UI targeted for in-depth alcohol, drug analysis

Officials: Findings not surprising

By Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa’s dubious crowning as the country’s top party school has earned it an in-depth analysis by a national advocacy group hoping to shed light on the larger picture of drug and alcohol use on American college campuses.

And, after crunching thousands of numbers provided by the UI Department of Public Safety, researchers at rehabs.com concluded that most drug arrests occur in the residence halls, most alcohol arrests happen downtown or near the sports facilities — Kinnick Stadium in Iowa’s case — and drug and alcohol incidents peak at the start of the fall semester, on Saturdays, and after midnight.

“Using the University of Iowa’s data, we can for the first time see where arrests took place, who was nabbed, what they did, where they were living at the time, and how old they were — everything we require to potentially learn more about the culture of crime on college campuses,” according to rehabs.com, an advocacy group that connects individuals with treatment centers nationwide.

But UI Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin said he didn’t find the results of the analysis to be new or surprising.

“I think it was an interesting exercise to see if they could map the data,” he said. “But I’m not sure what we learned from it. I think we knew that there are more alcohol arrests on the weekend and late at night and around the bars and around Kinnick.”

The group picked Iowa for its deeper analysis after the Princeton Review in August gave it the No. 1 party school designation based on a national survey of college campuses. The annual Princeton Review guide ranks things such as academics, campus life and extracurricular involvement.

The UI’s top rank in 2013 followed a second-place finish on the party-school list in 2012 and a No. 4 designation in 2011, earning it “a reputation worthy of inspection,” according to rehabs.com.

The analysis reviewed all 1,314 arrests made by UI police last year — 77 percent of which involved alcohol or drugs, according to the group. It did not include arrests made by Iowa City police or the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The analysis mapped only the UI police arrests of 18- to-25-year-olds, revealing a majority of drug violations in and around residence halls and clusters of alcohol arrests near downtown and Kinnick Stadium.

When looking at where each of the arrestees lived at the time they were charged, the review found that one in five of the 18- to 25-year-old suspects lived in buildings that included the word “hall.” By comparing the number of arrestees per residence hall with the hall’s total population, the analysis ranked the UI dormitories by arrests per capita.

Quadrangle Hall, which houses 358 students, had the highest arrest rate at 5.86 charges per 100 residents, according to the report. Slater Hall came in second with a charge rate of 5.61 per 100 students, and Stanley Hall came in third with a rate of 4.42 per 100 students.

By comparing the type of offense with the age of the offender, the report revealed that UI police accused 20-year-olds of alcohol offenses most frequently. The most common age for drug offenses was 18, according to the UI police statistics.

The most common offense was being in a bar after hours — referring to the Iowa City law that prohibits patrons under 21 from being in a bar after 10 p.m. Public intoxication and underage drinking also were common offenses.

Rocklin said the study might have been more informative if it compared Iowa with other campuses and reviewed arrest trends over time. Those types of cumulative statistics are what the UI monitors for improvement, Rocklin said.

“And we have seen decreases in all of our measures,” he said.

According to the UI’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan, the percentage of students who reported engaging in high-risk drinking dropped from 70.3 percent in 2009 to 58.7 percent last year. Likewise, the average number of drinks students reported having per occasion dropped from 7.43 in 2009 to 5.92 in 2013, and the percentage of students who drink on 10 or more days a month is down to 27.4 percent from 36.4 percent, according to the university.

“That is more important to us than an isolated study here and there,” Rocklin said.

To view the full report, visit http://www.rehabs.com/explore/number-one-party-school.

l Comments: (319) 339-3106; vanessa.miller@sourcemedia.net

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