Penn State is Offering to Pay Bars to Close Again on State Patty’s Day

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For the second straight year, Penn State is offering to pay downtown bars to close on State Patty’s Day. A university paying a private, off-campus drinking establishment to close its doors to students of legal age is likely unprecedented, but it has been part of Student Affairs VP Damon Sims’ plan to curtain the drinking holiday since last year.

Penn State Spokesman Bill Zimmerman confirmed to StateCollege.com that Penn State has extended even more money to downtown bars to close their doors to students this year than last year. A four-tier compensation system will be offered to individual bars based on occupancy levels instead of the $5,000 flat rate offered last year.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Businesses with occupancy of 350: $7,500
  • Businesses with occupancy from 200-349: $6,000
  • Businesses with occupancy from 100-249: $5,000
  • Businesses with occupancy levels less than 100: $2,500.

“This new arrangement takes into account the diverse business models of the establishments, and we look forward to hearing from those business owners who will join us in making downtown safer,” Zimmerman said to SC.com.

The offer will be valid for the 24-hour period on March 1. Penn State will extend the terms of the offer to downtown bars this week, although despite its best efforts, bar closures certainly won’t come as easy as last year. Members of the Tavern Association have confirmed to Onward State that there will not be a group decision this year to take Penn State’s money, and that some bars will still remain open to serve students. Last year, Penn State and VP Sims had the student government on their side. This year, not so much.

“It looks like bars will be doing everything from closing down to staying open,” UPUA Vice President Brenden Dooley said previously. “There has been no unanimous decision and no broad consensus.”

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, to fight back against the university using any money to close bars like last year.

“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 is far from the only move to restrict the student-creating drinking holiday. Sororities will not be allowed to have guests during the weekend, and some apartments will prohibit all parties. Last State Patty’s Day saw a nearly 37 percent decrease in crime numbers. Time will tell if that trend continues this year.

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About Author

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014, and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is a director of the Nittany Valley Society 501(c)(3) and is involved in student government.

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