Universities in the Midwest enjoy their parties. Several schools host annual large-scale events for their students and communities, some of which have been problematic over the years due to binge-drinking and student-police confrontations.

At Indiana University, the Little 500 features weekend bike races where approximately 360 riders race in teams of four around a quarter-mile cinder track. The event draws thousands and caught the eye of the national spotlight; it was the host of MTV’s Spring Break several years ago.

The biggest races are Thursday through Saturday, featuring the Little 50 Run, the women’s bike race and the men’s bike race.

The week leading up to the Little 500 includes concerts and parties throughout campus, according to IU junior Adam Buckley. During the week, house parties and packed bars are a frequent occurrence, he added.

“The whole week is a party. It’s right before finals kick in and students blow off classes to go out; it’s a lot like Mifflin because of that,” Buckley said.

Buckley said the student-police relationship was tougher a few years ago when it was “very confrontational,” but this year’s event, the week of April 15, was more relaxed than it had been in years past.

“In the past there were people everywhere getting into arguments with the police, but it’s been better since then,” Buckley said. “Everyone’s just there to have a good time.”

The IU Student Foundation organizes the event and also offers up to $100,000 in scholarships for IU students, according to Associate Director Rob Rhamy.

The event, according to Rhamy, is “definitely a notorious student party.”

But riots in the early ’90s resulted in police and student confrontations and the IUSF cut back on the amount of advertising in order to localize and decrease attendance of the event, Rhamy added.

Since the disturbances in the ’90s, the student foundation stopped using the “Greatest College Weekend” logo for the event.

“Since that time we’ve been really wary about getting into things and have cut back marketing the event outside of Indiana,” Rhamy said. “We haven’t had problems since then and we’ve been trying and get attendance up again.”

According to Rhamy, this year’s event, which took place April 15 and 16, resulted in about 40 arrests by campus police and approximately 100 by Bloomington police.

“We’ve made partnerships with state police and campus police to make sure our needs are coordinated for that full event,” Rhamy said. “The message from the police is that they are not out to arrest students, they want to keep the event safe.”

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students enjoy the annual Oktoberfest celebration, a two-weekend festival with a week in between of festival events. The festival is a celebration of diversity and the brewing history of the city, according to the university’s Director of Public Relations Cary Heyer.

The event in recent years has turned more family-friendly as binge-drinking among college students became a point of concern in the community. From Sunday through Wednesday there is no drinking on the festival grounds with an emphasis on continuing to promote intolerance of binge-drinking, Heyer said.

Heyer added the city is “sensitive” to issues of public intoxication but does relax on the “open and carry” ordinances for alcohol containers on the festival grounds. Campus and city police work together during the event, but student “self-policing” has been a promotion by the university and others.

“Students can rein their friends in and take care of them, and generally their friends are more sensitive to them than the police,” Heyer said.

Heyer added that the community has acknowledged binge-drinking and they are focusing on controlling the student population where it is most prevalent.

In response, some student organizations have also added some other alternatives to the party.

“It’s like Summerfest with less music and more beer,” UW-La Crosse sophomore Brendon O’Shea said. “A lot people party in the streets.”

The festival grounds are located approximately 10 blocks from campus, but O’Shea said this doesn’t stop students from attending.

“It does get a little ridiculous,” O’Shea said. “But overall, the police are really strict on underage drinking, but they’re pretty much cool even when the students get kind of ridiculous.”

In lieu of holiday partying, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated the Friday before the holiday and is the university’s largest student party.

The bars in Urbana and Champaign open around 8 a.m. to serve students who rouse themselves out of bed to begin drinking green beer, UI junior Krista Nelson said. Many students wear shirts they make and celebrate by drinking throughout the day.

The event centers on bars, but apartments and house parties are popular around town, including in the Greek System.

Nelson said the police generally go through the bars checking for underage patrons but that the commotion doesn’t spur any serious problems.

“The police are always around … that’s usually okay because there’s never really any violence, it’s just more someone being insanely drunk,” Nelson said. “It’s a good holiday for students because it’s more laid back.”

According to Nelson, the Unofficial St. Patty’s Day party doesn’t center on a party in the street and students tend to stick in bars or house parties and drink all day.

“It’s more relaxed and spread out,” Nelson said. “Students go to the bars and it never really gets that crowded on the street.”