As you’re surely aware by now, 34 of 35 downtown drinking establishments will close their doors this Saturday after taking a bribe from Penn State as part of its anti-State Patty’s Day efforts (Spat’s is the lone hero). All in all, Penn State is shelling out a total of $211,250 to keep legal-aged students from drinking on Saturday, a full $40,000 more than last year after upping the offer and renegotiating with some bars for more money.
So where is this pay-out money coming from? Penn State’s PR machine has been quick to mention that it is not coming directly from tuition dollars, which is technically true, although it stands to reason a six-figure dent in another university account still affects students. Instead, the bribe money is coming from the Student Parking Endowment fund, which goes to fund a number of important student services, such as (per spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz):
- Student Leader scholarships
- HUB Late-Night
- Student Activities/Events
- CATA Loop late night funding
“Student parking violation revenue is the primary source of funding and is deposited directly into the Student Parking Endowment fund,” Mountz said. “The fund also receives endowment investment income along with the student violation revenue. The cumulative endowment fund operating balance is the source of the funding for the payments to local businesses.”
Mountz assures that, because of a surplus in the fund balance, none of the above mentioned services would be cut in any way. The claim checks out — Penn State awarded 80 student leader scholarships worth $85,000 this year, which was the highest amount in the last five years of data I was able to obtain.
“The fund balance has accumulated over the years above and beyond the designated uses,” Mountz said. “The allocations have not been reduced for scholarships, late-night activities at the HUB or any other initiative.”
Personally, I would prefer another $211,250 in student scholarships to bar closures any day, but that’s just me.
Could this be the end of the seven-year drinking holiday? Between the bars taking the bribe, liquor stores closing, stricter housing rules, no frat parties, and palpably less enthusiasm on campus, this could the recipe the university is looking for to kill it once and for all.
We shall see this weekend. Be smart, Penn State.