Members of the Penn State and State College communities gathered on South Allen Street the evening of Aug. 30 for a night of games, food and live music at the second annual LION Bash. The block party was organized by the State College Community Engagement Office in hopes of bringing together two groups that have in the past felt odds with each other — students and long-term residents.
For how their lives overlap, student and permanent residents of State College comprise a people of many different backgrounds and lifestyles.
“Sometimes those lifestyle differences will just allow for some natural frustration,” Centrice Mulfinger of Community Engagement said. “So there’s opportunity for us to then facilitate conversations to talk about ways we can be a good neighbor.”
Mulfinger said that, by providing a more lighthearted atmosphere for the two groups to interact, Community Engagement aims to help better mitigate or avoid such frustrations – frustrations that she said often stem from the violation of local ordinances.
“We live in different worlds, and we have different lifestyles, so we don’t know each other. So the alienation is just because we don’t come together,” Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said. “And it makes you realize that students aren’t scary and drunk all the time.”
Local and University organizations contributed to the evening, something Panhellenic Vice President of Community Development Carly Haffner pointed to as a positive.
“I think it really shows that students are interested in engaging with the community and reaching out on that personal level,” Haffner (senior-petroleum and natural gas engineering) said, naming the Interfraternity Council and Student Programming Association’s presence at the Bash as examples.
“For their four years here, downtown is as much a part of school as campus is for them,” Kevin Crawford (senior-statistics), SPA director of operations said. “I always fear that sometimes the residents here have a stigma against the students […] something like this where you can show that we’re all in the same community, and all working together and we’re providing, as students, something for the community as a whole was just a really cool opportunity.”