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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration


CATA Buses: A Key to Cutting Back DUIs

We all know that close to $500,000 is wasted every year on an ineffective program called Late Night Penn State. Instead of subsidizing the cost of pizza, hot dogs and board games, we subsidize the Centre Area Transportation Authority, or CATA, to offer buses until 4am on Thursday thru Saturday?

The drinking culture of Penn State is back under the microscope thanks to State Patty’s Day. This issue being put in the limelight isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it is now time to push for safe solutions.

Fact: Penn State has an extremely high number of DUI and underage citations on even typical weekends.

Penn State’s Solution to Date: Give the students fun and games in the form of Late Night Penn State so we can say we are “addressing” dangerous drinking. On special occasions, we will even team up with Milton Bradley to have the latest version of Monopoly.

The Needed Solution: Effective transportation methods so that Johnny 19 year old doesn’t have to walk 20 minutes back to East Halls in an inebriated state. Further, this will cut back on DUIs by allowing Michael Downtown to jump on a bus home rather than in the driver seat.

Ideas for safe solutions have been proposed before, including the “865-WALK” program developed by the now defunct Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and “Safe Ride.” 865-WALK, though has a failure that is underutilized and and understaffed. Since being taken over by paid administrators and staff persons after the demise of the USG, 865-WALK has floundered due to a lack of student control and peer-to-peer influence.

In many administrators’ eyes, offering safe choices to those who drink, is “promoting drinking.” Look; it’s 2008, prohibition ended nearly a century years ago. People drink.

The number of DUIs has exploded over the past ten years and underage citations have become a right of passage. It’s time to stop throwing Student Activity Fee (SAF) dollars at Late Night and lend support to CATA buses in the later hours.

Students do not attend Late Night, nor have they for some time. When the highlight of the late night experience is that they offer the green ketchup instead of the red, it isn’t worth anyone’s time. Efforts need to be moved off campus to ensure the safety and well being of students as well as the State College Borough.

While I am quick to fault the administration, I only fault them here for taking on tasks which rightly belong with independent and self-motivated students. The busing service recently received a 2.9 million dollar increase which they are using elsewhere.

If you use the Martin Street, Waupelani Drive and Vairo Boulevard bus routes you will be reaping the benefits of increased service. However, this should not have been their #1 concern. Regardless of who is to blame, later bus services need to be addressed immediately. We’re not just talking about numbers — we’re talking about lives.

The Earth Shattering Statistics: From 1998-October 2007, there have been 3,307 DUI arrests.

At what point do we stop complaining that a rampant, problematic dangerous consumption culture exists, and instead come to the realization that we need to do more than talk and throw money at our problems.

I would hope that student and borough leaders would unite behind a common-sense solution — this solution benefits us all.

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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.

Comments

So when you say the University should let “independent and self-motivated” students take control of this problem (and I agree, a problem it is indeed), are you referring to students such as yourself at SOS, who organize the largest, most ill-managed excuse to binge drink? You know, State Patty’s Day?

Your passion for student concerns at Penn State is commendable, albeit laughable. Work on developing a nuanced understanding of how bureaucracy and higher education works before you doll out “solutions” as if issues and decisions are dichotomous and occur in a vacuum.

And, later bus service isn’t a bad idea. I agree with you. Unfortunately, you and your organization has shot itself in the foot. You don’t play nice. Therefore, no one with power respects you (including students who have a better understanding of how to effect much needed change). It’s kind of sad, really.

Dear Anonymous Commenter,

As with so many of your type, you assume that Safeguard Old States is merely wishes to acquire power. Our goal is not power or authority over others, but rather to empower the elected student leaders in the UPUA, UPAC and ARHS to better carry out their responsibilities toward students.

Safeguard Old State neither seeks nor needs the approval of the establishment, ie — “people with power.” Love us or hate us, at least we’re trying to make positive changes in the community and we commit our names and reputations to our efforts.

Who knows, though, maybe your “better understanding” will help effect that much needed change. So long as the students and Penn State University win, everyone’s goal is accomplished.

It must be said, both in response to Gavin’s post, as well as Mr. Riiight’s comment, that SOS did not invent State Patty’s Day. The administration did. Now, I’m not sure they knew they were doing it, or that they tried it, but if you take away a tradition (and St. Patrick’s is a rather big ‘tradition’ no matter where you go, so don’t try to explain that one away) students will find a way to replace it. We just happened to be resourceful enough to basically keep the same holiday on a different day. This isn’t the fault of students, it’s the fault of our entire country for embellishing such an excuse to create a mass consumerism frenzy out of a “holiday” that the irish actually celebrate as a religious day. To them it’s not a day to go get hammered, it’s a day of feasting.

So don’t blame this on SOS. SOS did everything it could to include everyone, and to curb alcohol related crime; which by the way it did, as DUI’s decreased 15% from last year, and a considerable amount of the “arrests” were attributed to snowball fights. So really, let’s please address this as adults. State Patty’s Day was no worse than those other University sanctioned days like Blue and White weekend, or Homecoming, or Arts Fest (you know….those 3 days where they bring in helicopters and mounted police). State Patty’s Day should be a day of pride to say, yes everyone else celebrates this day, but we do it our own special way. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s done responsibly, which is what SOS strove to provide. Had we not be stonewalled it might have even been more successful than it was.

And let us not overlook the fact that a good portion of State College DUI’s are caused by non-students. There are plenty of Alumni and residents that get these as well, but the breakdown is never actually posted, since that would completely skew the biased statistics back to where they should be. When you show me a weekend when every single DUI and arrest is a drunk student I will not only take back everything I’ve said, but I will bite my tongue for life.

So you can believe that I’ll be speaking up in the future, because the probability of that is slim to none.

And who doesn’t respect us? We demand attention. Yes, we may not be the nice guy on the block; we might not be the favored son, but since when did being a Yes-guy get anyone anywhere? If we just let the administration walk over top of us without standing up for ourselves (and I mean us AND our fellow students, not simply the latter) than we will never get anything changed. It is that realization of the truth that allows us to work with administrators, because they know they can’t just push us away from the table and sit us on time out. We are adults, and until we are treated as such maybe our “bad guy approach” is the only thing that will produce results.

And please don’t speak of students with a better understanding of how to effect change. When is the last time you met with Vice President Hurley, or Dr. Latta, or anyone who does anything? When was the last time you led a UPUA presidential platform that actually has a grasp on what really needs to be done to fix student affairs and REAL students’ REAL problems. When is the last time you met with a group of peers that easily know more about the workings of this school than most students and alumni ever could dream to know?

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