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List ranks Eckerd College among America's "druggiest." Really?

ST. PETERSBURG — Not again.

First Men's Health names St. Petersburg America's saddest city. And now this.

Eckerd College is America's 12th "Druggiest" college, according to online publication the Daily Beast.

Eckerd spokeswoman Alizza Punzalan-Randle sighed. Director of Security Adam Colby felt frustrated. Psychology major Jessica Werner was shocked and upset.

"I work really hard as a student, and my friends work really hard," Werner said. "I just finished 50 pages of essays. I want to graduate and say I got a great education from Eckerd."

Only to be undercut by another one of these annoying lists.

The Beast's "Top 30 Druggiest Colleges" list, which puts the University of Colorado at Boulder at the top, goes by somewhat subjective criteria. First, the Daily Beast, a news and commentary website affiliated with Newsweek, looked at the College Prowler, a widely used student-rating database. Any school with a low grade on "Drug Safety" went into the pot. Students gave Eckerd College a C-.

"It's always available, you just have to want it," one of the anonymous reviewers wrote. "There are a lot of pot-smoking hippies that live in Kappa."

Then the Beast took those low-graded schools and looked at their 2010 drug arrests-per-capita based on student enrollment numbers. Eckerd had eight on-campus arrests out of 2,520 students last year.

Colby said Eckerd is a small community and security officers "hear about everything," leading to the relatively large number of arrests per capita.

"They use our own data against us," Colby said of the Beast list. "If we decided we just wanted to turn a blind eye, we'd actually get a better rating. It's frustrating."

The Beast then factored in regular drug use among all college-age residents in the state where the college resides. In Florida, 18.7 percent of all people ages 18 to 25 use illicit drugs, according to a 2008-09 U.S. Department of Human Services survey. (No other Florida college made the list.)

Totally unfair, Werner said.

"I feel like it's not representing the Eckerd population as a whole," said the senior. "I think students think there's a lot of drug use here, but it's a false perception if you look at the real data. I just wrote a paper about this."

The Beast actually was not the first publication to list Eckerd as a drug-using school. Princeton Review's 2011 Top Party Schools listed Eckerd among the top 20 in "Most Beer Drinkers" and "Most Potheads" categories.

Colby said he is tired of the lists. Eckerd College is a tight-knit campus with strict policies against drug activity, he said. And St. Petersburg isn't sad at all.

"It actually made me sad to read that," he said. "When is someone going to write about how great this city is?"

Emily Nipps can be reached at nipps@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8452.

>>Fast facts

Dubious honor for colleges

The Daily Beast's Top 12 Druggiest Colleges in the U.S.

1. University of Colorado-Boulder

2. Denison University (Granville, Ohio)

3. Dartmouth College

4. Bryant University (Smithfield, R.I.)

5. Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio)

6. Illinois State University

7. University of Oregon

8. State University of New York-Purchase

9. Bates College (Lewiston, Maine)

10. State University of New York-Fredonia

11. Ohio Wesleyan University

12. Eckerd College

For the complete list of 30, go to thedailybeast.com

List ranks Eckerd College among America's "druggiest." Really? 12/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 1, 2011 11:21pm]
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