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Princeton rankings not all bad

Katie Perry | Thursday, January 20, 2005

This year, Notre Dame was one of the most featured colleges in the Princeton Review’s “Best 357 Colleges” book listings, appearing in 10 of the 64 total categories. While much of the attention following the rankings’ release was dominated by the University’s controversial first-place ranking in the category of “Alternative Lifestyles Not an Alternative,” many of its other top finishes never got a second look.The annual rankings provide direction and information for many-college bound high school students and their parents. To rank the schools, the Princeton Review selects what they consider to be the top schools – 357 made the cut this year – and categorizes them into top-20 lists focusing on different criteria. According to the Princeton Review’s Web site, rankings are based on approximately 300 surveys administered either electronically online or via paper over a period of three years. In a pledge posted on their website, the Princeton Review vows to deliver an “unbiased and uncensored view” of the featured universities and adds that rankings are generated from “the real experts” – current college students.Among the University’s favorable rankings, one-third directly involved athletics. Notre Dame took top honors in the categories “Everyone Plays Intramural Sports” and “Students Pack the Stadiums,” and ranked fourth among the “Jock Schools.”Richard O’Leary, director of intramurals and club sports, attributed the widespread student involvement in interhall athletics to the organizational efforts of RecSports, as well as the general enthusiasm of the student body.”The Athletic Department has always supported the athletic interests of the entire student body,” O’Leary said. “We are also blessed with a student body that requires us to provide well-rounded and complete recreational offerings.”Sophomore Ryan Ritter, an active member of intramural sports from Sorin Hall, agreed that both the students and opportunities provided by the University itself play crucial roles in the popularity of non-varsity athletics at Notre Dame.”I think it’s mostly the students that fuel the popularity of our intramurals, but thankfully RecSports has given the students plenty of opportunity to do so,” Ritter said.Notre Dame is characterized by the above-average athleticism of its student body, as each year it accrues a large number of former high school athletes. The spirited nature of the interhall sports program serves to fill a void for those who have previously participated in competitive sports, O’Leary said.”Our intramural program may be filling a competitive desire that has been carried over from their high school days,” he said.Ritter argued that Notre Dame can allow formerly competitive students to rediscover a sometimes overlooked outlook on sports.”Interhall sports have done more than just fill a void,” Ritter said. “I’ve found that they also bring back the reasons most of us started playing in the first place – having fun.”The importance of dorm pride also lends itself to the popularity of intramural sports at Notre Dame, as students band with their hall communities rather than self or randomly-assembled teams. Dorm pride helps to fuel competition, Ritter said.Because many Notre Dame students are athletes themselves, they have a marked appreciation for intercollegiate athletics. The University’s first-place ranking in the category of “Students Pack the Stadiums” shows that students enjoy playing the role of athlete as well as that of spectator.The athletic history of many Notre Dame students allows them to recognize the importance of fan support at athletic events. “I feel a certain responsibility and desire to do whatever I can to help our sports teams because I’ve played on many teams myself, and I know full well that fans play a large role in any game,” freshman Kyle Meade said.The large number of intramural athletics participants and varsity sports attendees helped Notre Dame rank among the top five “Jock Schools” in the nation. Another category in which Notre Dame was placed among the top 10 was “Students Pray on a Regular Basis,” Junior Amanda Murillo said that while Notre Dame provides ample opportunity for prayer, it is the students themselves who drive the religious devoutness on campus.”There are so many opportunities to become involved in religious activities, and students at Notre Dame are eager to grow in their faith,” Murillo said. “They encourage each other and support one another to grow spiritually.”Numerous clubs, organizations and retreats organized through Campus Ministry and other religious programs at school offer opportunities for prayer and personal religious reflection for the students of Notre Dame. Murillo is an active member of many of these programs, including Society of the Ivory Tower – which studies the theology of the body – and Eucharistic Adoration.”I try to be involved in things that will encourage growth in my prayer life,” Murillo said.Other categories featuring Notre Dame in the top 20 include “More to Do On Campus” and “Great Campus Food.”