The tipping point for community concern over the issue of excessive drinking in State College probably came this past fall when Penn State again achieved notoriety as "the No. 1 party school" in the country, followed by an hourlong National Public Radio story in December that revealed the dark side of our first-place status.
It seemed the right time to turn over the problem to 40 students gathered in my Writing in the Social Sciences classes.
Mostly upperclassmen who had experienced the drinking culture on both sides of the legal age, they represented a wide range of fields, including psychology, sociology, economics, education and even film.
As we explored the intricate cause/effect web that explains the linking of blue-and-white tradition to alcohol consumption, as we examined what factors might explain the excessive expression of that tradition in recent years, students began to respond to our discussions with a desire to contribute something real and lasting to the community-wide dialogue opened up in public issues forums and in the Centre Daily Times’ Focus on Excessive Drinking series.
On this page is a preview of the “Greatest Hits” ideas that students will share from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday during our open house in Borough Council chambers at the State College Municipal Building.
You will notice that these student proposals represent a wide range of ideas, from stricter disciplinary consequences to better-contained celebrations of the party-minded population.
During our program, we will offer a focused multimedia presentation in the first hour, including film clips of interviews of students, residents, police and community organizers.
We will share visual projections of proposed street improvements, as well as samples of the sort of humorous educational posters that might more realistically reach the target audience of real-life students.
The second hour will be devoted to a moderated discussion open to the entire public. We hope you — students, residents and community leaders — will join us.
If you have any questions about the upcoming event, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judith McKelvey is a lecturer in the department of English at Penn State.