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Party on the prairie

BY BILL COONEY | AUGUST 04, 2015 5:00 AM

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From the madness of the late-night Pedestrian Mall to endless tailgates as the leaves change colors, it’s not hard to find a party in Iowa City.

On Monday, the Princeton Review published its annual ranking of the top-20 party schools in the nation, and for the second year in a row, the University of Iowa was ranked as the No. 2 school on the list.

The University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign beat out the UI for the top spot in this year’s rating, moving up from No. 5 in 2014. Completing the top-three finish for the Big Ten was Wisconsin, rising five spots on the list to take third this year.

The Princeton Review bases many of the 62 different lists it develops on more than 136,000 responses from college students during the academic year, said Rob Franek, the senior vice president and publisher of the Princeton Review.

The party-school ranking is unique because it draws from five different questions asked, Franek said.

“The rest of our lists only draw on one specific question asked of students, such as: how much hard liquor is consumed at parties at your school?” he said. “The party-school ranking actually draws on data from five different questions we ask students.”

These questions ask students to rate the popularity of hard liquor at their schools, the popularity of beer, perceived popularity of greek life on campus, how much students study, and how packed the stadium gets for football games.

Franek said 97 to 98 percent of students answer the Princeton Review’s general questions about their schools online. Data are collected throughout the academic year, but Franek said the majority is collected from October to February.

Fall marks the beginning of the academic year and lots of rowdy students. Fall also means the start of a busy football season for the police, Iowa City police Sgt. Chris Akers said.

“The first three or four months of the school year are our most active period, mostly because of football season starting up.” Akers said. “There are always exceptions, though; people tend to get a little stir-crazy toward the end of the school year.”

Despite the UI’s presence on the top-20 party-school list in recent years, Akers said, most of the arrests police see during football season, and the school year in general, are not alcohol-related.

“I would say the majority of arrests we see are related to poor decisions people make,” Akers said.

Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Life, released a statement after the ranking was announced.

“We are focused on our students’ well-being regardless of the ranking,” he said in the statement. “In the last six years, binge drinking among University of Iowa students has dropped 23 percent.

“We have more work to do, but I’m gratified to see there are fewer students engaging in high-risk drinking across campus. We’ll continue to educate students about the dangers of high-risk drinking in order to enhance our long-term progress.”

Franek said all of the lists and rankings Princeton Review puts out are there to help prospective undergraduates, as well as their parents, make decisions about college by giving them as clear a picture as possible into student life at a particular university.

“Social life is a big part of a students time on campus,” Franek said. “Who can be considered a better expert on college life than a college student?

“That is why we only use student data to make these lists. We want students and their parents to take these lists with them on campus tours and be able to engage in discussion based on current student opinion.”


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