Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'We're # 2!' . . . in Campus Drunks

August 21, 2012, 10:00 a.m.

Coach: Players Should Drink in Dorms, Not Downtown
UI vaulted to the No. 2 spot of the Princeton Review’s annual top 20 party schools list for 2013, which was released Monday. UI moved up two spots from the No. 4 ranking it held a year ago . . ..

The party school rankings are one of 62 lists included in the Princeton Review’s 2013 edition of “The Best 377 Colleges,” . . . based on 122,000 surveys conducted last school year . . ..

The book also ranks UI No. 6 on its “Lots of Hard Liquor” list, No. 6 on the “Students Pack the Stadiums” list, No. 8 on the “Students Study the Least” list and No. 9 on the “Lots of Beer” list.
Josh O'Leary, "UI Jumps to No. 2 on Party School List; School Official Dismisses Rankings as Unscientific; W. Virginia Earns Top Spot," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 21, 2012, p. Al. See also, Madeline Savoie, "UI officials balk at party school rankings," Daily Iowan, August 21, 2012.

Needless to say, University administrators were shocked and outraged -- not at their students' drinking, but because "the rankings [are] unscientific."

“Among all the rankings published by various media outlets, the Princeton Review’s stand out for their complete lack of objective, scientific methodology. Their rankings are based almost exclusively on anecdotes and random, subjective feedback,” according to a UI spokesperson.

However, later in Josh O'Leary's story the same spokesperson is quoted as noting the UI's good news from what he presumably considers a much more scientific source. He "points to the latest data from the National College Health Assessment, which surveyed 882 undergraduates this past spring and found that the high-risk drinking rate for UI students has dropped 9 percent from 2009 to 2012."

Sounds good, until Mr. O'Leary informs us of another UI statistic the spokesperson failed to mention: "Even so, the 64.1 percent rate of UI students who reported consuming five or more drinks in one sitting in the two weeks before the survey [one definition of "binge drinking"] was almost twice the national rate of 34.1 percent, the National College Health Assessment found." (Besides binge drinking, the NCHA also reported that, "in 2012, 79.9 percent [of UI students] reported drinking in the last 30 days.")

If your students are consuming alcohol in bouts of binge drinking at twice the average rate of students on other campuses, according to a source you do consider scientific, it would seem to me that rather undercuts any efforts one might make to put down the Princeton Review rankings as "unscientific."

Nor does it help the institution's credibility when it has recently entered into a joint marketing arrangement with a major beer distributor, having apparently decided that the money it would provide is worth whatever additional harm it may do to students. "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .,"

Meanwhile and coincidentally, but totally consistent with the University's response to its impressive ranking as a party school, the same day's paper reported that a Hawkeye basketball player had been "arrested early Saturday [approximately 1:00 a.m., Aug. 18] by University of Iowa police and charged with public intoxication." His coach reassured the public that "He's a really good kid," and that the coach "was not as concerned [because the player] was in his dorm. [He wasn't] blowing a 0.2 at 4o’clock in the morning downtown.”

(You may have noticed that I do not mention the UI spokesperson, the coach or the player by name. This is because my concerns do not relate to them personally, and I see no reason to further implant their association with these events in Google and other search engines. My focus is on the campus culture regarding underage binge drinking, the Administration's willingness to participate in the marketing of even more alcohol to students (so long as it contains the words, "Responsibility Matters"), "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .," June 16, 2012, the campus culture surrounding athletics in general, and the especially volatile mix of alcohol with athletics.)

One wonders whether the coach's lax approach to student drunkenness was because the student was "a really good kid," or had perhaps been influenced at least a little by the fact that he was also "a really good basketball player."

Because the coach does not live in a dorm, perhaps he is simply unaware of the University's residence hall regulations:

All residents are expected to be familiar with and abide by the University of Iowa Policies and Regulations Affecting Students . . .. Any resident who commits, incites, or aids others in committing any acts of misconduct shall be subject to disciplinary action by University Housing & Dining and/or the University . . . as well as student or non-student guests . . . subject to disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Dean of Students for violating the rules listed below. . . .

(8) Unlawful manufacture, distribution, sale, use, or possession of illegal, addictive, dangerous, or controlled substances (including alcohol) on residence hall property. Empty alcohol containers and drug paraphernalia are prohibited.
"Prospective Residents Policies, Rules, and Regulations Guidebook," University [of Iowa] Housing & Dining.

So far as I know there are no provisions for disciplining coaches whose players violate these housing rules.

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John Neff said...

To be "scientific" the UI should have used a random sample of students and a validated instrument such as the AUDIT (alcohol use disorders identification test) screen. A ten question screen that has a fairly low false positive rate that the World Health Organization introduced in 1989, revised in 1992 and agin in 2001.

The screen the UI used has a very high false positive rate, has not been validated and is not comparable to properly done screens.

The original American College Health Association survey listed on their web page contains all of the questions used in the AUDIT screen. The survey used by the UI did not contain all of the questions and no attempt was made to follow the AUDIT protocol.

Miegel said...

UI sends a message to undergrads that undergrads are not the UI priority , unless they're athletes or have parents who can give yet more research buildings for tenured profs who dont teach. So after a week of trying to learn in huge classes and/or from TA's, why not binge ?