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Friday News Overload

Jenna Johnson

Kiss me, it's fake St. Patty's Day
In 2007, St. Patrick's Day fell during spring break at Penn State, so student Joe Veltre and his friends decided to create another holiday to celebrate when everyone was on campus. "State Patty's Day" was an instant hit and attracts crowds of students in green T-shirts for an entire day of drinking. But some say State Patty's Day has also become a dangerous celebration of binge drinking, a fake holiday hated by police and school administrators. Last year, police saw students vomiting or urinating on sidewalks in broad daylight. Drunken driving arrests were up, and more than 20 people needed emergency medical services. State Patty's Day yielded more alcohol-related incidents than the 2008 Homecoming weekend or the primetime Illinois game, The Daily Collegian reports.

Saturday is the fourth annual State Patty's Day -- and officials have spent weeks trying to shut down this pseudo-holiday. Their efforts are intensified because of the death of a freshman last semester, who was killed when he fell down a flight of stairs after a night of drinking. The State College Tavern Association agreed there will be no green beer or State Patty's Day specials. Bars have to follow their regularly scheduled hours of operation and can't open early. Two bars are staying closed Saturday in an act of defiance, The Patriot-News reports.

Administrators are also reaching out to students and discouraging them from participating. One dean posted on his blog Wednesday and asked students to "bring no disrepute to yourself or to our institution" during the festivities, the Daily Collegian reports.

The holiday's founder says he wouldn't be heartbroken if the tradition died. "It's transformed -- I feel like it's kind of run its course, and I wouldn't be sad at all if it happened," Veltre told the Daily Collegian.

Berkeley Riot
Late Thursday night a dance party celebrating public education at the University of California, Berkeley, turned into a violent riot involving more than 200 people, "six law enforcement agencies, runaway dumpsters, flaming trash cans, shattered windows and violent clashes between rioters and police," The Daily Californian reports. Next week, student leaders have planned a series of protests and rallies across the state.

Take me to your mascot
A group of University of Mississippi students are advocating for a new mascot: Admiral Ackbar, a strange-looking figure from Star Wars. But what started as a joke is picking up momentum and there are some fans who really do want the Admiral as the school's new mascot, reports The Paper Trail, U.S. News & World Report's college news blog.

Continuing education
Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly says that Sarah Palin "needs to go to college -- political college, world affairs college, and she is," Politico reports.

Student loans
In an op-ed in today's Post, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan writes that bankers "have gotten a free ride" from the U.S. Department of Education for too long. Right now, taxpayers provide as much as $9 billion each year to subsidize guaranteed student loans issued by banks. Duncan explains when he thinks needs to happen in a video interview.

AP debt
Families in California are struggling to find the money to pay for $86 AP tests, which quickly add up. School districts pick up the bill for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches -- but they are worried they might not be reimbursed, The Bakersfield Californian reports.

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By Jenna Johnson  |  February 26, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags: Berkeley, Penn State, University of California, University of Mississippi  
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Interesting stories. If the Berkeley riot was this violent simply to raise awareness about the protests yet to come, it makes one wonder what the actual protests may be like. It should be interesting to watch it play out over the next week or so.

Posted by: esallie | March 1, 2010 3:12 AM | Report abuse

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