Student disorderly house charges up under 21-ordinance

BY ARIANA WITT | JULY 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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The number of disorderly house citations among University of Iowa students has increased almost 84 percent in the last year, according to numbers from the UI and Iowa City police.

The figures, included in the Iowa City City Council packet released Thursday, show an increase in the number of student disorderly house citations from 81 in the 2009-10 academic year to 149 in 2010-11.

Overall, the number of students charged with one or more non-traffic criminal offenses increased from 1,098 in the 2009-10 year to 1,330 in 2010-11, the highest number of students in the last five years.

These figures could stir speculation that Iowa City's 14-month-old 21-ordinance has increased the number of house parties. However, UI officials recently reported decreases in alcohol-related emergencies, including fewer ambulance calls to downtown and an 8 percent drop in binge-drinking rates over the last two years reported in June.

"The fact that we have fewer students engaging in high-risk drinking means they're going out and practicing safe behavior," Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Life, said about the decrease in binge-drinking in a previous interview.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan Wednesday, UI President Sally Mason said it's too soon to draw conclusions from statistics on ambulance calls but that UIofficials are interested in the numbers.

"Anecdotally at least, at this point in time, it's hard to say if house parties have increased dramatically or whether there is increased danger with house parties, where people maybe won't want to call for emergency services," Mason said. "It is something we are going to pay attention to and see if we can help monitor better."

Police numbers also show a large increase in charges for underage patrons in bars after hours — up from 36 in 2009-10 to 193 in 2010-11. Drug-possession charges also saw significant increase in that time period — up from 82 to 131.

UI Dean of Students David Grady said in a letter to Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine that in the last year, a "vast majority of charges filed against students were alcohol-related" from Aug. 1, 2010 to May 20.

During that time, UI police charged 968 university students, Grady said, and Iowa City police charged 873.

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