Brian Aynardi has witnessed State Patty’s Day several times since its 2007 inception, but he’s never participated. Now as a graduate student and faculty senator for GSA, he said the holiday has increasingly gotten worse.
Meanwhile, fellow members of the Graduate Student Association , which represents the graduate community at Penn State, do not support the student-created State Patty’s Day holiday that has created much controversy over the years.
The holiday was organized with a Facebook group because in 2007 spring break overlapped with Saint Patrick’s Day, as previously reported. It has been celebrated annually since, but not in the same spirit as when it began, Aynardi said.
“It was an innocent holiday where students wanted to have fun, but it’s morphed into a day where many people who aren’t even Penn State students feel they have the privilege to come to State College and get belligerently drunk and damage the town,” Aynardi said.
Dave Rench, vice president of external affairs for GSA, said GSA does not typically get involved in initiatives or projects to combat student drinking on this holiday. But Rench (graduate- physics) said, speaking on behalf of the GSA leadership, that they “do not support [State Patty’s] at all.” Rench also said GSA is a member of The Partnership: Campus and Community United against Dangerous Drinking .
On Tuesday, the Partnership announced that 34 businesses in downtown State College would not sell or serve alcohol on Saturday.
Vice President for Student Affairs and co-chairman of the Partnership Damon Sims said in an email that much of the resistance to State Patty’s Day has come from student leaders, including those in GSA.
“The strong student participation in the partnership, including substantial graduate student representation, makes clear that this is not a paternalistic, top-down, administrative response to the excesses of State Patty’s Day,” Sims said. “Instead, it is a response that originates in student leaders, who’ve come to the conclusion that there simply is no upside to State Patty’s Day.”
For undergraduate students, State College is a temporary home where they come to and leave from in four or so years.
But many graduate students make themselves a little more comfortable in the community. Some of them who studied as undergraduates at Penn State will be here for almost eight years, settle into houses or more permanent residences and even start a family with kids. For most of them, State Patty’s Day is not a fun, innocent holiday.
Aynardi (graduate-plant pathology) said the holiday was not supposed to be like this, adding that it really shouldn’t be called a holiday at all.
“State Patty’s Day is not a real Penn State experience,” Aynardi said. “It’s a lot of people coming in from out of town who trash State College because of a holiday that was initially started a number of years ago. If people want their friends to get a real Penn State experience, come up on a different weekend.”
Aynardi said that along with excessive drinking and damage to the town, students who drink too much take away necessary emergency services from other people in the community who need it. In addition, Aynardi said the holiday puts a strain on the borough and the police force.
Aynardi said because of State Patty’s Day, he purposefully avoids going downtown, where he usually studies or goes out to eat.
Rench said he also avoids going downtown.
Rench added that although students drink and have fun downtown during every other weekend of the year, there is a big difference during State Patty’s weekend, when he has to worry about his safety going downtown.
Rench said the holiday results in dangerous and underage drinking, but also public drunkenness and assault.
“People on the outside are more aware of one bad night than 364 good nights,” Rench said. “We aren’t representing the school in the best way.”
Rench and Aynardi both said that typical graduate participation in State Patty’s Day is much less than undergraduate participation, which may be a result of the lower graduate student population than undergraduate, Aynardi said.
Dustin Segovia , White Course apartments delegate for GSA, is married and has a young daughter. He did not study as an undergraduate at Penn State, so he has never participated in the holiday.
He said he doesn’t usually go downtown with his family, but said if he had plans to be somewhere on State Patty’s weekend, he would change his mind. Although Segovia has heard of the holiday’s bad reputation, he said if he were an undergraduate student here, he would maybe take part.
“[My wife and I] haven’t experienced [State Patty’s], but it seems well and fun and interesting, and it’s nice things are going on, but I don’t see it as black and white,” Segovia (graduate-law) said. “It shouldn’t be completely eliminated because it does bring appeal to the school.”