IMAGE: University of Texas at Austin
Harry Cabluck  /  AP file
A banner welcomes students to the University of Texas at Austin campus Monday. Classes don't start until Aug. 30 but the university saw a bit of news by topping a list of the country's best party schools in an annual Princeton Review survey.
updated 8/21/2006 3:19:38 PM ET 2006-08-21T19:19:38

The Texas Longhorns earned another national title Monday, not for football but as the country’s best party school.

The University of Texas at Austin beat Penn State University, West Virginia University and last year’s winner, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the Princeton Review survey of 115,000 students at campuses around the country.

It topped the overall list — its first time atop the Princeton Review chart — by ranking second in the use of hard liquor, third in beer drinking and 13th in marijuana smoking.

For the ninth straight year, Brigham Young University was voted the most “stone cold sober” school.

UT spokesman Don Hale said campus leaders don’t take such rankings very seriously.

“I know there were a lot of good parties here after we won the national football championship, and I’m going to guess that a lot of the kids who filled out the survey remembered those parties,” he said.

Studying and unwinding
Student body president Danielle Rugoff said the school had a vibrant social scene even before the top ranking. With about 1,000 student groups, including more than 50 social sororities and fraternities, it’s easy to find a way to unwind after a long day of studying, she said.

“It’s such a unique environment,” said Rugoff, a senior and government major. “It allows for students to just live life to the fullest and have such a rich academic environment and rigorous academic program and still have an amazing time and enjoy being in college.”

The party school list is included in the Princeton Review’s “Best 361 Colleges” guide, which goes on sale Tuesday. The company is not affiliated with Princeton University.

It contrasts with U.S. News and World Report’s annual guide to “America’s Best Colleges,” where UT-Austin tied with four other schools in 47th place.

Rugoff said administrators and student leaders work hard to help students make good decisions about alcohol and drugs.

Drinking death
Despite those efforts, a freshman died of acute alcohol poisoning in December as a result of fraternity hazing.

Tests showed Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath’s blood alcohol level was 0.50 percent, more than six times the legal limit. University officials canceled Lambda Phi Epsilon’s status as a registered student organization until 2011 after an investigation found new members were expected to drink large amounts of liquor.

The author of the Princeton report, Robert Franek, said the lists are simply meant to provide more information for high school students.

“It’s simply finding that community both inside and outside of the classroom that I think is the challenge for many students,” he said.

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