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Party School

Crime, Campus, and Community

Karen G. Weiss

Publication Year: 2013

On the basis of extensive on-site research, Karen G. Weiss offers a case study of crime victimization at an American "party school" that reverberates beyond a single campus. She argues that today's party school--usually a large public university with a big sports program and an active Greek life--represents a unique environment that nurtures and rewards extreme drinking, which in turn increases the risks of victimization and normalizes bad behavior of students who are intoxicated. Weiss shows why so many students voluntarily place themselves at risk, why so few crimes are reported to police, and why victims often shrug off their injuries and other negative consequences as the acceptable cost of admission to a party.

Published by: Northeastern University Press

Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-x

When I first arrived to teach at a so- called party school, I experienced a bit of culture- shock. Having previously taught at urban commuter colleges, I was unprepared for life at a large residential university located in an isolated college town. But as unnerved as I was on a personal level, as a sociologist and criminologist I was captivated by the unique student culture at my new ...

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pp. xi-xii

This book could not have been written without the cooperation and assistance of numerous students over the years, all of whom have provided me with invaluable insight and a much greater understanding of their lives outside of the classroom. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to all of the students who have shared quite candidly their anecdotal experiences, ...

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Introduction: Welcome to the Party School

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pp. xiii-29

Each year millions of young Americans head off to college with varying aspi-rations and expectations. For some students, going to college is about learning new ideas; for others it is about training for a specific career; and for some it is a symbolic first step toward achieving the American dream of economic success. But for many students today, going to college is simply what young ...


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1 | Situating the Party School

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pp. 3-13

Today in the United States there are almost three thousand four- year post-secondary institutions of higher education, enrolling over nine million un-dergraduate students pursuing bachelor degrees, and more than two million graduate students.1 American universities and colleges range in size from fewer than a thousand students to over fifty thousand students enrolled at ...

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2 | Contextualizing the Party Lifestyle

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pp. 14-24

As described in the previous chapter, American universities and colleges are vastly diverse in terms of size, location, on- campus student housing, sports orientation, and even crime prevalence. Though serious crime is infrequent at most U.S. universities and colleges, minor crime related to alcohol and drug consumption can be rather common at residential universities, espe-...

Party University: A Case Study

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pp. 25-55

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3 | Introducing Party University

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pp. 27-37

Amid the thousands of universities and colleges in the United States today sits Party University (PU), a so- called party school recognized as much for its active party scene as for its academic programs. As described in previous chapters, the party school is typically a large public university with a sprawl-ing residential campus, and is typically located in a geographically isolated ...

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4 | Playing Hard: Students' Drinking and Drug Routines

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pp. 38-53

Although students party (i.e., drink and use drugs) to some degree at al-most all residential universities and colleges, nowhere do as many students party, and to such extremes, as at so- called party schools. Students party more at these schools due, in part, to their location in an isolated college town with easy access to alcohol and little else to do. Students also party more ...

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5 | Getting Wasted: Extreme Party Rituals and Risks

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pp. 54-72

As outlined in the previous chapter, students’ participation in the party subculture varies, with 21 percent of students using no alcohol or drugs (i.e., non- partiers), 25 percent of students partying moderately (i.e., light partiers), 40 percent of students partying frequently (i.e., heavy partiers), and 14 percent of students partying excessively (i.e., extreme partiers who drink ...

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6 | Flirting with Danger: Criminal Consequences of the Party Subculture

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pp. 73-98

In addition to increased risk of illness and injury, as described in the pre-vious chapter, participation in the party subculture increases students’ vulnerability to crime victimization. Intoxication dulls a person’s awareness of lurking dangers and slows reaction time, making them “attractive targets” for victimization. Participation in the party subculture also increases students’ ...

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7 | Party Disturbances: Secondhand Harms to Campus and Disturbances

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pp. 99-114

As seen in the previous chapter, students who participate in the party sub-culture are at increased risk for many types of crime. Students who party are also more likely to engage in criminal misconduct themselves, causing a variety of problems for the campus and community. Previous studies, including the PRI documentary #1 Party School (see chapter 2, p. 22), have ...

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8 | Rationales in Defense of the Party Subculture

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pp. 115-131

As conveyed in previous chapters, more than half of PU students experience some type of crime victimization (e.g., burglary, vandalism, larceny theft, attacks/fights, rape, unwanted sexual contact) while at college, and more than three- fourth of students experience secondhand harms (e.g., property dis-ruption, noise, verbal harassment) caused by the extreme drinking and drug ...

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Conclusion: Sobering Reflections of the Party School

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pp. 132-150

From drinking games at tailgates to after- party pranks and couch burn-ings, students at Party University (PU) and other party schools across the nation engage in unique and often extreme intoxication rituals that have become as much a part of their college lives as attending classes, taking tests, and graduating. Certainly, life at a party school can be a lot of fun. ...


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pp. 151-200


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pp. 201-210

Works Cited

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pp. 211-220


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pp. 221-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781555538200
E-ISBN-10: 1555538207
Print-ISBN-13: 9781555537951

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law
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OCLC Number: 847948994
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Party School

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • College students -- Alcohol use -- United States.
  • College students -- Drug use -- United States.
  • College students -- United States -- Social conditions.
  • College environment -- United States.
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