University News

Today in University History: St. Patrick’s Day

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 18, 2015

1964

In anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day, 700 college students, including several from Brown, gathered at the Commodore Hotel in New York City for a “sex orgy,” The Herald reported at the time.

Students engaged in “drinking and brawling” and threw Bibles, lamps, ashtrays and other furnishings out of the hotel windows. Attendees also broke windows, smashed an elevator door and sprayed each other with fire hoses.

The week before, a similar event had taken place in Indianapolis.

Students from New York University, Princeton, Villanova University, the University of Massachusetts and other colleges were also in attendance.

1992

Heather Seal ’94 urged students to “do something wild and don’t get smashed off your arse this St. Patrick’s Day” in a Herald opinions column. Seal wrote that the image of the “drunk Paddy Irishman” remained a pernicious stereotype, though students often laughed it off.

She proposed that students instead use the holiday to learn about Irish culture by reading the work of Irish writers or listening to Irish musicians.

In the same issue, The Herald published a letter from David Phemister ’94 urging the University to permit kegs during Spring Weekend. Phemister argued that kegs were the most environmentally friendly way to consume beer, especially if students also used reusable mugs.

2007

Facing a weekend that featured both St. Patrick’s Day and the Queer Alliance’s Starf*ck party, administrators prepared for an increase in students requiring emergency medical care, The Herald reported at the time.

The University rented a second ambulance to attend to students at Starf*ck, said Margaret Klawunn, then associate vice president for campus life and dean of student life. Eight students required emergency medical care in 2005, the previous time Starf*ck was held, she said.

Klawunn identified Starf*ck and St. Patrick’s Day as “two events in which students are likely to drink irresponsibly.”

Department of Public Safety officers searched Alumnae Hall, where the party would be held, for illicit substances, and there was a large security presence at the event.

Additionally, Health Services led a campus campaign against the overconsumption of alcohol.

2009

About 30 Providence residents gathered at downtown bookstore Ada Books to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a reading of James Joyce’s short story, “The Dead,” The Herald reported at the time. Over the course of an hour and a half, 19 community members took turns reading the story aloud.

The event was organized by Matthew Lawrence, founder of the website Not About the Buildings and a former Brown Bookstore employee. Lawrence started the website in 2006 in response to the possible closing of several Providence Public Library branches. Though the branches survived, Lawrence continued to use the website to organize readings, book clubs, writing workshops and other literary events around Providence.