Mason: Party rank perplexing


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University of Iowa President Sally Mason said she “is not discouraged” by the university’s jump in Princeton Review’s party-school rankings, but she said the move is “perplexing.”

“I think we’ve done a lot in the last year to really turn the tide on what I consider some of the less safe activities our students engage in,” she told The Daily Iowan on Thursday.

The UI rose from No. 9 in the 2010 rankings to No. 4 in the nation this year.

“Now, I’m delighted if this is an indication that our students come here to enjoy themselves,” Mason said. “I’m less delighted if it continues to be an indicator that somehow we’re not making the kinds of inroads into the dangerous drinking behaviors that are out there.”

Beyond the party-school ranking, local police doled out several more alcohol-related citations in the first weekend of this school year when compared with the same weekend in 2010.

Iowa City police issued 18 PAULA tickets in 2010 and nearly 40 last weekend. The number of open-container citations rose from three in 2010 to 18 this year.

And Mason, like nearly all Iowa City and UI officials, cited an increase in patrol efforts as the reason for the spike in citations.

“Not surprisingly, if those kinds of activities are occurring, they’re more likely to be noted, and the students will be cited,” she said, adding officials will monitor the situation closely.

If officials don’t see improvement, they might start the UI’s online alcohol information course, AlcoholEdu, earlier in the year, Mason said.

Iowa City police Sgt. David Droll said the collaboration between his department and the UI police will continue with specific efforts still geared toward patrolling parties.

Kelly Bender, the campus coordinator of the UI Campus and Community Alcohol Harm Reduction Initiative, said the police partnership may not be popular among students, but officials’ first priority is safety.

“We can’t create change without [the collaboration],” Bender said.

Mason also applauded the university’s “Think Before You Drink” campaign, an initiative started before the 2010 Hawkeye football season to bring more regulations to tailgating.

“I think that campaign got some real legs last year,” she said, noting she’s not aware of any planned changes to the program for this season.

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