When The Princeton Review releases its annual list of America's best party schools, Pennsylvania State University is usually on it.
This year, Ohio University topped a list that also included the University of Georgia, University of Mississippi, and University of Iowa -- for the full list at the Best Colleges blog, click here -- but even after all the controversy that has surrounded Penn State since the revelations about Jerry Sandusky, the school has managed to hang on to the No. 7 spot.
The same university administrators who facilitated a sexual predator were at the helm when Penn State was named the No. 1 party school in 2009, No. 3 in 2010, and No. 7 in 2011.
Even though Penn State was recently named the No. 2 party school of the past decade by the Best Colleges Online site, it might be a surprise to some that PSU managed to stay on the list at all, much less coming in No. 7. A couple of reasons could be that the school was credited in June with having the largest Greek community and was granted the bragging rights for consuming the most beer.
The Princeton Review assembled the list by polling more than 120,000 students across the country. Jerry Sandusky was arrested last November, but, based on the most recent list, it doesn't seem to have hampered Penn State students' willingness to celebrate. The questions asked in the poll include the following:
How widely used are beer, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs at your school?
How big is frat life at your school?
How many hours do you study each day?
When Penn State was accorded the top honors among party schools in 2009, the popular public-radio program This American Life did a whole show in State College. Among other things, the show captured what it was like at fraternity parties. It also included interviews of police officers whose responsibility it was to try to curb the drinking culture. One of the most powerful moments came early in the hourlong program, when a student said she loved Penn State so much because they handle everything the right way. (You can find the show here.)
Creator Ira Glass and producers of the show returned to Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky story erupted to find out how things had changed. Producer Sarah Koenig actually lived in State College and compared the impact of the child rapes and subsequent cover-up to 9/11. (That show is also available for streaming on This American Life's website.)
One State college resident interviewed during the second program attributed the willing ignorance that pervaded many of Joe Paterno's supporters to the football-centric mind-set of the whole town. The show was recorded shortly after the now-infamous student riot that took place after Paterno was given his walking papers.
The second program also reran a segment from the 2009 show that had Glass and Koenig walking around the town on a weekend night and seeing countless people vandalizing property. Koenig speculated that if the plants grew particularly well in one area of her yard, it was because students urinated in that spot.
All things considered, it's hard to tell whether or not Penn State should be proud.