PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



“This American Life” Visits Penn State, Gets Upset

On Friday, award-winning and nationally-syndicated radio program This American Life aired a special on Penn State entitled “#1 Party School.” The program focused primarily, as the title would suggest, on Penn State’s recent “honor” of being named the number one party school in America, and the culture of drinking that has permeated the University and the State College community. The hour-long program interviews several prominent members of the Penn State community, including University President Graham Spanier and Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, as well as several Penn State students and State College residents.

The report begins with one of the show’s hosts sitting on a friend’s porch in an unnamed area of campus (my best estimates are either West College/Beaver or North of Park Ave.) and details some of the typical shenanigans that Penn State students are known to get into on a weekend night at 1:30 in the morning. The reporter and her host find numerous inebriated students stumbling across their yard, including 3 unnamed females urinating on their lawn. The program then launches into a scathing commentary on the widespread use of alcohol by Penn State students. The program is obviously a commentary on the drinking habits of college students, but also takes time to mention the drinking habits of legal-aged alumni, implying that one of the primary reasons that alumni come back, and donate, to the University is because they are permitted to drink on the tailgating fields before football games in the fall.

They follow around a State College police officer and seem appalled by the fact that he appears interested in underage drinking violations only if the suspect is “sloppy drunk” or belligerent. They also make a point of mentioning that the University has tried, on several occasions, to curb student drinking, only to fail miserably each time. Unsurprisingly, the Joe Dado tragedy makes an appearance, with the reporter commenting that Dado’s BAC of .169 is “less than half” of what a typical Penn State student drinks on a weekend night.

Read on to find my take on the program

Personally, I have no problem with a news outlet profiling student drinking habits, but my issue is with the fact that the report makes no mention of the great things that Penn State does everyday. It mentions that we have the largest stadium in the country, but only in connection to the drinking that occurs on football Saturdays, and it completely ignores the fact that Penn State is a top 50 university with highly respected programs in engineering, business, education, and earth sciences. It ignores students’ philanthropic efforts, makes no mention of THON, and notes on several occasions that the Princeton Review ranking of Top Party Schools includes the amount of studying time students put in each week as a factor.

So thanks, This American Life, for coming to visit Happy Valley. In the future though, please try to include both sides of the story instead of implying that Penn State students only care about being drunk 24/7.

If you feel like killing an hour of your winter break, have a listen to the report here.


About the Author

Chase Tralka

Chase Tralka is a Senior majoring in Information Sciences and Technology with a minor in Security and Risk Analysis. He is from Northern New Jersey and is involved in far too many organizations to list here. He enjoys photography, cycling, and listening to obscure free jazz music.


More by Chase

Three Words: For the Glory

When I sat back one night in January thinking about my time at Penn State, I tried to come up with a single word that would adequately describe my experiences here. As I attempted to determine what that magic word might be, my mind began to grasp the absurdity of that challenge. How could I possibly distill four years of my life, countless friendships, and untold numbers of memories, down to a single word? An impossible task to be sure. So instead, I took the easier road and went with three words: For the Glory.

Distinguished Speakers Chosen to Speak at Commencement Ceremonies

PSU Contacts Minnesota-Duluth’s Hockey Coach


Penn State Hockey Releases 2018-19 Roster

Brett Murray is no longer on the team after an uneventful tenure in Happy Valley that saw him score just one goal in 33 games.

Penn State Women’s Soccer Sophomores Start Season Strong

Penn State Women’s Soccer Beats Duquesne 6-0

Shea Moyer Lifts Penn State Women’s Soccer Past West Virginia 1-0

Penn State Women’s Soccer Poised For Strong 2018 Season

Student Life

Your Fall 2018 Sylly Week Playlist

Whether this is your first semester or last, welcome to Sylly Week.

While You Were Gone…

Involvement Fair Returns To HUB Lawn Syllabus Week

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Join Onward State: Fall 2018 Application

Onward State is hiring for the fall semester and we’d love to have you join us.

While You Were Gone…

Here’s a roundup of what went on around Penn State during summer break.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

What Changed In State College While You Were Away

With another summer in the books, here are all the changes to State College that happened while you were gone.

Send this to a friend