There's good money to be made by getting college students drunk.
And, apparently, in State College, there's good money to be made by not selling booze at all.
Penn State, the raison d'etre for many of the 34 bars, restaurants and bottle shops on Mount Nittany, has been paying the purveyors of John Barleycorn thousands of dollars each year for the past couple years not to sell alcohol on what has come to be known as "State Patty's Day," an informal, alcohol-soaked observance of what the rest of us know as St. Patrick's Day.
Of course, State Patty's Day doesn't always fall on the day of tribute to the patron saint of Ireland. It actually falls on the first day of spring break. It just happened that the planets and the calendar aligned one year to give a Hibernian pretense and a catchy title to an annual Bacchanalia.
This year, the University is proposing changing its flat fee of $5,000 to any establishment which volunteers to go non-alcholic for the day to a sliding scale based on occupancy. A tavern that can hold up to 100 customers will receive $2,500; those with up to 200 customers will get $5,000; those with up to 349 customers will get $6,000; and those with room for 350 or more will receive $7,500.
The concerns are real, because among those who ended up in the hospital last year for over-indulgence had an average blood-alcohol count about 3 1/2 times what the state considers legally intoxicated.
It's a shame that an instituion of higher learning must bribe barkeeps to remove a temptation for its students, these same people who are required by state law, under threat of significant penalty, to deny service to anyone who is visibly intoxicated.
And, since dangerously drunk people continued to show up at local hospitals last year, despite the payments, it questions the effectiveness of the program.
We're not so naive to believe that college students never drink or to suggest that they shouldn't if they are of legal age. Unless you attended Brigham Young University, your college experience more than likely included some drinking.
Still, if you are college-age, you are an adult and should have learned, or will quickly learn, that your actions have consequences. Your school shouldn't have to bribe establishments to save you from yourself.