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Ohio University students dancing at the Y2K Millennium Dance Party Event at The Union in Athens, Ohio, Sept. 9, 2023.

Students discuss: is OU still a party school?

When Ohio University is brought up in conversation, most people envision raging parties, bars filled to maximum capacity and a population of hungover students with another party lined up for the following night. Over the years, people have traveled from all over the country just to experience the infamous Halloween block party or one of the iconic Fest Weekends. In 2019, Barstool Sports ranked OU as #13 on its list of top party schools in the country, and Niche predicts that OU will be #14 on that list in 2024. 

Although almost every student in Athens could cite a time when OU was written off as just another party school, some students would argue that the age of OU being one of those schools is coming to an end. Ella Amiet, a sophomore studying psychology, believes that OU is less of a party school than in past years. 

“(Administration is) doing a lot more to…cut back a little bit on…irresponsible or dangerous things that can happen as a result of parties,” Amiet says. “I know that the wristbands at Halloween are kind of new…I’m assuming there were a lot less restrictions and stuff like that back then.” 

Amiet refers to the rise in dangerous behavior as a phenomenon that she knows was not around when her older relatives went to OU.

While most people agree that the university is a safer version of a party school than it has been in the past, the consensus is still largely that OU is just that, a party school. Toria Willis, a freshman studying early childhood education, believes that OU is more of a party school now, due to a change in mindset from past generations. 

“People just want to experience (the partying) part of school, and not actual school,” said Willis. 

However, Willis also believes that while the party scene is an evident part of OU culture, people don’t only come to the school because of a hedonistic appeal. 

“I know obviously that a lot of people party…but (there’s) more of a normal balance in a college life than I thought (there would be) from what I had heard or (from) OU’s reputation,” said Amiet.

Fiona Ferrari, a freshman studying psychology and health communications, doesn’t feel pressured to engage in the party scene if she doesn’t want to. Being an honors student, she recognizes that there are plenty of opportunities to have a social life and be involved with other OU students without attending parties.

“I knew that there (were) a lot of parties, but I also know that…I don’t have to go to parties all the time…no one’s really (saying that) you have to or you won’t make friends,” she said.

Amiet came into college with a very different expectation of what going to a party school would be like. 

“(I thought that at party schools) classes…aren’t as valued by the student population, but OU seems to have a pretty good school system and grades…amongst students,” she says. “(I thought) it would have been more obvious that a lot of people party, but a lot of people here are more put together than I would assume when you describe it as a ‘party school.’” 

The overall consensus is that although OU could still be considered a party school, students don’t feel the pressure to engage in unsafe events if they don’t feel the need. Parties are being made safer through restrictions and rules on big weekends, and students know that they can still successfully and enjoyably complete their four years at OU without being a “party animal.”


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