Survey moves Ohio University to top of party-school list

Ohio University students socialize during High Fest in Spring 2011. | FILE PHOTO

After a year that saw a break from couch-burning during fest season, Ohio University administrators were disappointed by a report from Princeton Review that ranked OU as the top party school in the nation.

Ohio University bumped the University of Georgia down from its spot as the No. 1 party school in the U.S., according to the 2011 Princeton Review survey, which was released today. OU is nationally known for its Halloween street party and its spring fest season, which included couch-burning several times in the past few years, most recently in 2010.

However, OU administrators say this report, based on anonymous student surveys, does not accurately represent the current OU scene.

“I’m disappointed because I don’t think it’s reflective of the OU experience … the great academic programs we have here,” Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said. “I’m also disappointed because it doesn’t match trends we’re seeing on campus now.”

In 2006, OU implemented new policies regarding alcohol use, including mandatory alcohol intervention, fees, parent notification for students under age 21 and suspension for second-time offenders, according to information released from OU in response to the Princeton Review ranking.

OU also began requiring AlcoholEdu training for incoming students and began providing additional programming and education in an effort to reduce alcohol abuse among students.

Since the 2005-06 academic year, alcohol-related judicial violations have decreased by 49 percent. There also has been an 8 percent decrease in anonymous student reports of high-risk drinking behavior since 2007, according to OU’s release.

“That’s not us looking over their shoulders,” Lombardi said. “It’s completely anonymous.”

OU’s data also indicate that students are attending parties and drinking at parties less often.

Lombardi sent an email to OU students’ parents today reflecting these statistics and urging parents to discuss high-risk behavior with their children.

Princeton Review compiles the information from its reports from anonymous student surveys. A total of 122,000 students from more than 370 U.S. colleges responded to the survey — on average, about 330 students responded from each campus.

“There’s no validity to it; that’s the problem,” Lombardi said, adding that OU’s Office of Institutional Research has not provided OU student email addresses to the Princeton Review for three years.

OU’s drinking data, in addition to new programs the university is creating, contradict the report, which Lombardi said might send the wrong message to incoming students.

“I’m concerned that if students out there use this ranking and come to OU because it’s a party school, they’ll end up sitting in my office, getting suspended and saying, ‘How can you suspend me? It’s the No. 1 party school,’” Lombardi said.

The University of Georgia now is at No. 2 on the list, followed by the University of Mississippi, the University of Iowa and the University of California Santa Barbara.

During the 2010-11 school year, 59 percent of OU student code of contact violation complaints involved alcohol.

“I’m not saying we don’t have issues; we do. We still have our battles. But we’re going in the right direction in terms of reducing alcohol use, and this survey doesn’t show that,” Lombardi said. “We’re keeping our foot on the gas. We know we’re moving in the right direction, no matter what the Princeton Review rankings say.”

—The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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