Penn State, still reeling from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, are now facing another nightmare -- the annual state St. Patrick’s Day drinking marathon described as a ‘drunken free for all” which has caused major problems for police and college authorities in recent years.
The day, dubbed ‘State Patty’s Day”, attracts drinkers from other campuses around the state and has resulted in very negative headlines for a college reeling from the football coach scandal.
Even though Penn State students are on spring break during St.Patrick’s Day, that does not stop thousands showing up for an all day booze-up.
“Penn State students aren’t put in the best light on State Patty’s Day,” Katelyn Mullen, president of the Association of Residents Hall Students and a member of the Student Alcohol Advisory Committee told Penn Live.com. “They may be seen as cool by other universities, but looking ahead, it’s not the kind of thing I want to be associated with.”
Mullen and some Penn State officials want to end the St. Patrick’s Day drinkathon.
Last year, state police logged 408 incidents including criminal behavior and arrests. Emergency rooms were swamped with students, some seriously impaired.
“People are throwing up, sometimes urinating in public, using a lot of profane language,” Police Chief Tom King said. “There’s no good aspect of the event. It does nothing but detract from the community.”
“So even when we communicate well with people in this area, we still have difficulty with people who just come here for the day to party and get out of control, not realizing the negative impact it has on this town,” King said. “We don’t need that ever, but especially at this time, considering all that’s happened over the past few months.”
Emergency services are also strained. “It’s a lot of extra work,” said Dr. Theodore Ziff, medical director of the emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center. “Typically, these patients are time-consuming, somewhat hard to manage.
Some are abusive. They require a tremendous amount of nursing care. Many are incontinent, sometimes very vocal...That’s an issue for emergency medical physicians, figuring out who is just drunk and who is critically injured,” Ziff said. “That’s difficult. Both patients come in unresponsive, but one is unresponsive because they are drunk. The other because they are bleeding in the head after a fall.”
Katelyn Mullen says Penn State’s national disgrace over the Sandusky episode makes more bad press potentially very damaging.
“This year, I think with the events that have transpired, students are looking more into their future seeing the Penn State reputation and how we are working so hard to rebuild that reputation and have it be a positive one,” Mullen said. “I think a lot of students see State Patty’s Day as hindering the reputation we aspire to.”