Iowa Tries, Fails to Curb Binge Drinking

beer2.jpg

Administrators at the University of Iowa were worried that many students began their weekends early. The school wanted to crack down on binge drinking, particularly common at Midwestern universities where there are limited social opportunities that aren’t alcohol-related.

At Iowa Thursday night drinking became such a problem that the school decided to schedule a whole lot of classes on Fridays. If students had to get up early on Fridays, after all, they’d be more responsible on Thursday nights. This policy has been a horrible failure. According to an article by B.A. Morelli in the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

Despite efforts at the University of Iowa to ramp up Friday classes as an antidote to student drinking and the “Thirsty Thursdays” phenomenon, just the opposite has happened.

[In the spring] Leaders in the Faculty Senate… unanimously approved a resolution urging faculty to hold more Friday classes in tandem with a vote of support for a city 21-only bar entry ordinance. The problem is students don’t sign up for Friday classes, making faculty wary of scheduling a class that will ultimately be cut because of low enrollment, said Kathryn Hall, director of academic programs and student development in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Why offer the class if students won’t sign up for it? Why sign up for a class if the university’s likely to cut it? This fall, Iowa has only 1,255 classes on Fridays. It offers 2,130 classes on Wednesday.

Hall seems not to get it. According to the article, “What’s needed is a culture shift toward Friday classes as a standard, both among students and the university, she said.”

Um, or just give up. There’s not necessarily any reason students and professors need to have classes five days a week in order to get the full college experience (both academic and social).

Back in January the University of Montana tried to eliminate Mondays to save money. Montana probably would have been fine.

No word yet on how Iowa’s Plan B for cutting down on college drinking—move the college the hell out of Iowa City, Iowa—is coming along.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer