An article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs finds that a decade’s worth of strenuous efforts by colleges to curb drinking apparently went for naught. Researchers from the University of Minnesota looked at 18 (unnamed) institutions identified as “party schools” and found that in 1993, 28 percent of students said they frequently binged on alcohol. They surveyed students at these same schools in 2005, at which time 32 percent reported being frequent binge drinkers. Meanwhile, some 55 percent of students in the more recent survey said they engaged in “heavy episodic drinking.”
The phrase “party school” always brings to mind those tiny paper dunce caps little kids wear at parties while they’re pinning tails on donkeys and eating cake. But whatever it means, I supposed the University of Delaware is one. A couple of years ago, a student of mine named Lee Procida did a brilliant job of tracking down an urban legend, to wit: at some point in the not-too-distant past (usually given as “six or seven years ago”), UD was named by the Princeton Review, or Playboy, as one of the top ten party schools in the country, but the administration cracked down on drinking, and now the party scene was a shadow of its former self. Students were telling this to each other as Lee was writing the story; but he also found alumni from twenty years ago who remembered hearing the same story. (In actual fact, neither Playboy nor the Princeton Review has ever named UD as one of the top party schools.)
I did some Google searching with “University of Delaware” and “party school” today and, sure enough, found this, at pubclub.com:
The University of Delaware should be mentioned somewhere also! partying is the reason why people go to UD. school is second to getting drunk all during the week. Delaware was number one on the princeton party school list about 6 or 7 years ago or something like that and it should definately be a school to check out. the football games r crazy and there’s nothing like a tailgate party before the games.
Ah, makes my on-sabbatical self miss my dear students.
A little more poignant was what I found at a very skimpy college-information site, theU.com, where the entry on U of D was written by an anonymous student. He or she summed up:
I have no idea how Delaware only accepts just above 40% of it’s applicants… being here and experiencing it, you would have thought otherwise. If you’re smart I would suggest looking elsewhere. IF it is the party scene you seek- come here. If you’re smart and you like partying- apply for the honors program- you’ll be surrounded by smart partyers. Honestly, partying is really what may define your college experience here, and if you’re not into partying you may become detached from the general student population. I love how this university looks- it is very pretty and kind of looks like it’d be an ivy, but don’t let looks deceive you. Delaware is competitive for admission, but at the same time admits some really stupid people.
I hope the student wrote this on a bad day. But deep down, I worry that it was just a normal day like all the others.