Is the party over? Colleges try to shake off frat-boy image

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The Independent US

This prestigious publication annually lists the top 10 "party colleges" in the country alongside those institutions that rank highly in other areas such as education, teaching facilities and general quality of student life.

But the fun could soon be over. A number of colleges, stung by their habitual ranking in the party top 10, are trying to change their image and get off the list. The University of Florida in Gainesville is working with local bar owners and beer distributors to stop offering "drink-till-you-drop" specials while the University of Wisconsin now offers students a seemingly oxymoronic guide to throwing "responsible" house parties.

Meanwhile, at the University of Oklahoma officials are copying the example of Dean Vernon Wormer in Animal House who declared: "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life." Officials there have proposed strengthening city ordinances to close down known party houses.

"We're not prohibitionists," John Lucas, spokesman for the University of Wisconsin, told USA Today. "If we could get everyone to tone it down just a couple of drinks per night it would make a big difference."

The effort to clamp down on wild drinking has been spurred partly by colleges' concern about their image and partly out of concern about student deaths. Five students died in the US last year from alcohol poisoning while a reported 1,400 died in alcohol-related incidents including fights and falling from balconies.

The Princeton Review rejects suggestions that it is being irresponsible by publishing the lists, which are based on questionnaires completed by more than 100,000 students. "When schools try to rubbish The Princeton Review it is a matter of shooting the messenger," said Robert Franek, an editor. "We go direct to those people we consider experts - college students. There are 73 different questions and we ask them about everything.

"Their academic experience is part of that, but in addition to being a place they will study at for four years, a college is also a place where they live and we ask about everything that will affect their lives."

In addition to Wisconsin and Florida, colleges that have made the party school list at least three times since 2000 include the University of Mississippi in Oxford, the University of Texas in Austin and Ohio University.

Colleges where there appears to be no drinking include the Mormon-run Brigham Young University in Utah, the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and the devoutly Christian Wheaton College in Illinois.

THE TOP 10 'PARTY SCHOOLS'

1. University of Wisconsin - Madison

2. Ohio University - Athens

3. Lehigh University

4. University of California - Santa Barbara

5. SUNY at Albany

6. Indiana University - Bloomington

7. University of Mississippi

8. University of Iowa

9. University of Massachusetts - Amherst

10. Loyola University New Orleans

Source: The Princeton Review

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