Princeton Reviews ranks UMass Amherst as one of top Party schools

By Dan O'Brien

If you like to party, smoke pot and don?t like to study, the Princeton Review suggests the University of Massachusetts Amherst might be the school for you.

But not everybody?s happy about the Review?s findings. UMass News Director Ed Blaguszewski calls the findings ?foolishness.?

The Princeton Review?s Web site, which helps potential college students get into the schools best suited for them, released its annual ?Best 361 College Rankings? list on Aug. 24.

UMass Amherst tops the list for certain categories such as the largest ?party school,? the most ?unsightly? campus and ?students who (almost) never study.?

Here is a list of how the Princenton Review rated UMass:

– #3 Long Lines and Red Tape

– #3 Students Dissatisfied with Financial Aid

– #9 Students Who (Almost) Never Study

– #9 Party Schools

– #13 Reefer Madness

– #20 Campus is Tiny, Unsightly or Both

Blaguszewski says UMass officials were quick to dismiss the rankings when they were released Aug. 23.

?It really is junk science and there?s no basis scientifically to come to that conclusion, based on how they conduct that survey.?

Officials at the Princeton Review, which is not affiliated with Princeton University, say they surveyed 300 students from each college and university featured.

Blaguszewski says there are 24,000 undergraduates at UMass, which means only one percent of the student population was included in the survey. Princeton Review admits that the 300 students went to the group?s Web site on their own to answer survey questions.

Nevertheless, Princeton Review officials are defending their survey.

?This is a ?Consumer Reports?-style survey,? said Robert J. Franek, author of ?The Best 361 Colleges? in a statement Aug. 23. ?The thoughts and opinions of 110,000 students from 361 of the best colleges in the country should not be discounted.?

?This is a self-serving collected sample,? Blaguszewski said. ?It may be a selection of the populous that is very interested in partying.?

UMass has been trying to shed its ?Zoo Mass? party image for years, but riots surrounding sporting events recently haven?t helped the University regain its reputation as a prestigious learning institution.

Student reaction to the survey is mixed.

?I do think it?s a party school,? said Adam Simon, a senior Criminal Justice major. ?Whether students party or not, they know what kind of school it is.?

?I think [UMass] is only a party school if you put yourself into that environment,? said Lynna Lon, a senior Economics major who added that she chose to live in the Central Residential Area to find a less party-oriented atmosphere.

?If you live in Southwest, most likely you?ll party,? she said.

?I don?t think it?s accurate,? said Maxine Dube, Associate Speaker of the UMass Student Government Association. ?They surveyed such a small amount of people.?

Blagusewski assures students that UMass does not try to overlook alcohol related issues. The University just received a federal grant to look into the issue last month.

?It doesn?t mean we don?t take seriously issues related to alcohol abuse and partying,? Blagusewski said.

In terms of the accuracy of reviews like the Princeton Review, he says there?s little UMass can do to combat these types of surveys.

?These [types] of surveys have just proliferated,? he said, ?You can?t control what they do.?

UMass was not the only local college to receive ?high? marks on the ?Best 361 College Rankings;? Hampshire College received a number of rankings as well.

Here?s how Hampshire stacked up:

– #1 Reefer Madness

– #1 Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians

– #4 Students Most Nostalgic for Bill Clinton

– #4 Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis

– #6 Class Discussions Encouraged

– #7 Intercollegiate Sports Unpopular or Nonexistent

– #7 Dodge Ball Targets

– #12 Nobody Plays Intramural Sports

– #18 Most Politically Active

– #18 Long Lines and Red Tape

Other Five Colleges received a number of rankings as well, including Mt. Holyoke, which received #4 Diverse Student Population, #5 Gay Community Accepted, #9 Most Beautiful Campus and #13 Best College Library.

Amherst College received #11 Happiest Students, #13 The Toughest College to Get Into and #13 Best Overall Academic Experience for Undergraduates.

For a full list of the Princeton Review?s ?Best 361 College Rankings,? check out www.princetonreview.com.