The Times West Virginian

September 27, 2013

National lists of party schools done for fun but not favor for WVU

Times West Virginian

— West Virginia University’s reputation as a party school lives on.

WVU tops Playboy’s list of Top Party Schools of 2013, the magazine said Wednesday. Playboy has published the list for eight years, and it’s the first time WVU has been No. 1.

Playboy cited two big annual parties at West Virginia — FallFest and St. Patrick’s Day.

The gatherings are when “thousands of strapping Mountaineers take to the streets to major in booze-fueled debauchery and minor in public disturbance,” the magazine said.

Another factor was the reaction in Morgantown after WVU’s 48-45 win at Texas last October that gave the Mountaineer football team a 5-0 record.

There were fires, mobs, property destruction, and interference with emergency responders and law-enforcement officials. Crews arriving on scene were met with aggressive crowds of up to 1,000 people who threw debris, rocks and even lit firecrackers. Five were arrested, including four WVU students.

“The locals call Morgantown a drinking town with a football problem,’’ Playboy said. “We call it a seven-year plan with the possibility of parole.”

Well-known schools make up the Playboy top 10. The rest of Playboy’s list behind WVU includes University of Wisconsin, University of Colorado, University of Southern California, Florida State University, University of Texas, Louisiana State University, University of Georgia, Arizona State University and University of Maryland.

The Playboy top ranking is not WVU’s first when it comes to being thought of as a party school.

Last year, WVU was back on top for the first time in five years, bumping off Ohio University to reclaim its title as the nation’s No. 1 party school on the list announced by The Princeton Review. WVU was also No. 1 in 2007 and 1997, and it’s been among the top 20 party schools 12 times in the 21 years the rankings have been published.

WVU also ranked No. 1 in the “Lots of Beer” category.

We know the rankings are compiled in fun. Visit virtually any university and its thousands of young people in their late teens and 20s, and you’ll find no shortage of some craziness to go along with stories of students working hard to make their lives better.

WVU officials have responded that schools on party-school lists are “mostly large, public universities with strong academic and research profiles, as well as highly successful athletic programs.”

At the same time, they are serious about WVU’s national reputation.

Following the incidents after last year’s Texas game, WVU President Jim Clements said that “we cannot and will not tolerate it. These actions are dangerous. And they diminish the successes of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

WVU, with its 2012 move to the Big 12, has made a major push to make the sports venues more friendly for fans of the Mountaineers and their opponents.

West Virginia University, in its mission statement, declares that its focus “is to provide high-quality programs of instruction at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels; to stimulate and foster both basic and applied research and scholarship; to engage in and encourage other creative and artistic work; and to bring the resources of the university to all segments of society through continuing education, extension and public service activities.”

An image as a party school — deserved or undeserved — does nothing to help attain those worthy objectives.

Last year’s Playboy winner, the University of Virginia, completely fell out of the top 10 this year.

We won’t complain if WVU follows suit in 2014.