Frats join efforts to curb State Patty’s Day ‘drinking holiday’

State Patty’s Day weekend 2014 may not be able to resurrect itself after the Penn State Interfraternity Council announced this week it voted to ban social functions during the March 1 weekend.

State Patty’s Day, a student-organized event that began in 2007 that involves drinking and partying over the weekend, took a hit last year when borough and campus groups united in an attempt to cancel the unofficial holiday.

Last spring, more than three dozen bars agreed to not serve alcohol, receiving $5,000 each from a partnership of Penn State students and university and local leaders who sought to create an “alcohol-free” zone downtown.

On that weekend, State College police said they made 138 arrests from 6 p.m. Feb. 22 to 6 a.m. Feb. 23. Those numbers were down from 225 arrests in 2012 and 234 arrests in 2011, according to police reports.

The interfraternity council voted on the ban Dec. 10.

“The Interfraternity Council presidents realized the black eye that this day causes for the community and wanted to continue to be leaders in helping to end the excessive damage and drinking that happens,” Chip Ray, outgoing IFC president, said in a news release Thursday.

The Greek organizations will not hold parties from noon Feb. 28 to 2 a.m. on March 2.

“The IFC has worked closely with the university, the State College borough and the State College police in the past several years and hopes to continue the collaborative efforts,” Ray said. “We hope that other students will choose not to participate in alcohol-related events on this day and join us in our efforts to end this destructive event.”

DUI arrests were down from 14 to four this spring, and noise violation citations were also down from 24 to 18, police said.

State College police were assisted by state police, Penn State police, the Centre County Alcohol Task Force, neighboring townships’ departments and Liquor Control Board officers from Altoona, Williamsport and Harrisburg.

Student Alcohol Advisory Committee members have met this year with the Tavern Association of State College to curb the event, according to the news release. The University Park Undergraduate Association and other student organizations are requesting that retailers not sell State Patty’s Day merchandise.

Students are also attempting to create a State Day of Service for the weekend and have identified 18 locations for service projects, according to the release.

“The downside of State Patty’s Day so overwhelms any perceived upside that we hope to bring the event to an end next year,” said Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs and co-chairman of the State Patty’s Day Task Force, a collaboration between State College and Penn State. “Ideally, the town and the university would like to replace this destructive drinking event with a festival everyone could enjoy and which would not pose the same risks created by State Patty’s Day. Our students clearly are leading that cause.”