"We have seen very positive cultural shifts as a result of our policy,” he stated in an e-mail, "which has encouraged healthy discussion between students about alcohol, its impact and the importance of acting responsibly. The continued increase in student use of alternative transportation provides an illustration of this.”
SafeRide participation has already more than doubled since its first full school year, rising from 5,206 riders in 2005-06 to 12,790 through April of this school year.
Meanwhile, the number of DUI violations reported to the OU Student Conduct Office has slowly declined from 191 in 2007-08 to 172 last year to 75 last semester. The university-sponsored service to curb drunk driving may be getting too popular.
"People use SafeRide, very much so,” said Bailee Niles, a freshman from Longview, Texas. "I hear people call SafeRide, and it gets really backed some nights where they have to wait up to a couple of hours.”
Students say drinking picks up Thursday night, the unofficial start of the weekend, at private parties and at bars, especially on Campus Corner. Joey Reed, who works security at The Deli on Campus Corner, agrees.
"A lot of bars are supported pretty easily,” he said. "On Thursday night there are so many places that run specials to get more customers.”
The most popular Campus Corner spot for students may be Seven 47, a restaurant and bar that general manager Hunter Mankin said uses several means to curtail underage and binge drinking.
"We employ six to eight for our security staff, and we keep two at the front door checking every ID,” Mankin said.
"At any college campus in the nation, you’ll have kids trying to use false identification, but we work closely with the Norman Police Department.”
Still, everyone contacted by The Oklahoman
said OU is nowhere near the party school that other universities can be. Reed, the security man at The Deli, said he rarely encounters unruly binge drinkers except perhaps on football game nights — particularly if OU loses.
Colleyville, Texas, freshman Clare Neece said sororities discourage alcohol abuse and that the overall scene at OU "doesn’t seem like we’re outrageous.”
"I think OU’s campus is what I would expect every college to be,” Niles said. "It’s not like ‘Animal House,’ but OU is big, and a bigger campus is going to have more parties and opportunities.”