The Daily Collegian ran a scathing attack earlier this week on State Patty’s Day, a student-created tradition which has provided an alternative spring celebration for the past three years. Since that time, tens of thousands of Penn Staters have participated in the holiday, joining Facebook groups and buying t-shirts to show their pride.
State Patty’s Day is a student holiday — it’s not managed top down other than a few students picking a date. Safeguard Old State’s “sponsorship” is little more than for morale — to show someone believes in the idea of a student holiday that specifically involves drinking that is, at the same time, not catastrophic.
State Patty’s Day took on a life of its own after the first year; it’s not something that can be controlled or regulated because the entire student body and many alumni take part in it in an organic way — they just show up downtown.
So many people coming together — even if it is to drink — is pretty remarkable at a University where so many (The Daily Collegian included) bemoan mass apathy and dis-engagement.
(This is not even to get into the fact that State Patty’s Day — roundly derided by The Daily Collegian, our mayor and administrators — causes three time less the volume of crime than Blue-White weekend, which is universally beloved, and rightly so.)
If The Daily Collegian and administrators, faculty and all the stakeholders at Penn State are serious about real responsible drinking, you would think they would have the intellectual courage and consistency to admit that responsible drinking by definition will have to involve drinking. Will State Patty’s Day lead a new revolution in real, moderate, responsible adult consumption in Happy Valley?
I don’t know, but it’s certainly got a better shot than The Daily Collegian’s suggestion to “just ignore” drinking. As it anyone at the newspaper even believes that. I’ve spent time at bars — the Phyrst, Pickles, Rathskeller and others — with reporters and editors from The Daily Collegian in the past, and I’ll bet I’ll see at least a few of them downtown on Feb. 28.
The bottom line: it’s easy to sit back, criticize and condemn. It’s much more difficult to try, to offer an alternative to the failed “Late Night,” board games mentality that pretends to address dangerous drinking. If we want people to stop drinking dangerously, we have to teach them and training ourselves in health drinking — that’s the potential of State Patty’s Day.
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