Town-gown comity during annual ‘senior bar crawl’

Casey G. Rupprecht (right), IUP Class of ’19, and friends celebrate at a downtown Indiana, Pa., restaurant, May 4, 2019. Photo provided by Rupprecht.


An analysis

By David Loomis and Nathan Zisk

INDIANA – You may have missed it. On Saturday, May 4, IUP students indulged in yet another “high celebratory event,” as the university euphemizes. It was the annual “senior bar crawl,” when presumptively educated, responsible and of-age young adults cheer the end of 15-plus years of formal classroom learning and chill on the eve of final exams.

How could you have missed it? According to one description on social media, “Seniors, especially female seniors, from IUP were wandering from bar to bar downtown, sloppy, staggering drunk well before sundown, falling off barstools in our fine downtown establishments.”


Well, you might have missed it because there were no police helicopters, no drones, no mounted cops, no landlord posse. Neither The Indiana Gazette nor the university mentioned the unsanctioned event – although the university did promote some dry activities. (A student-activities administrator could not provide a headcount in a May 20 email interview.)

Result: Borough police had comparatively little to report – a total of eight calls for service on Saturday, May 4, according to Chief Justin Schawl. One guy was charged with public drunkenness when he was found passed out on a bench shortly after midnight Saturday, the chief reported. A report of intoxicated pedestrians was unfounded. One disorderly-conduct incident brought no charges.

“An influx of pedestrian traffic was noted on Philadelphia Street during daytime hours,” the chief reported. “But that influx did not create an increased need for police services.”

Not unlike downtown bar-crawls led by local civic clubs. All good fun.


ONE RESTAURANT OWNER called May 4 a good day downtown.

“Kind of worked out terrific,” wrote restaurateur Tony DeLoreto in a May 19 text message. “Had our busiest bar crawl in early afternoon. And I think everyone went home to sleep, and then we had a really good dinner. Drunks kids were sleeping (for the most part) and missed the dinner people. I think it is not as much trouble as IUPatty’s, because it’s in a controlled environment (the bars) as opposed to an uncontrolled environment (house parties).”

Students said they had a good day, too.

“As a senior, that’s like your last hoo-rah,” Casey G. Rupprecht, a Class of ’19 grad with a bachelor’s in food and nutrition, said in a May 20 phone interview. “You have to go to all the bars during the day. It’s the last hoo-rah with all your friends. You look forward to it all year.”

Rupprecht said students took their bar-crawl cues from social media, including Twitter and Instagram. Locals were taken by surprise.

“There were clearly people who didn’t expect all the seniors going out,” Rupprecht said. “But I don’t think anyone had bad spirits or bad attitudes to them being out and about.”

Students were well-behaved, she added.

“By your senior year, you kind of learn that Indiana is part of your home, too,” Rupprecht said. “I think the seniors learn to have more respect for the town of Indiana.”

Kayla M. Williams, who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism and public relations, agreed.

“At IUP, we kind of get mad when people from outside of town come up for Homecoming and IUPatty’s and wreck the town,” Williams said in a May 20 phone interview. “It gives IUP students a bad reputation. We live here and go to school here, so we care how it looks.”


Nathan Zisk, a senior majoring in economics and journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, graduated May 11. He is from Brownsville, Pa.

 David Loomis, Ph.D., emeritus professor of journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is editor of The HawkEye.

The HawkEye invites comments on this and other issues of community interest. Email or click on the “contact us” drop-down menu, above.


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