How do you stop the rampant drunkenness and hooliganism of a day dedicated to college partying? Penn State has found one solution: pay alcohol-sellers to stay closed.
For the second year in a row, the vast majority of downtown State College, Pennsylvania establishments will not serve alcohol on "State Patty's Day," the massive student-led party traditionally held on the last Saturday of February (this year, it'll actually be on March 1), and will instead accept a nice monetary gift from the University.
Last year, bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in the college town were each offered $5,000 to halt alcohol sales on State Patty's Day. That flat rate has now been scaled into a four-tier payout system to account for bars with larger or smaller capacity, ranging from $2,500 to places that hold fewer than 100 people up to $7,500 for places that hold 350+ people.
Call the University payment a bribe, perhaps, but money talks, and 31 of 34 downtown State College alcohol-sellers will not serve intoxicating drinks this Saturday. The payout money is coming straight from the university's pocket via parking fines, "with a possible small contribution from the Campus-Community Partnership on Dangerous Drinking, ” according to Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims.
In an attempt to combat the sometimes-destructive St. Patrick's Day celebrations, Penn State traditionally plans its spring break to occur over the holiday's date of March 17. But those crafty collegians artificially moved up the big State Patty's Day celebration as a response in 2007, continuing to chug green beer as a college community a few weeks ahead of schedule. The University's plan to pay off bars did have a noticeable effect last year; local police noted that crime dropped 37 percent from the year before.
Leaders of campus Greek life are also getting in on the plan to cut down on State Patty's Day, The Daily Collegian reports: "This year, in addition to bars closing, the Interfraternity Council banned alcoholic events in fraternity houses on both Friday and Saturday and the Panhellenic Council implemented a no-guest rule for sorority dorms throughout the weekend." Without bars, boozy restaurants, or frat ragers, smaller and more tame apartment parties will likely be the solution.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.