A Civic Project story
INDIANA — Beer-chugging, vodka-slugging, girls making out with drinks in hand, as hip-hop star Lil’ Wayne raps about sex, drugs and reckless abandon in the background. Search “IUP” on YouTube and one of the first videos that appears is a trailer showing these antics and more.
The Feb. 7 posting of “I’m Shmacked, the Movie: A weekend at Indiana University of Pennsylvania” shows that IUP’s reputation as a party school endures. Even students on the campus refer to IUP’s acronym as “I Usually Party.”
“I have always known IUP to be a party school,” said Mitchel J. Kanagy, an English major, during an interview in the IUP Oak Grove, April 12.
The YouTube video is not the first medium to bash IUP’s reputation.
Turn on the G4TV reality show “Campus PD” and the Indiana Borough police may be chasing IUP students who are suspected of illegal activities.
Look up IUP’s rankings on The Princeton Review, which publishes guides to higher education and provides rankings of the top 373 universities and colleges in the country annually.In November 2011, the publication reported that IUP students ranked their school as one of the 10 U.S. colleges with the “least happiest students.”
In spite of its reputation, IUP annually breaks enrollment records. Its record 2011 enrollment of 15,132 was up 8 percent from its then-record 2007 enrollment of 14,018.
Party reputations are common on college campuses across the country. The Princeton Review also publishes the top “party schools” in the country.
While IUP never has cracked the list, the increase in the number of alcohol-related offenses shows that IUP is far from a dry campus. In 2010, the IUP University Police reported 189 arrests on campus for alcohol-related charges, up from 171 arrests in 2008, a 10.5 percent increase.
University Police also reported increases in drug arrests. The department reported 54 arrests in 2010 on campus for drug-related charges, up from 30 the previous year, an 80 percent increase.
The 54 arrests in 2010 were also up from 51 arrests in 2008, a 5.9 percent increase.
The increases followed administrative efforts aimed at curbing drug and alcohol abuse on campus. In 2006, following high-profile cases of drug- and alcohol-related deaths and arrests, then-IUP President Tony K. Atwater created the President’s Commission on Reducing Student Substance Abuse to study ways to curb consumption of alcohol and drugs. The commission recommended a 12-step plan to “change a culture of high risk use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.”
In April 2011, the “Campus PD” camera crew followed the Indiana Borough Police Department as officers responded to student shenanigans around town.
The crew filmed for two weeks, with deadly results. On April 30, the final night of taping, a helicopter the show commissioned to film aerial shots of the community crashed just off campus.
A member of the technical crew died at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown 23 days after the crash, from complications of his injuries.
The “I’m Shmacked” producers saw IUP as a gold mine in their quest to document the party life at colleges across the country. Arya Toufanian, co-director and producer of the documentary series, told the IUP campus newspaper The Penn that the crew ended up with a lot more “hardcore” footage than they had intended to film.
The trailer video released on YouTube was “toned down,” according to Toufanian.
IUP’s party school image is not appreciated by all. Some students say the image is overblown and did not affect their decision to enroll.
Colin J. O’Brien, a 2011 IUP art education graduate, said he was drawn to IUP by the art department and the Robert E. Cook Honors College.
“I only found out about the party image when I told people I was going to IUP,” O’Brien said. “They would say, ‘I usually party, huh?’ which really bothered me since I really had no interest in partying.”
Emma A. Shaver, a 2011 IUP theater graduate, agreed.
“I came to IUP for the honors college,” Shaver said. “I had no idea what the f— I wanted originally. I had no idea about the image until orientation.”
Michelle S. Fryling, public relations director for IUP, issued a statement published in the campus newspaper The Penn on March 5. The “I’m Shmacked” video was “absolutely not a reflection of the behaviors of the vast majority” of IUP students, the statement read.
In a March 29 interview in her Sutton Hall office, Fryling said the reputational reverse trifecta of “Campus PD,” “I’m Shmacked” and Princeton Review came and went with no lasting impact on the university — few calls from parents, no complaints from donors or alumni and no comments from prospective students.
“We try to highlight the happy things around campus,” Fryling said.
Crispin Havener, a senior Communications Media major and journalism minor, is from Johnstown, Pa.
James Zackal, a senior journalism and communications media major, is from Perryopolis, Pa.
Additional reporting was contributed by Kelly Dumrauf, Ellen Matis and Allison Scrudato.
Sidebar: A presidential issue
By Crispin Havener and James Zackal
Increased focus on Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s party image was an issue during this year’s Student Government Association election, held March 28-29.
During a March 23 SGA debate, presidential candidates and finance and legal studies majors Stephen R. Hyduchak and Taylor R. Billman were asked to identify the biggest issue facing IUP.
Hyduchak said the school’s party image was its biggest issue. Hyduchak, who joined the debate held in the Hadley Union Building on-campus via Skype, said the “I’m Shmacked” video brought negative attention to IUP.
Hyduchak said he wanted to help shift the focus away from IUP’s party image and re-focus it on IUP’s academic achievements, according to reporting in the campus newspaper The Penn.
Billman said IUP’s biggest issue was the ongoing budget cuts proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett and adopted by the state legislature.
Election returns showed Billman beat Hyduchak by 54 percent to 46 percent.
Sidebar: For more information
For more information about this issue, contact the following sources:
IUP Campus Police
850 Maple Street
Indiana, PA 15705
IUP Media & Public Relations
Sutton Hall 314
Indiana, PA 15705
Phone: (724) 357-2302
Student Government Association
Center for Student Life
Pratt Hall, Room 303
201 Pratt Drive
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana. Pa. 15705
Phone: 724 357-2598
G4 Media, Inc.
5750 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (310) 979-5305
General Information Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Princeton Review
Director of Public Relations
The Princeton Review
111 Speen Street, Suite 550
Framingham, MA 01701
Phone: 1-800-2Review x 5657
Arya Toufanian and Yofray Ray
Directors / Producers