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State College: A Drinking Town With a Football Problem

On Monday, the Centre Daily Times posted an op-ed by the self-proclaimed Apostle of the Keystone Church, Perry Babb.

Apostle Babb proposed10 solutions to the “irresponsible, dangerous drinking downtown and in the Centre Region.” Admittedly, Babb has been involved in many failed efforts to solve this problem, but evidently thinks that these 10 solutions are the real deal. Why? Here are his reasons.

  • He has experience working with different organizations to put forth efforts
  • Their church is located “at the heart of Beaver Canyon” and they “know what happens in Beaver Canyon and the Highlands neighborhood behind Sozo most Saturdays at 2 a.m.”
  • He and his wife have lived here for 30 years, and have raised kids here
  • He and his wife have degrees in psychology and sociology
  • They both had alcoholic fathers

Having heard his credentials, let’s hear Apostle Babb’s solutions:

Increase fines
Apostle Babb endorses raising the maximum fine for “summary offenses” (currently $300). Babb proposes that we at least double the maximum to $600. How this would stop drinking, I’m not sure, but Babb seems pretty concerned with raising borough revenue. (Editor’s note: Pigovian taxes! C’mon, Noah!)

Community Service
The idea here is to shame the sin of drinking out of people. Clearly, the prospect of doing possible community service will so repulse students, that they’ll decide not to drink.

Harsher Consequences
Apparently increased fines and community service didn’t count as harsher consequences, but I think that all three of these have the same glaring problem; that is, they assume that students believe that they’ll get caught and will weigh the consequences appropriately. Students assume they’ll get away with drinking, being drunk in public, etc., and therefore don’t consider the consequences.

And you know what? That feeling of immunity isn’t completely irrational. There’s reason behind that. I’ve peed in quite a few bushes, and haven’t gotten caught. If you’re smart, you shouldn’t get caught, right? The thing is, everyone thinks they’re smart.

Campaign for Change
This is where the Apostle gets creative and (in my opinion) silly. Since the media/marketing is what makes us drink, throwing money and advertisements at the problem will make it go away! The Apostle proposes a trinity of ad campaigns; “Why shame the name”, “It’s not OK, and it’s illegal”, and “Penn State drinking myths.”

Profanity not “free speech”
Pure genius, this one is. The Apostle turns from combating drinking to combating “a sense of chaos, lawlessness, and irresponsibility.” And apparently, “Public profanity promotes more irresponsibility”. The solution? Obscenity regulations. Despite the wording of this solution, I feel the need to point out that profanity IS free speech. Sorry.

Community covenant
What’s better than violating the right to free speech? How about violating the Establishment Clause (almost)? Babb proposes a “standard of community values” be adopted by various houses of worship and inaugurate the covenant with a public ceremony. A public ceremony promoting an adoption of public values? Put forth by a church? Adopted by the state?

Educate
Babb suggests the requirement of a one-credit course for all new Penn State students. *cough* Alcohol Edu *cough*. I’ll leave it at that

Promote Entertainment

All our troubles can be solved by forming a “Downtown Arts Consortium to promote and further develop State College as an art and entertainment destination.” I understand the logic behind providing alternative activities for students to do on the weekends, but isn’t that what LateNight has been trying to do for years? That said, their numbers are slightly up, so who knows…

Provide restrooms
Provide public restrooms to attempt to decrease the amount of public urination. “Encourage” local establishments to put up signs advertising public restrooms, and provide several downtown 24 hour restrooms. Basic economics problem here, Babb: what business is going to allow drunk college kids stumbling in all night and throwing up all over their bathrooms?

And public 24 hour restrooms? Those things would be so covered with bodily fluids by 10PM that no one in their right mind would want to use them

Clean up
“This spirit of chaos has to be countered,” Babb ends on sort of a strange note. Though the Downtown Improvement District already cleans the streets every night, Babb wants businesses to be responsibile for picking up the trash outside their doors. It is a reasonable idea, but I don’t see that having much of an impact.

After all his credentials and calls for new ideas, the Apostle’s solutions seem to be nothing more than tried, and failed, ideas and possible Constitutional infringements. Does Babb understand the mentality that goes into the “spirit of chaos”? Are his ideas legit, or is it just the same old shtick?

About the Author

Noah Simmons

Noah is an International Politics major minoring in French. Noah participates in the Mock Trial team, the Sailing Team, and is the president/founder of the Odyssey of the Mind club. Besides pushing the limit of what is journalistically acceptable, Noah enjoys long walks on the beach and football. In a previous lifetime he was William Wallace

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