Stone-Cold Sober XXIII: BYU repeats (and repeats) atop Princeton Review list
Vai Sikahema, the best Cougar football player to wear No. 23, says annual ranking ‘gives me a chance to puff out my chest’
PROVO — As it says in the 23rd Psalm, BYU’s cup runneth over.
There’s just no alcohol in it.
For the 23rd consecutive year, BYU is No. 1 on the Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s “Stone-Cold Sober Schools.”
The last time the university wasn’t the soberest of them all, another famous 23, Michael Jordan, had just retired after winning his sixth NBA championship.
That was 1998. This year’s freshman class wasn’t even born until 2002 or ’03.
So how did BYU get here, and what does it mean?
The school made the top 20 on more than a dozen different lists published in the Princeton Review’s 2021 edition of “The Best 386 Colleges,” which went on sale today. The 62 lists can be seen for free at princetonreview.com/best386.
The rankings reflect what each school’s own students say about themselves and their college or university. The Princeton Review’s rankings and lists are based on an 85-question survey that asks students about their professors, administrators, school services, campus culture and other facets of campus life.
The sober category is based on answers students provide about the use of alcohol and drugs at their school, the number of hours they study each day outside of class and the popularity of campus fraternities and sororities.
BYU student responses this year put the school No. 1 for low beer usage, No. 2 for low hard liquor usage and No. 5 for low marijuana use.
BYU abolished fraternities and sororities in 1924, social clubs in 1962 and maintains a strict honor code prohibiting the use of alcohol.
The other schools in the top five on the Stone-Cold Sober list were College of the Ozarks, Thomas Aquinas College, the U.S. Naval Academy and Wheaton College. BYU and Navy are scheduled to meet on the football field on Labor Day. BYU also is scheduled to play football this fall against the U.S. Military Academy (Army), which finished 11th in the sober rankings.
This year’s top Party School was the University of Alabama.
Student responses also led the Princeton Review to rank BYU second for most religious students. The University of Utah also made that list, at No. 19. The University of Dallas, a small Catholic school, was first.
BYU students also love their sports. They both play them (eighth on the list of reported intramural sports participation) and turn out to watch them (10th for packing campus stadiums).
Of course, it’s the sober list that generates headlines, videos and contests for a year’s supply of chocolate milk. There’s also campus pride at a school owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And don’t forget the joshing.
BYU alumni across the country hear about it and talk about it.
Just ask the best BYU football player ever to wear No. 23, Vai Sikahema, a news anchor at Philadelphia’s NBC affiliate.
“It comes up all the time because Princeton is in our viewing area, and we live in New Jersey,” the former NFL Pro Bowler said. “We are about 45 minutes, doorstep to campus, about the distance of driving from Provo to the University of Utah. It comes up all the time, and because I’m a BYU grad, my station uses it every year when it comes out in what we call happy talk or a kicker, the little fun story at the end of the newscast. It gives me a chance to gloat and puff out my chest. It has always been a fun little deal for me.”
Often, one of Sikahema’s colleagues at the station is a graduate of a school on the top 20 list of “Party Schools.”
“They’re just every bit as proud of their party school reputation as I am of BYU’s Stone-Cold status,” said Sikahema, who is retiring in November after 26 years at the station and moving back to Utah.
He’ll find BYU students who have only known a world in which their school was the definition of sobriety and Michael Jordan was retired. Of course, Jordan is firmly back in people’s minds because of ESPN’s 10-part documentary, “The Last Dance.”
And Year 23 probably isn’t BYU’s Last Dance on top of the Princeton Review’s list.
Where Utah schools rank on the Princeton Review lists based on responses from 143,000 U.S. college students:
Brigham Young University
1. Stone-Cold Sober Schools.
1. Got Milk? (beer usage reported low).
2. Scotch & Soda, Hold the Scotch (hard liquor usage reported low).
2. Most Religious Students.
2. Best College Library.
5. Don’t Inhale (marijuana usage reported low).
5. Town-Gown Relations are Great.
6. Future Rotarians and Daughters of the American Revolution.
8. Everyone Plays Intramural Sports.
8. Best-Run Colleges (administration gets high marks).
8. Election? What Election? (least politically active students).
10. Students Pack the Stadiums (intercollegiate sports popular).
19. Students Most Engaged in Community Service.
University of Utah
4. Best Health Services.
5. Election? What Election? (least politically active students).
5. Best Athletic Facilities.
19. Most Religious Students.
Profiled in the book but not on any of the “top 20” ranking lists.