Monday, August 9, 2010

Princeton Reviews Encourage Illegal and Dangerous Behavior

According to a Portland Press Herald article, the well-known Princeton Review Top Party Schools list for the 2010-2011 academic year has been released-- and this year the University of Georgia ranks in at #1. Despite increasing police force on underage drinkers since 2006, the University of Georgia is up from its #4 spot in last year’s ratings, and school officials are finding it hard to believe that they would acquire this title. The University says they take student alcohol education programs seriously, and they find it very disconcerting and surprising that their efforts aren’t presenting the results they had hoped for.

However, while many are looking at colleges to blame for underage drinking and partying, it’s surprising how little responsibility is being put on the Princeton Review itself for reporting and reinforcing the idea that the purpose of college is heavy drinking.

Why does there need to be a ranking list? Promoting where the best party schools “rage,” and where the “reefer madness” occurs, as described on Princeton’s website, is not only hurtful to the school’s reputation itself, as Georgia feels, but it is also a risky venture. Glorifying and perpetuating the idea of “party schools” as a positive thing only encourages high school kids to look for schools where drinking is heavily prevalent. College drinking puts students at risk of death, injury, assault, academic problems, and more, according to College Drinking Prevention statistics.

So, how are students or colleges truly gaining from the publication of such material? The catchy titles and popularity of the Princeton rankings actually encourage the illegal and dangerous behavior and can attract students to these colleges purely for non-academic reasons.

Creating a sense of shame associated with making it to the top party school position may further help move forward college efforts to reduce and prevent high-risk drinking, and at the same time we should always be pushing for college administrations to curb the drinking activities and tone down the party atmosphere on campuses. But maybe we should also be looking at the instiller of the problem itself—cultural expectations.

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