and nobody should do it. Tom and SOS bring up the excellent point that people are just don’t know how to do it safely and responsibly and sometimes alternatives are needed. Sure, there will be people that turn a deaf ear to all this, but if this even just reaches a handful of people, I’d say its worth it. This State Patty’s Day thing, while still fun for many and an incredible/impressive display of PSU grassroots power, has probably gone way too far in the drinking category. Alternative activities would be a great idea…maybe I’ll even show up to them next year if they’re up and running. Great piece Tom.

I heard what you had to say leading up to and including today on RadioFree.
Please don’t misunderstand, I believe your intentions are correct but…

The statistics you stated ARE insignificant. 20 less phone calls can easily be a blip or aberration. We’ll have to wait for next year’s numbers to begin to see if it is a trend or not.

It is easy to provide alternative activities. LateNight Penn State has a signup http://www.latenight.psu.edu/eh_signup.shtml
Just because the administration doesn’t throw money at you, can you really just throw your hands up and say ‘well, we tried…’?
Why not talk to the State Theater or any other venue. Would Ted and the HiFi’s turn you down if you told them 200+ students would show up? I think not.

Lastly, the whole room at RadioFree seemed a little too proud at how ‘all these students were able to come together in an organic manner’. Isn’t this just the zeitgeist of the Facebook generation?

It’s all too easy for you to get huge crowds whenever it involves football (ala ticket sale fiasco) or alcohol, but when it comes to real issues of class size, overuse of TA’s instead of professors, tuition, open budget, or especially anti-sweatshop labor resolutions, you can nearly hear crickets. I mean, the anti-sweat group has to play wiffleball on Old Main just to get noticed.

If you’d like an intermediary test of whether Facebook+students+alcohol related event = trouble, make another weekend event on a random Saturday and see if the number of incidents don’t rise.

Still, I am glad you are trying something different. I just think you should be a little more tempered in your reaction.
Keep up the good fight!

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