BYU owns this label: still stone-cold sober

Guide says it's No. 1 for 10th straight year

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 21 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Hey, everybody at Brigham Young University, it's time to party like it's 1998.

BYU style, that is — no beer, no liquor, no marijuana.

Sprite and study hall, anyone?

For the 10th straight year, BYU is the nation's No. 1 stone-cold sober school, according to the Princeton Review's annual college guide "The Best 366 Colleges," released today.

Don't expect any campus parties to celebrate a solid decade of super-hyped sobriety. First, there are no fraternities or sororities at BYU. And second, the students are gone, replaced this week by their parents, alumni and other post-collegiate members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more than 20,000 of them, who have invaded the campus for the annual Education Week.

BYU has dominated the stone-cold category since 1998, when Bill Clinton was president, BYU-Idaho was still known as Ricks and Harry Potter was just 12 years old and in his second year at Hogwarts.

How does the Princeton Review come to this conclusion, a source of pride for alumni and students, about BYU?

The rankings come from BYU students themselves, said Robert Franek, editorial director of "The Best 366 Colleges." The Princeton Review surveys students at each school every three years. It last approached BYU students in 2005, Franek said, though students can go to www.princetonreview.com anytime and fill out a survey online. Over the past three years, the Princeton folks surveyed 120,000 college and university students.

"This is a testament to students telling us what their experiences are both inside and outside the classroom," Franek said. "This isn't the opinion of the Princeton Review."

The stone-cold sober ranking is based on five questions in the survey. Students rank their own schools on a scale of 1 to 5 for four of the questions:

How widely is beer used at your school?

How widely is hard liquor used at your school?

How widely is marijuana used at your school?

How popular are fraternities/sororities at your school?

The survey says ... "Students are very religious," there is "very little hard liquor" used, "(almost) no one smokes" and there is "very little drug use," according to the two-page section on BYU in "The Best 366 Colleges."

BYU was ranked No. 1 in lowest use of beer and liquor, and second in lowest reported use of marijuana, with the Air Force Academy ranked No. 1.

The findings are no surprise, of course. Each BYU student agrees when he or she applies to the school to abide by its Honor Code, which proscribes the use of alcohol or drugs.

"BYU has been unapologetic that those options don't exist at their campus," Franek said.

The fifth question that factors into the stone-cold sober ranking — How many out-of-class hours do you spend studying each day? — asks students to choose a number between one hour or less of studying per day to five hours or more.

The same five questions also determine which school is ranked the nation's No. 1 party school. This year, it's West Virginia, which oddly enough was last No. 1 in 1998.

In between, though, the top party school ranking has skipped around. Franek said the reason is that the negative publicity that comes with the ranking leads many schools to take action.

"The schools on our party-school list, whether they agree with us or not, recognize that alcohol and drug use is an educational issue," he said. "The University of Colorado, which topped our list a few years ago, very aggressively reached out to students."

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