Tuesday, August 23, 2005

UW-Madison #1 Party School: A Schulz Perspective

This morning around 8AM I was called by a writer from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram to talk about UW-Madison being #1 in the party rankings. I conversed with him about UW-Madison drinking and the alcohol climate while still half asleep. Hopefully I will not be verbally crucified by my friends and others when I return to my humble abode up north. Here is the article:

UW-Madison tops party school list
Tim Schulz knows drinking alcohol is ingrained in UW-Madison’s culture, with packed bars and house parties a common sight on weekends — especially during Badger games.

“Almost all the houses are throwing parties around the stadium,” said Schulz, an Eau Claire resident who will be a senior at UW-Madison this fall.

UW-Madison topped the list of the nation’s party schools Monday despite a decadelong effort by school officials to reduce its reputation for heavy drinking.

UW-Madison has ranked among the top party schools on the annual Princeton Review report in 13 out of the 14 years it has compiled the list and was No. 3 a year ago. Meanwhile, Brigham Young University was tops among “stone cold sober” schools for the eighth straight year.

Schulz, the son of Mark and Lynette Schulz, plans to graduate with a degree in economics. His sister Alison is going to be a sophomore when classes resume on Sept. 2.

While the administration opposes the ranking, Tim Schulz said the No. 1 ranking is a source of pride for many students.

Though the school has an association with drinking, he said it shows students have fun but also perform well enough to warrant high marks for UW-Madison in academic rankings.

UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley dismissed the report as “junk science that results in a day of national media coverage.” But the chairman of the campus student government said many students would take pride in the rank considering its other reputation as a top academic institution.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UW-Madison No. 34 among national universities in its annual survey last week.

“It just shows that we work hard, but we play hard also,” said Eric Varney, chair of the Associated Students of Madison.

The list — which is not affiliated with Princeton University — is based on on-line surveys of more than 110,000 college students and included in the Princeton Review’s “Best 361 Colleges.”

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

Schools often put down the list, while the American Medical Association has urged Princeton Review to cease putting it out, saying it legitimizes students’ drinking.

Lynette Schulz said the ranking as a top party school didn’t factor in to the family’s decision to have their children go to the same school her husband attended.

Still, she feels there is some basis for the rating.

“There is a lot of partying going on, and it doesn’t always make me real excited about it,” she said. “But it’s a good learning experience as well.”

Lynette Schulz and her son, Tim, agree the key to staying afloat at UW-Madison is to keep drinking in moderation and study as needed.

Robert Franek, who wrote the report “The Best 361 Colleges,” said students look for more than just a classroom experience when they pick a college.

“The mission is very simple — to provide information to make the college search palatable for a student and all of them to find a school that’s the best fit for them,” he said.

UW-Madison has long had a reputation for heavy drinking, ranking No. 3 this year for the amount of beer and hard liquor consumed. Still, the school touts its nine-year program to cut down on binge drinking they it says had led to a drop in students who drink to excess, fewer admissions to local detoxification centers and more freshmen who say they don’t drink at all.


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