Despite a full-court press by the Office of Student Affairs and VP Damon Sims, it’s looking more and more like downtown tavern owners will not reach a joint agreement to close down all bars on State Patty’s Day. UPUA Vice President Brenden Dooley said that, after meeting with several downtown tavern owners, it appears that at least some bars will remain open on March 1.
“It looks like bars will be doing everything from closing down to staying open,” Dooley said. “There has been no unanimous decision and no broad consensus. There are no plans for a joint agreement at this time.”
Dooley added that nothing has been finalized, although he expects some bars to have higher cover charges and reduced hours or capacity. UPUA leadership has advocated for the last several months, and passed legislation at last night’s meeting, to fight back against last year’s decision to pay the downtown bars $5,000 each to close for the day.
“Whereas, the undergraduate student body at University Park does not support any efforts to offer stipends to local bars in exchange for the cessation of the sale of alcohol,” the resolution reads.
This position is in stark contrast to what VP Sims advocated for last year and left open again this year. Last year, Penn State paid each bar, tavern, and restaurant $5,000 to not serve alcohol on State Patty’s Day. According to Sims, this money came out of excess revenue from the increased use of campus parking decks during previous State Patty’s Days — not tuition, state support, or private gift dollars — although it was, in fact, university money. I asked Sims last semester if he would try to pay the bars to close once again, and although he wouldn’t say anything specific, it’s clear that some form of that offer was on the table again.
“The University is certainly supportive of trying to do all we can once more to bring an end to this troubling event, including some version of last year’s initiative,” Sims said.
No matter what happens, it’s clear the novelty of State Patty’s Day is wearing off. There is palpably less buzz around campus about the event, and there were drastically decreased crime numbers during last year’s festivities. After last year’s relative calmness, it will be interesting to see what this year brings.