University of Iowa President Sally Mason’s regular monthly report to the Board of Regents today addressed the Princeton Review rankings released this week that labeled Iowa the top party school in the nation. Mason disputes the rankins and says the school has found that the common perception that you can’t do anything about alcohol abuse on college campuses is not true.
“And over the last 20 years research has compiled a list of strategies that has strong evidence of effectiveness in doing just that. And those strategies are indeed having some measurable success in reducing the harm that our students experience because of alcohol use,” Mason told the board. “And fundamentally, this is an issue of health and safety among our students. And it is why we spend a lot of time working on this and trying to make some improvements in it.”
The U-I has moved up the party school rankings, going from fourth to the top of the list this year. Mason says the school uses the National College Health Assessment Survey, and contrary to the Princeton Review rankings, it shows that things are improving.
“In 2009 we were embarrassingly high — more than 70-percent of our students were engaging in high risk, binge drinking in the two weeks proceeding the survey,” Mason explains. “At this point in time, now 2013, we’re at about fifty-nine percent. Not a great number, but a number that is actually much closer to the national mean, uh sad to say. What we’d like to do is continue to work to reduce that number.”
She says the survey shows the average number of drinks a student has in one occasion is down 20-percent. And the data also shows decreases in alcohol-related crimes, along with decreases in alcohol-related ambulance calls and visits to the hospital for alcohol-related issues.
“In each of the last four years, alcohol harm to our students has decreased. It’s frankly still to high, we still have a lot of work to do,” Mason says. “We’re not going to obviously give up on this. We will continue to be vigilant and I think through the steady progress we have made, we will continue that progress.”
The Princeton Review based its rankings on its annual survey of 126,000 college students.