The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Guide to varsities that make the party grade

Washington, Aug. 24: The sight of drunk, stoned or otherwise unruly students is familiar to anyone who lives near a university campus.

What is different about America is that would-be students are given a comprehensive guide, based on a survey of 110,000 existing college members, telling them where to find the top “party schools”.

The publication of the Princeton Review’s annual guide to the best 361 colleges yesterday triggered a sense of fear and loathing among university heads that will be familiar to many of their students suffering from the after-effects of over-indulgence.

This year’s winner of the overall best party school award was the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which, despite its good academic reputation, has been in the top 10 for 13 of the past 14 years.

John Wiley, chancellor of UW-Madison, dismissed the report as “junk science that results in a day of national media coverage”.

However, the chairman of the campus government said that many students would take pride in the ranking. The university has made strenuous efforts to clean up its image, publishing a guide for members on how to throw a safe house party, while parents receive a letter from Wiley giving a warning that “high-risk drinking” is one reason why their children may not succeed.

Alumni of UW-Madison, which says that there were fewer admissions last year to local detoxification centres, include Charles Lindbergh, an aviator, Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect, and the American Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and his wife, Lynn.

One of the problems may be that it is located in a big beer-brewing state that has America’s worst binge-drinking problem.

Yet the difficulties are not confined to just this corner of the US. Last year, five university students died of alcohol poisoning, while a further 1,400 are killed each year from related incidents such as drunkdriving, fighting and falling out of windows.

There are about 15.6 million students in the US, including almost 600,000 foreign citizens, a growing number of whom are British.

The Princeton Review, which is read widely by students deciding where they will apply this autumn, also includes categories for the standard of teaching, best value, and the quality of dorms. But it is the “party” categories that inevitably receive the greatest attention.

The top party school rankings are based on survey responses regarding alcohol and drug use, hours of study and the number of students in fraternities and sororities.

Sub-category winners included Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The school won the Reefer Madness (cannabis use) award, as well as the Birkenstock-Wearing, tree-hugging, clove-smoking vegetarians category.

It has a liberal philosophy that allows students to explore interdisciplinary studies without rigid requirements or having to worry about grades.

The top university for the “Fraternity and Sorority Scene” was DePauw University in Greencastle where no fewer than 71 per cent of its students belong to these social clubs.

George Bush was a notoriously hard-drinking “frat boy” while at Yale. When he revisited the university after becoming President, a section of his speech that mentioned how being followed into town by police cars with their sirens wailing had reminded him of old times was deleted before being delivered.

Yale does not make it on to any of the top 20 party lists.

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