Authorities say recent party ban, alcohol education helping IU students at Little 500

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Authorities from across the state are on patrol in Bloomington as the Little 500 festivities continue. The historic bike race, an Indiana University tradition every spring, also brings with it a reputation for heavy partying and excessive drinking, particularly by underage students.

To cut down on drinking, the university has been renewing its effort to educate students on the dangers of underage and excessive drinking. Furthermore, earlier this school year, the Interfraternity Council, which oversees men’s fraternities, imposed a three-month ban on all social activities, along with imposing new rules for Greek-sponsored events and parties.

But are those efforts making an impact on a hard-partying weekend like Little 500?

“For me, this is the first year being in a fraternity and this weekend was just insane," said IU junior Mark Braisted.

Braisted said he doesn’t think the efforts make a huge impact.

"No, I don’t think so,” said Braisted. “I think everyone just saves it up for this weekend."

But others, like sophomore Greg Vogt, said the efforts by Greek life leaders and campus officials are making a positive impact.

"It added a renewed sense of responsibility,” said Vogt.

He credits much of that feeling to the three-month social ban, imposed earlier in the school year.

"I think people knew there were some challenges that we as a Greek community were facing,” said Vogt, “and we've really tried to address those challenges so that Greek life can be sustainable in the future."

Law enforcement authorities also say they’re seeing positive effects. Indiana State Excise Police Lieutenant Travis Thickstun thinks recent efforts by the university are making a difference.

"In addition to what the fraternities have done, what the sororities have done in some of their educational efforts and their internal policies," said Thickstun.

He said most of the offenders they’ve dealt with during the past few days are out-of-towners.

"What we're coming across this weekend is people coming from other campuses around the state,” said Thickstun, “even outside the state…as far as Maryland and California over the last two days.”

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