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Why does the Collegian hate State Patty’s Day?

In today’s editorial, the Collegian made a very enthusiastic argument against State Patty’s Day.

We have a thorough analysis, including a response from Safeguard Old State Founder Tom Shakely, after the jump. If you’re at all interested in Penn State politics (or drinking or drinking while talking about Penn State politics), it’s worth reading.

The Collegian’s Argument (Source)

The Collegian says that basis of having a State Patty’s Day this year is “laughable at best. (According to the holiday’s founder, State Patty’s Day was begun to “prove that despite a reputation for excess, we might just be able to teach ourselves moderation if given the chance.” Regarding this year specifically, he said, “we’re having State Patty’s Day on a Saturday so Penn Staters can avoid missing classes by celebrating on the actual ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ in March.”)

The Collegian also ridicules Safeguard Old State’s involvement with State Patty’s Day.

Even more laughable is Safeguard Old State’s (SOS) current attempt to commandeer the holiday for its own agenda. State Patty’s Day began as a grassroots reaction to having one less day to get drunk in State College; SOS wants to turn it into an exemplar of how Penn State students can practice responsible drinking.

The Collegian says it is off base and counterintuitive to suggest that State Patty’s Day brings the Penn State community together. The paper’s substantiation seems to be that because THON is such an exemplary demonstration of bringing the community together, State Patty’s Day cannot be a demonstration of bringing the community together since all it consists of is “drinking dyed beer and passing out before the sun sets.”

State Patty’s Day is a shaky tradition as it is, particularly now that the reason for its inception no longer exists. For SOS to take it over for its own purposes and shroud it in a moral fog only serves to weaken the holiday.

There are many effective opportunities to promote safe drinking; a holiday dedicated to the very act of imbibing is not one of them.

That’s the bulk of the editorial’s argument. The editorial also states:

On top of that, SOS wants the university to offer alternative programming for the holiday. If Penn State doesn’t want people to drink — and it shouldn’t — the best method is to just ignore it.

Tom Shakely’s Response (via Email)

Shakely argues that State Patty’s Day is a student holiday.

It’s not managed top down other than a few students picking a date.

He says Safeguard Old State’s involvement with the holiday is “nothing more than for morale.” According to Shakely, State Patty’s Day is organic and cannot be regulated.

Though the community is getting together to drink, it’s still getting together. He says that “is pretty remarkable at a University where so many (The Daily Collegian included) bemoan mass apathy and dis-engagement.” And, if the community is getting together to drink, it is as good an opportunity as any to promote responsible 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.

Our Synthesis

The Collegian is absolutely right– the basis for State Patty’s Day is laughable. College students want to drink to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, but would prefer to do it on a Saturday rather than a Tuesday! Zomg!

It’s not as if Saint Patrick’s Day in its generally accepted form celebrates the greater good or anything like that.

Saint Patrick’s Day was instituted to celebrate Saint Patrick (duh), one of the patron saints of Ireland, but it has devolved into a day on which one drinks vaguely Irish alcoholic drinks and wears green. Is that any less laughable? Does it make the holiday any less absurd if one is drinking for the Irish than for Penn State?

We don’t think so. And, isn’t it marginally better to have the celebration on a Saturday than on a Tuesday? (OK, that does assume that people will only be celebrating one night…)

It’s going to happen either way.

Shakely’s right when he says that State Patty’s Day is an organic thing. Take a look at the Facebook group. As of this evening, it has 3,300 members. I guarantee that as Saturday approaches, the number of group members will rise even further. A dominating majority of those students view State Patty’s Day as an occasion to drink, and many probably don’t equate it with Safeguard Old State at all.

What’s wrong with Safeguard Old State trying to temper the alcoholic enthusiasm through its State Patty’s Day efforts?

We agree with Shakely that a more enlightened approach to alcohol is needed. It’s ludicrous that the Collegian thinks that if the University doesn’t want people to drink, it should just ignore the issue.

Safeguard Old State’s State Patty’s Day efforts will probably amount to nothing. But it can’t hurt, can it? It’s just whatever.

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About the Author


Creator of @OnwardState. Big fan of sweaters.

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