UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State and State College Borough are working together to mitigate the dangerous drinking and other impacts associated with the Feb. 27 student-created drinking event known as State Patty’s Day, which may be more dangerous this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Borough and University police and state law enforcement agencies will work together to maintain a robust law enforcement presence throughout the weekend.
The patrols, which will include uniformed and plain-clothes officers, will be focused on enforcement in residence halls on campus and rental properties and neighborhoods at the edge of campus. In addition to focusing on liquor law enforcement, officers will be on alert for individuals breaking state and local orders and ordinances prohibiting social gatherings and mandate mask wearing where physical distancing is not possible.
In a Feb. 23 memo to members of the State College Tavern Owners Association, State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine and Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims call on establishment owners to help “mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to help impede the negative effects of State Patty’s Day.”
“This year we are not only concerned about the typical unruliness and dangerous behavior associated with State Patty’s Day, but we also have a pandemic to contend with, which makes the behaviors associated with this weekend even more dangerous than in a typical year,” said Sims. “We must all do our part to keep our community safe from both COVID-19 and the recklessness associated with this troublesome annual event.”
State College Police Chief John Gardner, Penn State Police Chief Joseph Milek and Penn State Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Danny Shaha sent a letter to State College residents on Feb. 23 asking that they refrain from having guests at their apartments and homes this weekend.
The letter also asks residents to continue taking precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and reminds State College tenants that they can be arrested if individuals under age 21 are consuming alcohol at their apartments or houses.
“The Borough of State College continues to work in ensuring our community is safe and livable, however, actions like dangerous drinking and social gatherings during a pandemic only puts our community at risk,” said Fountaine. “Everyone in this community has a role to play in keeping our community safe and stopping the spread of the pandemic. We ask that you respect and care for your neighbors and do not participate in this dangerous event. One weekend is not worth putting yourself or others in danger.”
In addition to the increased law enforcement patrols, the following safety measures have been put in place to curtail dangerous activities on Feb. 27:
- Greek organizations will not host social events, consistent with the expectations for these groups enforced throughout the pandemic.
- The University’s residence halls, under current COVID-19 protocols, are not allowed to have guests.
- Many property managers will have extra staff on hand to patrol their properties and quickly report illegal activities to the police.
Any Penn State student charged with violations during the weekend, on or off campus, will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for appropriate disciplinary action.
However, students are reminded that local guidelines, including Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol and Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law, protect students from prosecution for consumption or possession of alcohol when they seek help for a peer who is passed out, unconscious or unresponsive as the result of over-consumption.
All individuals are required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks or coverings on Penn State’s campus. In State College Borough, COVID-19 Masking and Other Regulations Ordinance 2152 requires the wearing of a mask when within six feet of another person and limits gatherings in all housing types to no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 10 people outdoors. The fine for failing to wear a mask or hosting a gathering exceeding the described limits is $300.