When Princeton Review released their annual rankings of American colleges and universities, one ranking stuck out to me, and probably you too: the University of Wisconsin-Madison found itself in the number one slot for top party schools in the nation. Suddenly I heard Lil Yachty reverberating inside my head: “We did it, we did it, we did it.”
Unsurprisingly, university officials had a divergent response, releasing a statement that included the quote, “high-risk alcohol use on campus remains a pressing public health concern that negatively impacts campus safety and (students’) academic progress and well-being.”
Wow, a buzzkill like that could sober up the entire student section at a late morning football game.
But, does the statement find its grounding in fact?
First, let us examine whether the behavior that garnered the distinction as the number one party school in the nation had an adverse impact on student health.
Well, according the Mens Fitness Magazine, Madison ranks as the number 13 fittest college in the country. Further, this summer we also received a Healthy Campus Award which recognizes those schools which demonstrate extraordinary commitment to health services and healthy living.
Taken together, these acknowledgements seem to disprove the notion that Madison’s high party ranking leads to a decrease in the health of the student body as a whole.
Moving on to campus safety. It is difficult to evaluate this issue by rankings due to the unavoidable variable of size: it is a basic fact that a school with a smaller population is more likely to be safe. To account for the size discrepancy, I have accumulated the safety rankings of all the Big Ten schools from Niche College Reviews.
UW finds itself sixth out of 12 schools in the Big Ten. But this ranking ignores the fact that Northwestern ranks ahead due to its small size. Additionally, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan all fall extremely close within the rankings. Northwestern and Purdue stand out as the two safest campuses, while Penn State comes in at third. But Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota should be thought of as in a three-way tie for fourth place.
These numbers highlight that with regard to safety, while Wisconsin can still strive to do better, we come out above average when compared to schools of similar size.
Finally, let us consider what the administration truly cares about: academic ranking. A study conducted at Barnard College found that inclusion on the list of top 20 party schools has zero statistical impact on academic ranking.
In fact, the only true statistical impact of inclusion on the list seems to have come from an increase in the number of in-state applicants. This likely derives from in-state high school students wanting to attend a school notorious for youthful decadence.
Ultimately, we can conclude that the university’s disproportionate response to the ranking was filled with false proclamations of an unhealthy campus, and an impeding demise in academic ranking.
The concerns expressed about safety of course hold merit, but to blame safety issues solely on alcohol seems to be a feeble attempt at shifting responsibility away from individuals and onto a culture of drinking which is rampant at every university. A true Badger understands they, as an individual, hold responsibility for their actions and don’t blame it on this culture.
So drink up Badgers, because our title defense begins now.