Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW party school ranking invites mixed reviews

As UW-Madison officials continue spending millions of dollars and hours trying to change the school’s reputation as a party school, a recent survey conducted by Princeton Review makes it seem this unofficial title will never change.

In the popular student survey, UW was again listed in the top 20 party schools, down one notch from last year to No. 10. Among the other top rankings that concern some UW officials are “reefer madness,” “lots of hard liquor” and “lots of beer.”

While some students argue that these titles are what makes UW great, Don Zeigler, deputy director of A Matter of Degree for the American Medical Association, warns the consequences may be harmful.

“There’s no question that the Princeton Review has been a great resource for years, but it’s not scientific and legitimizes drinking on campus,” he said.

“It gives students the false notion that alcohol is central to the college experience, and it perpetuates a negative norm of alcohol,” he continued.

Zeigler quoted a study by the Task Force on College Drinking, which found that about 1,400 college students are killed every year in alcohol-related accidents. He expressed concern over the wording of opposing categories, such as “lots of hard liquor” versus “stone-cold sober.”

“We don’t need this problem glamorized by the Princeton Review,” he said.

Conscious of negative publicity, numerous schools ranked in the party category have refuted the survey, but those at the Review said they will continue publishing the list.

“The only time we get criticism from schools is when they end up on a less favorable list,” said Erik Olson, senior editor of the Princeton Review college guide.

“They tend to especially attack our methodology, which has remained the same. One hundred percent of that list is from students. They are the real experts, and their opinion counts,” he added.

In fact, Olson said, some see the list as a public service. An Aug. 19 USA Today editorial said the party-school list can act as an encouragement for schools to clean up their acts.

“… the list shames schools into tracking down alcohol abuse,” the editorial said.
The editorial goes on to show that numerous schools which made the party list in the past have since carried out anti-alcohol-abuse campaigns.

An example is the University of Rhode Island, which was named the No. 1 party school from 1993 through 1995. The school has adopted an alcohol ban and is now off the list completely.

“By forcing schools to face up to their problem, Princeton Review is doing them — and their students — a favor,” Olson said.

However, many critics dismiss the lists completely.

Susan Crowley, director of Policy Alternatives, Community Education (formerly known as the RWJ Project), said she does not believe students take any of the rankings seriously.

“I would hope that the students see the Princeton Review for what it is — just a collection of anecdotes,” she said.

Olson insists the survey is not the problem.

“We agree binge-drinking is a problem, but we don’t agree if we stopped publishing, the list would go away,” he said. “We’re not making predictions — we’re reporting what already exists.”

UW junior Stacy Liscowski agreed with Olson and said UW students are mature enough to make responsible decisions about alcohol.

“Students on the UW campus are adults,” she said. “They realize that there is more to school than raging keggers.”

Liscowski pointed out UW’s presence in numerous positive lists, including “best libraries” and “most politically active.”

“There are a lot of categories that UW students should be proud of,” she said.

Princeton Review is a test-preparation and college-admissions service that publishes a “Best Colleges” guide each August. Over 100,000 students took this year’s survey.

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