Some More Meaningless Rankings

I agree with the assertion of Emerson College administrators, as reported by The Boston Globe, that it’s not fair for The Daily Beast‘s campus safety rankings to list it as the most dangerous college in America. Emerson was required to report both on-campus crimes and those that occurred in its neighborhood. The problem is that the school abuts Boston Common, which, like any urban park, has plenty of crime at night. But only a tiny fraction of the violent crimes that occurred in the area in 2007 involved Emerson students.

So the list is flawed. But I don’t think there’s any way to make such a list useful. It’s just too hard to account for all the variables in a fair way. For examples, sexual assault on campus remains a horrifically common occurrence, and campus culture with regards to reporting it varies wildly (and sickeningly) from place to place. So in many instance, schools that have healthy attitudes about reporting sexual assault can get punished in rankings like this. As The Globe puts it, “The Daily Beast concedes that [Harvard’s top ranking in the sexual assault category is] likely because the university is particularly diligent at getting students to report date and acquaintance rape.”

Pay no attention to these rankings. Instead, focus on rankings that are less sensationalistic and more methodologically sound, like this list of America’s top party schools.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.