By Logan Hullinger
INDIANA –- Two weeks ago, state Rep. Dave Reed called for an end to the annual IUPatty’s revel and ruckus and invited “all in our community to make it happen.” Reaction among local officials, university administrators and students has ranged from support to opposition.
Kaycee E. Newell, a member of the borough council, is skeptical.
“If Dave Reed has some magic solution to stop 18-to-24-year-olds from partying, I’d love to hear it,” wrote Newell in an April 3 email. “I think Rep. Reed needs to reevaluate his priorities.”
More important priorities, according to Newell, include what she described as a “highly unpopular” local-school-board proposal to close two elementary schools in the borough and to build or rebuild two others outside town. The plan, Newell wrote, “would leave the Indiana Borough without neighborhood schools and would significantly increase property taxes.”
SOME INDIANA UNIVERSITY of Pennsylvania students shared Newell’s skepticism.
“They can’t stop students,” said Simone B. Covert, a freshman psychology major, in an April 4 social gathering at an off-campus residence. “They’re going to party no matter what. Maybe the people against it could put their efforts somewhere else rather than do the impossible.”
Tyler C. Shingleton, a junior criminology major, agreed.
“You can’t stop people from having parties — period,” Shingleton said at the same gathering. “The beer distributors, restaurants and bars have to make a lot of money for the borough, as well, during IUPatty’s.”
One Philadelphia Street restaurant owner agreed.
“The event is just a social media phenomenon that brings in a lot of money to the community,” Timothy M. McQuaide, owner of the The Coney, said during an April 5 phone interview. “Here on Philly Street, I don’t see any problem with what’s been going on.”
Like Reed, McQuaide suggested that local officials re-examine the annual event, but without a prohibitionist approach.
“It’s time to start rethinking this,” McQuaide said.
THE OWNER OF ANOTHER downtown watering hole, however, said IUPatty’s costs outweigh its benefits.
“The idea of putting an end to it doesn’t bother me,” Harry Spielman, owner of H.B. Culpeppers on Philadelphia Street, said during an April 5 phone interview. “It’s just a liability, and I don’t make much money off of it.”
Borough council President Peter Broad said the bad outweighed the good.
“Business owners who profited from the debauchery did, indeed, profit greatly,” Broad said in a April 4 email. “However, theirs was a unique and unshared experience.”
Broad added that Reed’s position is widely shared among constituents.
“This year’s celebration was way over the top,” Broad said. “It really was something students should be ashamed of.”
‘Business owners who profited from the debauchery did, indeed, profit greatly. However, theirs was a unique and unshared experience…. This year’s celebration was way over the top. It really was something students should be ashamed of.’
— Indiana borough council President Peter Broad
University spokeswoman Michelle S. Fryling, the voice of a group of landlords, police, university administrators and others organized to rein in the annual event, expressed support for Reed’s “zero tolerance” policy.
“We completely agree with Rep. Reed’s comments,” Fryling wrote in a March 29 email, “including addressing the violence, gun presence and other criminal activities that happened off-campus over the weekend.”
BOROUGH POLICE, however, described IUPatty’s this year as unexceptional.
“During the weekend of the celebration, we received a 258 percent increase in calls of service,” police Chief William C. Sutton said in an April 4 police-office interview. “This is average for the weekend of the celebration — besides last year, when we had a fairly tame weekend.”
His department received 220 phone calls for service and pressed 87 criminal charges from Thursday, March 23, to Sunday, March 26, Sutton said. He described the statistics as “fairly normal.”
The two shootings that took place off-campus were outliers, Sutton said. Neither involved current IUP students, according to news reports.
SUTTON DECLINED comment on Reed’s proposal. Other local officials who declined comment include:
- Rep. Reed
- IUP President Michael A. Driscoll
- IUP’s Student Government Association President Brian H. Swatt
- Indiana Borough Chamber of Commerce
- 10 of 12 Indiana borough council members
- Two rental-agency members of the Indiana Landlord Association — Oak Grove Realty and Dynamic Real Estate Management
Logan R. Hullinger, junior journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from Clarion, is a staff reporter for The HawkEye. He may be contacted at L.R.Hullinger@iup.edu