Discount Liquor: Economic Help or Moral Bust?

Knoxville (WVLT) - Each year, the Princeton Review surveys 65,000 students nationwide. Based on answers about alcohol and drug use, time spent studying outside of class and popularity of Greek systems, they compile a list of the nation's top 20 party schools. UT ranks 16th. But why? And is that designation appropriate since the school sits right in the middle of the Bible Belt?

We sent our Whitney Daniel out to campus to find some answers.

People here say the designation is right on. You can find a party on campus or drink specials here on the Strip almost any night of the week, but both bar owners and local religious leaders agree on one thing: It's not the school that draws itself that title, it's the people living and partying here.

"They have all these party places on the strip, and West Knoxville and North Knoxville," Ramzy Roback of Knoxville said.

School is in session, football is in season, and the party scene is in full swing.

"They bring a lot of excitement to the strip... help it come alive," Chris Epstein of BAR Knoxville said.

While students help keep the nightlife alive, drink specials help attract them to the bar.

"We have one-dollar Pabbt's Blue Ribbon, two-dollar vodka drinks and three-dollar jager bombs," Epstein said.

But with that extra incentive comes extra responsibility.

"Bartenders are trained to look for anybody who may have had too much to drink. Security's trained in the same way," Epstein said.

The University of Tennessee ranks 16th on The Princeton Review's Top Party Schools.

"Most kids put beer in their cereal for breakfast every morning," Roback said.

It's a title those who live here say is suitable.

"That's probably about right. I've been around the area for a very long time and kids have a good time when they come to UT," Church Street United Methodist pastor William Fowler said.

But with UT's location right in the middle of the Bible belt, is all this partying pushing the limit?

"I think they're flirting with the edge of over-imbibing, but, it's up to them to answer the question," Fowler said. "Not only is the vertical important, your personal relationship with God, but also the horizontal, your relationship with your fellow human being."

And that means how responsible and how irresponsible are we going to be?" Bar owners agree. They say it all boils down to personal and social responsibility.

"You don't need alcohol to have fun and we do throw a party that you don't need alcohol for," Epstein said. "It's not for everybody, but nobody's forcing anyone to come in these doors either."

Most bar owners we spoke with say they do take extra precautions like double checking ID's and limiting drinks, especially on nights when they're advertising specials or expecting more people in their establishments.