Most businesses in the State College community, with the exception of a few stores that sell State Patty’s Day merchandise, cooperated with police in the effort to curb the negative effects of the student created “holiday,” State College Police Chief Tom King said.
King said the four to five merchants who sell clothing and other items branded as State Patty’s Day merchandise have repeatedly ignored requests from police and other individuals in the community in the past to stop selling those items.
King called the selling of State Patty’s Day merchandise “irresponsible” and said it is a “glaring disregard for what’s good about the community.”
King said that although State Patty’s Day T-shirts may seem “innocent and benign,” the sale of the merchandise is disruptive to the community because it promotes a dangerous day of drinking.
“The shirt itself doesn’t create problems, but what the shirt represents is a very harmful and destructive event,” King said. “In an effort to sell shirts and make money, they are making money off of something that is very destructive.”
In previous years, The Partnership: Campus & Community United Against Dangerous Drinking, a collection of university and student leaders, have visited downtown merchants who offer State Patty’s Day branded items and urged them to stop selling the products.
Student Book Store, 330 E. College Ave., Manager John Lindo said that the store only sells Saint Patrick’s Day related items, such as green T-shirts, and doesn’t sell anything with the name “State Patty’s Day.”
Lindo said he received a letter from community leaders last year who asked merchants to not sell any State Patty’s Day related items, but he said he did not receive that letter this year.
Lindo said he does not feel any pressure from the community to stop selling Saint Patrick’s Day related items, even though the store put the display for those items up a week before State Patty’s Day was set to occur.
People’s Nation, 126 E. College Ave., which had a sign posted on its front door that said, “Official State Patty’s Day Headquarters since 2007,” sold a variety of State Patty’s Day branded T-shirts and green accessories including beaded necklaces, hats, socks and bandanas.
People’s Nation owner Art Fine said via email that the subject of State Patty's Day merchandise is “too controversial,” and would not comment further on the merchandise sold in the store.
Fine also said that police and community members did not visit his store this year to ask him to stop selling the State Patty's Day merchandise.
McLanahan’s Penn State Room, 414 E. College Ave., had stacks of State Patty’s Day branded T-shirts for sale, as well as green shot glasses, hats, beaded necklaces, beer mugs with four-leaf clovers and several other St. Patrick’s Day themed items.
McLanahan’s Manager Jennifer Schoch said that the store would not comment on their State Patty’s Day merchandise.
State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said he was not directly involved in doing that this year and did not know if any other individuals in the Partnership or individual organizations within the Partnership went downtown this year for this specific purpose.
Fountaine said although repeated requests to merchants have been made in the past to stop of the sale of this merchandise, the Partnership has received limited success and positive responses from those businesses.
“Merchandise that is branded with State Patty’s Day and sold around that day really just continues to promote that day and adds to the overall negative atmosphere that exists around State Patty’s Day,” Fountaine said.
President of the Association of Residence Hall Students Caleb Fernandez, who was one of the individuals featured in the State Patty’s Day video released by Penn State student leaders, said via email that the student leaders involved in the video decided collectively not to go downtown this year to urge vendors not to sell merchandise, despite doing so in the past.
Fernandez (sophomore-advertising/public relations) said the student leaders did not do it this year because they wanted to focus their efforts elsewhere.
“Going downtown this year wasn’t on our minds,” Fernandez said. “We didn’t really consider doing it again because it wasn’t very effective last year — that’s why we focused on the video to have the biggest impact.”
Panhellenic Council President Rachel Franceschino, who was also featured in the video, said the members of the Partnership advised those on the State Patty’s Day Task Force that the stores downtown would not stop selling the merchandise because those State Patty’s Day items are a “large money maker” for their businesses.
The State Patty’s Day Task Force is made up of the Partnership and student leaders, such as the Interfraternity Council President, the Panhellenic Council President, the University Park Undergraduate Association and the Off-Campus Student Union, Franceschino (junior-political science and labor students & employment) said.
“While I’m disappointed that stores downtown will not stop selling the merchandise, I am very happy with the cooperation of the Tavern Association as well as the IFC and PHC chapter members, and believe that control of alcohol is a more pressing issue leading into State Patty’s Day than apparel,” Franceschino said via email.
IFC President Chip Ray echoed Franceschino and said that in past years, the efforts to talk to merchants about not selling State Patty’s Day products showed no results and therefore the student leaders did not want to waste their time addressing it this year.
“We believed that focusing on alcohol content was more important than the apparel people are wearing,” Ray (senior-industrial engineering) said via email.