Perennial UM 'party school' ranking continues

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – The University of Mississippi’s ranking as a top-tier party school seems to be as perennial as kudzu and, to its administrators, just about as welcome.
Education publisher Princeton Review named Ole Miss the nation’s third-ranked party school when it rated colleges in categories from campus life to academic strengths to cost versus value in “376 Best Colleges – 2012 Edition.”
Barbreshia Hale of Ruleville, who is participating in an Ole Miss summer program for high school students, said the ranking “makes me want to come here.”
Gjoko Dungevski, a journalism graduate student from Macedonia, said people shouldn’t read too much into the assessment.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Yes, I like to party, but I’m really here for my education to build on my career,'” he said.
Lou Zachos, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering, agreed.
“They party, that’s for sure. I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said. “I went to the University of Florida when it was known as a party school. It was fun, but I got a lot of work done. I think you take those ratings with a grain of salt.”
Despite its ongoing reputation as a hard-drinking school, Ole Miss has taken pains to decrease alcohol abuse by its students since a 2006 campus tragedy.
Scott Wallace, assistant dean of students, questions the Princeton Review methodology, which claims to have surveyed 122,000 students nationwide.
“I have never seen nor spoken with anyone from the University of Mississippi who has ever taken one of their surveys.”
Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said the party-school designation is a tiny slice of what Ole Miss is about.
“When I look at our Honors College, the placement rates in our professional schools, the rankings of the Business School and Pharmacy School and Accountancy School, the new programs being developed in the Journalism School, the number of scholars we have being recognized, being recognized as one of the safest campuses, that’s what I’m going focus on,” Reardon said. “I’m not going to pay attention to a novelty that comes out every summer.”
Not all of Ole Miss’ rankings in the “Best Colleges” publication were so controversial. Among its honors was being named one of the most beautiful campuses.
Princeton Review will make all the ratings available online in August.
errol.castens@journalinc.com