Penn State Daylong Culture

Contrary to popular belief, Penn State runs on trimesters.


“Daylong” – origin: State College, Pa. [noun.] – Any party taking place during the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at which Penn State students rage.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a Wednesday, a Friday or a Sunday. As long as the weather reaches 60 degrees and a few rays of sun peek through the State College cloud cover, it’s game on, all ‘day long.’

“I think that when spring hits, everyone goes outside to drink because we’ve been cooped up all winter,” says junior Nicole Martin.

It’s a custom that has even come to the attention of the faculty. As Professor Ford Risley of the College of Communications passed out a media history exam to students on a particularly sunny Friday, he warned the students not to rush through the test.

“Take your time reading through the questions. You should have plenty of time to finish the exam,” Risley said. “I promise you that Cafe will still be there when you’re done.”

The class giggled because everyone knew how relevant that caution was — Cafe 210 on West College Avenue is the premier spot for State College day drinking and usually gets crowded by early afternoon.

Beyond Cafe, there are still other outdoor venues for students to go. Fraternity houses host daylongs, surrounding the yard in fences and black tarp so that the revelry can’t be seen from the street. It’s kind of like a 100-person barbecue, but hold the barbecue, double the beer. Students heading to fraternity daylongs can be identified walking down the street by some type of outrageous clothing — usually neon colors, sideways hats, cutoffs or a themed outfit (USA, for example).

“I’ve seen a lot of girls wearing fanny packs and snapbacks, and I didn’t know it was back in fashion, but I know that means they’re going to drink,” Martin says. “Pinnies too. Nobody wears a snapback, a pinny and a fanny pack to class. You know where they’re headed.”

There’s nothing more tempting than a warm spring day to lure students away from their books and into the sun, and Risley says that class attendance “absolutely” drops as the temperature rises.

“It happens in everyone’s class, we [faculty] all talk about it,” Risley says. “It’s a rite of spring. Everyone wants to be somewhere else. The nice weather is just one more distraction. Unfortunately, grades do suffer.”

Potentially detrimental to grades, and also potentially detrimental to your criminal record.

“I noticed this past Friday there must have been a party going on, I saw some people coming back from it at 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon,” says University Police Chief Tyrone Parham. “That Friday at 5:30 p.m. we had a guy going to the hospital for public drunkenness, but that is very rare during the day. I hate to sound like a father, but students having common sense and knowing their limits is so important.”

Chief Parham says the advice he’d give to students going to such parties would be to travel in groups, keep your limits in mind, arrange transportation home and keep control of yourself.

With those rules in mind, you can be safer while having fun in the sun.

“I’d say daylongs are a big part of the social scene here,” junior Maxine Parker says. “They’re definitely more fun than parties at night. Being outside in the nice weather, everybody seems more happy-go-lucky. They’re what make spring in State College so fun.”

Regardless of the risk, there’s not yet a cure that’s been discovered for spring fever (though most students might say it’s Natural Light), and as long as that big ball of gas visibly burns in the sky 93 million miles away from us, there will be daylongs.

Photo by Nina Abbott

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