116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Despite ongoing efforts to curb high-risk drinking and the reputation it brings to campus, the University of Iowa has not budged on the Princeton Review's annual list of top party schools.
It remains in the runner-up position, according to the publication's new party rankings — released Monday to go with its 2016 edition of the 'Best 380 Colleges' book. UI two years ago earned the top spot on the dubious list but was dethroned last year by Syracuse University.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign took this year's title as top party school, trading places with last year's No. 1, which now is where Illinois was last year at No. 5.
Iowa's second-place ranking marks the fourth straight year it has been either No. 1 or No. 2 and its fifth straight year in the top 5 — UI ranked No. 4 in 2012. Illinois' promotion to No. 1 marks its first appearance atop the rankings, which annually get a lot of traction on social media.
'Seriously?! Illinois BEATS Iowa? (chuckle),' one person wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Rounding out this year's top 5 are University of Wisconsin-Madison at No. 3 and Bucknell University, which bills itself as a 'highly selective, private, nonsectarian' school in Lewisburg, Penn.
UI in recent years has launched programs and initiatives aimed at decreasing high-risk and underage drinking on and around campus. In 2009, the UI Vice President for Student Life created the Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee charged with devising a 'research-based plan to create conditions on our campus which decrease high-risk drinking and the related harmful consequences.'
The group's plan lists goals like decreasing the percent of students reporting high-risk drinking behavior from 70 percent in 2009 to 49 percent by 2016, and Tom Rocklin, vice president for student life, said the university is making progress.
'We are focused on our students' well-being regardless of the ranking,' Rocklin said. 'In the last six years, binge drinking among University of Iowa students has dropped 23 percent.'
But any improvements seem to have been lost on those polled by the Princeton Review, which ranks colleges and universities in 62 categories based on a survey of 136,000 students at 380 schools. The survey asks students 80 questions about their institution's academic programs, administration, and student life.
And Rocklin conceded the university has more work to do.
'But I'm gratified to see there are fewer students engaging in high-risk drinking across campus,' he said. 'We'll continue to educate students about the dangers of high-risk drinking in order to enhance our long-term progress.'
UI dorm among those 'you'll never see on the campus tour'
The UI in the past week made another not-so-esteemed list via the New York Times.
With new freshmen across the country preparing to embark into the world of higher education — and thus life in a dorm — the publication cherry picked a few of the country's residence halls 'you'll never see on the campus tour.'
The select halls 'have survived to shock and dismay new freshmen with their cinder block aesthetic and dingy common rooms,' according to the Times. 'Air-conditioning is a distant luxury. Bathrooms are nasty, crowded and few.'
UI's Quadrangle Hall was among the five 'that look suspiciously like the fluorescent-lit dorms of yore' it chose to highlight.
'The water pressure is all but nonexistent, when the plumbing is working,' according to the Times. 'Cockroach sightings are common.'
One UI student told the newspaper her bed is an arm's length from her roommate's, but she's glad to have just one rather than four like many rooms. Those, she said, have an 'insane asylum' aesthetic, and the entire hall smells 'like a mixture of mildew and old people.'
To make room for a new pharmacy building, UI next summer is planning to raze the Quadrangle, which was built in 1920 on the west side of campus, next to Hillcrest and Rienow halls. It can house 358 students and lists among its features wireless Internet, laundry, Cambus services, outside volleyball courts, air-conditioning in some rooms, and a baby grand piano.