AMA Pans Naming Best 'Party Schools'

College drinking graphic. Binge drinking, alcohol abuse, alcoholism. AP

The Princeton Review should stop publishing an annual ranking of top "party schools" because it ignores the risks of heavy drinking and offers a skewed view of college life, the American Medical Association says.

The college admissions and test-preparation company "should be ashamed to publish something for students and parents that fuels the false notion that alcohol is central to the college experience," said Richard Yoast, director of the AMA's Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.

The Review puts out its "Best Colleges" guide every August based on a survey given randomly to tens of thousands of students. Students rate their own schools in 63 categories, with the "party" designation based on consumption of alcohol and marijuana and other criteria. The result includes rankings in categories such as "Lots of Beer" and "Hard Liquor."

Yoast said it amounts to a careless exercise that legitimizes student drinking.

"Students who are looking for little more than a good time may be influenced by this ranking, and the 'party school' designation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," Yoast said.

Princeton Review, which is not affiliated with Princeton University, disputed the criticism and said the rankings would continue. This year's edition is due out Tuesday.

Last year, the University of Tennessee topped last year's list of party schools, followed by Louisiana State University, the University of California-Santa Cruz, Florida State University and the University of Colorado.

"We are simply reporting on the conditions that exist on these campuses," said Robert Franek, the company's editorial director. He said the Review ranks schools on academics and a wide array of other subjects, and would be negligent not to report on campus social life.

He noted that the guide also ranks the top-20 "Stone-Cold Sober Schools," where students say there is little drinking. Franek also said some schools have instituted changes to stem binge drinking after appearing on the list of top party schools.

Binge drinking is often described as four drinks within an hour for a female or five drinks in an hour for a male. A recent study estimated 44 percent of college students admit to binge drinking, and nearly one-fourth of those binge frequently.
  • Brian Dakss

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