For the second consecutive year, actions by Penn State and the Borough of State College led to significant declines in arrests, citations and emergency department visits on the drinking holiday known as State Patty's Day.
From Feb. 28 to March 2, police logged 102 arrests and citations – a 58 percent drop from 244 arrests/citations in 2013 – according to preliminary data from the State College Police Department, University Police, Centre County Alcohol Task Force and the borough’s Ordinance Enforcement Office. Fourteen of those arrests were for driving under the influence; 14 were reported in 2013 as well. State College and University police reported a total of 135 crime and ordinance violation reports, a 47 percent decrease from the 254 reports received in 2013. Staff at Mount Nittany Medical Center treated 33 alcohol-related cases over the weekend, a 28 percent decline from 46 in 2013.
Combined with the improvements from 2013, arrests and citations declined by 76 percent over the last two State Patty’s Day weekends and the number of reported crimes and ordinance violations declined by 56 percent.
"The campus and the town have been vexed by State Patty's Day since its inception, but we've found a formula that has whittled it away to the point that it is no longer the problem it once was,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims. “It's time for the vast good resources in our community to be pooled for the purpose of supplanting State Patty's Day with a festival that all of us, permanent residents and students alike, can enjoy without the fear, embarrassment or harm a drinking holiday creates."
“Due to the success that we have seen over the past two years, I am pleased that we can move now to replace this with a winter weekend festival that will appeal to students and other members of the community as well as providing an economic boost to all sectors of the local economy,” said Borough Manager Tom Fountaine. “The success represents what we can do in this community when we all work together with a common purpose.”
As in years past, the State Patty’s Day Task Force launched multiple initiatives to combat the holiday, which was launched by students in 2007 through social media. Chief among the town-gown collaboration’s strategies was the creation of a nearly alcohol-free zone in downtown State College on March 1. On that day, 34 out of 35 downtown establishments agreed to forgo the serving and selling of alcohol in exchange for a stipend; five area beer distributors also accepted stipends. Also on March 1, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board agreed to close its Wine and Spirit Stores in the Centre Region.
The Council of LionHearts mobilized 540 students to volunteer more than 1,000 hours with 31 agencies in the community. Projects included picking up trash downtown, painting walls in a State College School District’s Fairmount Avenue Building and cleaning Schlow Centre Region Library.
“State Day of Service afforded more than 500 students the opportunity to serve directly with community organizations,” said Julie LeBlanc, who oversees service initiatives within the Office of Student Activities. “Although the bitter winter cold led to the canceling of some of the outdoor service projects, we are delighted that so many students braved the weather to make a positive impact in the local community.”
Also this year, the Penn State Interfraternity Council banned social functions over the weekend, and the Panhellenic Council adopted a no-guest policy for sorority floors at residence halls. Also, representatives from the Off-Campus Student Union visited with fellow students living in the community, urging responsible choices over the party weekend.