Thursday December 16, 2010

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Williams College has been named the 10th "druggiest" college in the country by the Internet news website, The Daily Beast.

The college is one of five New England institutions to be included in the top 10 of the Website's list that ranks 50 national colleges and universities as hotbeds for drug use.

The University of New Hampshire was ranked first on the list, followed by Northeastern University in Boston, Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., and the University of Maine.

Ranked fifth on the list was the State University of New York (SUNY) at Purchase followed by the University of Colorado at Boulder, SUNY at Oneonta, California State University at Monterey Bay and West Virginia University. James G. Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs at Williams College, said Tuesday the college questions the validity of the rankings, especially with three of the five factors being used in the exercise being based on statewide figures.

"Williamstown is as remote from the state population centers as is possible to be," he said.

He said Williams' ranking doesn't tell the college anything. "Our knowledge of the situation is much more local and direct than that," he said.

The Daily Beast said in a corresponding article to the "druggiest" college rankings that it determined the list by using available statistics beginning with College Prowler, an Internet student-review database, to determine the colleges and universities that had "drug scene" grades.


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It then gathered information on illicit drug, marijuana and cocaine use by state for people 18 to 25 years old from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' 2009 National Survey on Drug Abuse. The site also collected data from the U.S. Department of Education about the number of on-campus arrests for drug-law violations at each institution in 2009.

To determine the final ranking, the College Prowler grades were given a numerical value, which counted for one-third of each institution's final score. Drug-law violation arrests per capita of students per institution contributed to one-third of the score, and the final one-third was the drug-use rank.

According to the rankings, 24.41 percent of people 18 to 25 years old in Massachusetts use drugs regularly, 35.72 percent use marijuana regularly, and 6.36 percent use cocaine regularly. While Williams College received an A- from College Prowler -- meaning its drug scene isn't visible and students don't feel pressured into doing drugs -- it had 41 arrests on-campus for drug law violations in 2009 out of 2,141 students, according to the rankings.

Kolesar said the number of arrests included in the ranking doesn't correspond to any numbers he has found from Williams security or local law enforcement. Ranked 11th on the list after Williams was Ohio Wesleyan University, which had a drug-use grade of C-plus.