THE PROFESSIONALS AND THE AMATEURS. One University of Wisconsin legend claims that Playboy once omitted Wisconsin from the list of top party schools, noting the unfairness of ranking the professionals with the amateurs. It's a great story, even though it's made up, and it puts $86,000 in fines in context.

Madison Police Officer Brian Chaney, who was involved in breaking up the party at a two-story brick house on N. Brooks St., said officers were more concerned about safety than racking up fines. The problem was that the hosts didn't work with the officers.

The three students were charging most partygoers $5 per cup to get in and get drinks from half-barrels, according to police. Many of the attendees were freshmen in just the second weekend of classes.

There's even a professional mixed in.

One of the three students [fined] is Kevin Tracy, 20, of St. Paul, who starred in MTV's "College Life." Tracy was one of several UW-Madison students given cameras to document their lives.

On the show, Tracy got kicked out of the residence halls after repeated violations, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

I'm not enthusiastic about the entertainment business selling the "Animal House" version of college life. I suspect, however, that when we convinced Wisconsin that if we were old enough to be drafted, we were old enough to buy a beer, we had the right idea. The risk of fines for underage drinking has a lot, economically, in common, with the pay-one-price system at amusement parks, in that the best response to the price is to consume intensively.

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