August 1, 2011
Dear OHIO Parents and Families,
Today, The Princeton Review released its annual 'party school' rankings list. I am extremely disappointed that this year OHIO was placed at the #1 spot. I do not believe that this is an accurate reflection of the OHIO University experience or the sentiment expressed by the majority of our students.
The first thing to note is that this ranking is arbitrary and unscientific. The information is obtained anonymously from students via an electronic survey. The survey respondents total only 122,000 of the 12.1 million students enrolled in public or private 4-year institutions across the country. According to The Princeton Review, each campus is likely to have as few as 300 student respondents. In our case, that equates to less than 1.5% of our student population.
In a release from The Princeton Review, you can see details about how they arrive at the rankings they have publicized, http://www.princetonreview.com/college/college-rankings.aspx.
Though Ohio University has received notoriety from some large, off-campus street-festivals, we continue to work closely with the City of Athens to minimize the dangerous behavior that may occur. As I have repeatedly stated to each student who enrolls at Ohio University, students are accountable for their behavior both on and off campus. It is also important to note that more than half of all the arrests that take place at these street festivals are students from other universities who come to Athens to visit and partake in this behavior.
Ohio University does not tolerate high-risk or underage drinking behaviors. Each year students make choices that cause them to be suspended for alcohol or drug violations of our Code of Conduct. The Princeton Review can create a false sense that we are not concerned or do not hold students accountable. It is important for you to know that we are concerned about this high-risk behavior and continue to proactively address and respond to the consequences of this behavior.
This data is not representative of our students. Other research efforts by Ohio University, such as our Alcohol and Other Drug survey and our Student Involvement Study, have shown recent decreases in the incidence of alcohol consumption.
Additionally, the Princeton Review ranking can overshadow the many efforts we have undertaken on campus to educate students about the dangers of high-risk behavior. Several of these initiatives are listed below:
- Since 2005, we require a mandatory alcohol education program (AlcoholEdu) for all incoming new students.
- We provide peer-to-peer education through Greek Life organizations, Learning Communities, first-year seminars, and in the residence halls
- We continue to be involved in a social media campaign entitled "Stop at the Buzz," which focuses on harm reduction and education.
- We have implemented a strict two-strike alcohol policy for those who use alcohol in an illegal or irresponsible manner. This includes parental notification for those under the age of 21.
- We conduct an Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) survey every two years to gain information about high-risk behaviors of our students.
- Beginning this fall, we will increase our judicial fines/fees for alcohol and other drug infractions from $100 to up to $200-250.
- Beginning this fall, for each alcohol or drug offense, students found in violation will be mandated to complete hours of service to the Ohio University and/or Athens community.
As a result of these initiatives, I'm pleased to report that we have seen significant positive progress in the behavior of our students, including:
- A 49% decrease in the number of alcohol-related judicial violations since 2005-06.
- A 18% decrease in the number of first-year students who report high-risk drinking behaviors since 2007.
- An 8% decrease in the number of overall students who report high-risk drinking behavior since 2007.
We have made significant progress in changing the culture at Ohio University. The Princeton Review ranking does not reflect this progress or the expectations we have of our students. Please support our continued efforts by using this opportunity to have an honest conversation regarding high-risk behaviors with your sons and/or daughters.
I appreciate your continued support of our efforts, and our collective role in helping to promote an excellent experience for all Ohio University students.
Dean of Students