SU students return to Princeton Review's top-ranked party school

The No. 1 party school status elicits mixed reactions ranging from raves about positive party experiences to concerns about what the new title will mean.

Syracuse University knows how to party according to the Princeton Review — and according to some of its approximately 15,000 undergraduate students.

Marshall Street-area bars, University Neighborhood house parties and one-time events like MayFest make SU a college party hot spot, students said, and nabbed their university a No. 1 ranking in the annual collegiate superlatives this year. This top ranking follows a No. 5 ranking last year and a No. 10 ranking for 2013.

"I got that email from Chancellor Kent and I was a little bit skeptical."
- Brett Coneeny

Late-night entertainment for freshmen and sophomores sometimes differs from that of their junior and senior classmates. While senior Haley Klein said she favored Chuck’s Cafe on South Crouse Avenue for a night out, 19-year-old junior Darvin Ogletree said he sticks to more easily accessible house parties. There, a good DJ and familiar faces make for a good party, he said.

Senior geography major Shaye Weldon said she also looks for people she knows when she goes out, although that tends to be fellow members of campus organizations such as the Syracuse University Outing Club. “I’m in the outdoors club, and we really like to party ... if we’re 21,” she added quickly. “So we have a lot of gatherings and potlucks and tasty beverages there.”

Weldon said other clubs — like the Triathlon Club — don’t party quite so hard. And she tends to avoid fraternity parties. “I just don't like the connotation,” she said. “Plus they’re more VIP, it seems.”

For others, like Brett Coneeny, Greek life can mean a lot of late-night fun. The sophomore in Sigma Chi described SU’s party scene as a great time, specifically mentioning last year’s MayFest as the most fun he’s had at a campus party.


Although students agree there’s plenty of opportunity to party at SU, several questioned whether SU really does offer the best. “I’ve been to a few other schools, and I’ve had similar party school experiences at all of them,” said Mike Mahardy, a newspaper and online journalism senior who said he’s completed semesters at the University of Arkansas and in the State University of New York system.

Coneeny, too, said he wasn’t convinced SU students partied harder than colleges in the South or near beaches, for example.

David Soto, co-author of the Princeton Review’s “The Best 379 Colleges,” said the ranking is determined through data from online surveys submitted during the past three years. He said 130,000 students were surveyed across 379 colleges. While this averages out to 343 per campus, he said, oftentimes large schools like SU claim a greater percentage of surveys than small liberal arts schools with fewer total students.

Information on exactly how many SU students were polled was not available.

The somewhat ambiguous ranking metrics were referenced in an email to students from Chancellor Kent Syverud shortly after the Princeton Review rankings came out. The email, which explicitly stated that SU does not aspire to be a party school, left several students wondering what the title means for future parties. 

"When I first heard it, I was excited," Coneeny said about the ranking. "But then I got that email from Chancellor Kent and I was a little bit skeptical." 

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