Top party school ranking not thrilling OU officials

Ohio University students party at Palmer Fest.

Ohio University has forged new ground. The Princeton Review announced earlier this week that its surveys of college students placed OU as the number one party school in the country for 2011.

While OU has gotten ranked as high as number two previously, in 2010 and 2005, this marks the first time that the school has gotten the number one ranking. We would use the verb "won" in that sentence except that some folks aren't crazy about the honor.

Following the announcement Monday, OU released a statement from Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi:

"We take seriously our responsibility to help our students succeed in all facets of their experience, including addressing high-risk behavior. We are disappointed in the party school ranking as it is not indicative of the overall experience of Ohio (University) students and does not match the data we have collected."

He said that in the past five years, OU has enacted programs and policy changes that have helped reduce instances of high-risk behavior at the school, including a 49 percent decrease in alcohol-related judicial violations and an 8 percent decrease in self-reported high-risk drinking by students.

In this latest edition, for 2011, the Princeton Review also ranked OU as number one in "lots of beer" and number two in "lots of hard liquor."

The school also got number six in "best athletic facilities"; number 11 in "most beautiful campus"; number 11 in "major frat and sorority scene"; number 12 in "students study the least"; number 12 in "best college newspaper"; and number 12 in "most accessible profs."

According to materials from the Princeton Review, these figures are generated by asking students who attend the universities to answer an 80-question survey in which they rate their own schools on various topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Some 122,000 students at 376 schools answer questions about everything from party atmosphere to financial aid to fire safety to quality of academics and administrators.

Joining OU at the top of the party school rankings, in order, is the University of Georgia (also in Athens!), the University of Mississippi, the University of Iowa, the University of California Santa Barbara, West Virginia University, Penn State University, Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Austin.

As some of these schools have stellar academic reputations, the party-school tag and quality of education obviously aren't mutually exclusive.

Meanwhile the top "stone-cold sober" schools, in order, were, one, Brigham Young University, Wheaton College, Wesleyan College, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, Calvin College, Grove City College, Pepperdine University and the City University of New York Brooklyn College.

OU got the most listings for any college in Ohio. As far as other schools getting top-10 rankings, Ohio Northern, in tiny Ada in northwest Ohio, got ranked number five in "least politically active students" and number 10 in "college town not so great." Case Western Reserve, in Cleveland, got ranked number seven for "least beautiful campus." Ohio State University got ranked number five for "best athletic facilities." The University of Dayton got number six in "jock schools." Kenyan College was ranked five in "professors get high marks," while Oberlin College hit number eight in "Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, clove-smoking vegetarians."

Rival Miami University in Oxford got ranked number six in "little race/class interaction," number nine in "financial aid not so great," and number 20 in "lots of beer." Finally, the College of Wooster pulled out number nine in "best college radio station."

No other Ohio school got a number one ranking, while OU pulled in two for "party school" and "lots of beer."

IN THE PAST, OU OFFICIALS have not been thrilled when the school has ranked high in various party-school rankings, including the oldest one, awarded most years by Playboy magazine. (OU didn't make Playboy's top 10 party schools when those rankings were released in April.)

On Monday, OU President Roderick McDavis sent a letter to faculty and staff addressing the issue. The remarks in that letter echoed the remarks sent out in the press release from Lombardi.

"We will continue to provide a student experience focused on academic achievement and healthy personal development," McDavis' letter stated.

Dean of Students Lombardi, in his press statement, said that the university encourages students to make smart decisions.

"We clearly voice our expectations to students, make them aware of the consequences for failing to do so, and provide education to help them make good decisions while they are at Ohio University," he said. "We have teamed with colleges and universities across the country to tackle this issue (high-risk drinking), and while we have made progress, we will continue our efforts to further reduce high-risk behavior on our campus."

Lombardi said that OU students are among the best and brightest in the country, as evidenced by their campus engagement and success in the classroom.

"We are proud of the accomplishments of our students and alumni, and we will continue to provide an exceptional student experience," he said.

THE PRINCETON REVIEW, WHICH isn't related to Princeton University, every year publishes the guidebook, "The Best 376 Colleges" (Random House). The rankings also appear on

The Princeton Review is an education services company involved in test-prep courses, classes, tutoring, books and other student resources.

In 2010, OU got number one in "lots of beer," number two in "party schools," number seven in "lots of hard liquor," number 17 in "great financial aid," number 19 in "students study the least," and number 20 in "major frat and sorority scene."

The party-school rankings go back to 1997, when the school first ranked number 12. Since then, it received number seven party school in 1998, number 14 party school in 1999, number 10 party school in 2000, and number 5 party school in 2004.

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