Three Penn State deans have independently come out discouraging student participation in the fourth annual State Patty's Day.
College of Engineering Dean David Wormley and College of Health and Human Development Dean Nan Crouter sent e-mails to students in their respective colleges, praising their involvement in the Interfraternity Council
/Panhellenic Dance Marathon and asking them to make responsible decisions for this weekend's student-run holiday.
Schreyer Honors College Dean Christian Brady also posted a message on his blog Wednesday, calling on students to "bring no disrepute to yourself or to our institution."
University spokeswoman Jill Shockey said administrators are aware the deans have voiced their concerns about State Patty's Day and "welcome the leadership of their academic colleagues who share concern about the risk and excess associated with State Patty's Day."
"It is encouraging that faculty have expressed concerns about the safety and welfare of their students," she said.
In an e-mail sent last week, Crouter contrasted the positive health effects of THON on pediatric cancer with the negative effects of participating in a holiday associated with alcohol abuse. State Patty's Day is scheduled for Feb. 27 this year.
Crouter said the death of freshman Joe Dado this fall played a role in her decision to address the holiday this year.
"The whole issue of overdrinking has been on my mind this year," she said. "Many of us were saddened to hear about the first-year student that we lost. I've been thinking about him a lot. Maybe that's why I decided to pick up the virtual pencil."
And Tuesday night, Wormley sent a similar e-mail, also commending students for their involvement in THON and asking them to not participate Saturday.
The decision to send the e-mail came after talks with other faculty and staff in the dean's office and other deans, Wormley said. He said he wants students in the college who do not support the holiday to know that the college leadership supports them.
"We had a lot of students participate in THON, and we wanted them to know we support many of the community activities that they engage in," Wormley said. "But we do not support something that is celebrating alcohol abuse."
Mike Sharkness, a student who received Wormley's e-mail, won't be participating in State Patty's Day -- he's going home for the weekend to help his parents pack for a move to Arizona. That aside, he thinks the dean's intervention is troubling.
Sharkness (junior-civil engineering) feels students should be left to make their own decisions about the holiday.
"We're supposed to be adults," he said. "Yes, the faculty's here for guidance, but at some point we have to be able to stand on our own."
But Jack Peterson (junior-aerospace engineering) had a different perspective. He said the e-mail was a good idea and may have convinced indecisive students to stay in this weekend.
"I'm sure there are some that will go out drinking anyway," Peterson said. "I think there were a couple students who were on the fence. This may have helped them decide."