Speakin’ Out Against State Patty’s
Those of you who read the Collegian on Tuesday probably read about Dennis Shea, head of the Department of Health Policy and Administration and staunch objector to State Patty’s Day. For you devout Onward Staters, you may know Dr. Shea better as the prolific commenter “GTWMA.”
To the average college student, GTWMA may seem like a stringent fun-sucker beamed to the future from the temperance days of yore. But when compared to the shamrock-covered sloppy messes drunk at 10 am, the enlightened Dr. Shea wins the allegiance of many.
Dr. Shea has gained a following; the End The “State Patty’s Day” Tradition Facebook group has amassed over 1,185 members (although the “official” State Patty’s Day group has 9,390 members, roughly a quarter of the student body).
In the words of Dr. Shea:
Students do need to realize that the amount of drinking that occurred on last State Patty’s Day created a real public safety situation last year. There were periods of the day when there were no EMS available to respond.
He speaks the truth. Last State Patty’s Day produced 9 summary criminal arrests, 21 alcohol overdoses, 14 DUI arrests, 31 loud-noise citations, and several cases of vandalism. In addition, 311 calls to State College police occurred that weekend, surpassing the amount on any football weekend last year.
What can be done? Changing students’ values about alcohol is a lost cause; a structural change is needed. The recent CDT opinion column made some reasonable suggestions to meet this end:
• Bars should keep normal operating hours and refrain from featuring anything but their regular specials.
• Downtown stores should not offer State Patty’s Day clothing or otherwise promote the event in any way.
• Penn State should warn students and punish those who are arrested on this weekend to the maximum allowed.
Such steps would certainly reduce the potency of the “celebration,” if only State College and Penn State could collaborate to meet these goals.
Perhaps Dr. Dennis Shea will formulate a concrete plan of action to eliminate the holiday. If not, at least GTWMA will share his opinions with us here at Onward State.
One last thought. Looking through my calendar today, I realized that St. Patrick’s Day falls after spring break this year. In other words, there’s no need to designate an arbitrary Saturday as State Patty’s Day since the real St. Patrick’s Day is within reach.