PROVO — Brigham Young University started landing on top of the Princeton Review's stone cold sober rankings two decades ago, well before incoming BYU freshman Anna Monson, 17, was born.
For years now, she's watched cousins go to the school and annually pen proud posts — "The streak continues!" — about the ranking on Facebook.
On Monday, the Princeton Review made it official: BYU is the No. 1 stone cold sober school for the 20th straight year, meaning its students say they consume the least alcohol in the nation, and both the school and Monson are ready to celebrate.
BYU posted a video on Twitter with Studio C star Stacey Harkey announcing that golden tickets will be hidden under the labels on bottles of BYU chocolate milk this school year. Anyone who finds a golden ticket will get a free year's supply of the stuff. "To celebrate," the school's Twitter account added, "we're going to give away a ridiculous amount of chocolate milk."
"I'll pull off the labels," Monson said, "but can I have strawberry milk?"
She could still change her mind. New student orientation doesn't even begin until Aug. 31, and classes start Sept. 5. After all, for a dozen years the university has made the point that its students have a chief go-to drink far different than that of most other colleges. The school's news release Monday included the message, "Raise a glass of chocolate milk in celebration!"
In fact, over the 20 years since BYU first began to finish first, the campus has sold more than 5 million gallons of chocolate milk.
That's enough to fill three football field-sized pools four feet deep, according to the university. At any given moment, more than 16,000 gallons of milk are on sale on campus.
The secret might be the recipe. Since 1948, the BYU Creamery has imported it from Switzerland.
Monson, who is from neighboring Orem, always wanted to attend BYU until she started high school. Then she wanted nothing to do with it. Last year, as a high school senior, she decided it was a fantastic option after all.
BYU's academic rigor, inexpensive tuition and proximity to home were larger factors in her decision, she said.
"Stone cold sober seems like frosting on the cake," she said, adding that "It's nice to know that I won't be tempted often to drink when I've chosen not to, or to go to parties where people are stumbling around with their senses of reason dampened by alcohol."
Research shows alcohol is used as a weapon in sexual assaults on American college campuses. For example, EDsmart reviewed statistics for the schools on the Princeton Review’s lists of religious and least religious schools. EDsmart found that 0.35 percent of students at the least religious universities experienced forcible sex offenses versus 0.01 percent of students at the most religious schools, a 3,400 percent increase at the least religious schools.
Harvard University is considering a ban on all fraternities, sororities and single-gender clubs starting in fall 2018 because the school's all-male social clubs have been blamed for problems with sexual assault and alcohol abuse, according to the Associated Press.
Early this year, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns and operates BYU, spoke on campus and decried alcohol culture.3 comments on this story
For youngsters like Monson and Alex Gold, 18, an incoming freshman from Pepperell, Massachusetts, BYU's 20-year streak begged a different question.
"What happened 21 years ago?" Gold said.
"Who had the title before we did?" Monson asked.
The answer. The Princeton Review can't find the records.
For now, Gold will continue to work on picking a major. And Monson will work toward a biology degree in the hope that it will help her land a spot in a graduate program to study insects.
"They're amazing," she said, "and I want to get rid of malaria."