While Western University has long been called Canada's party school, one alumnus is proving other students may have us beat.
In October, Maclean's released survey data from students at nearly 50 Canadian universities. The survey asked them how many hours on average they spend studying and partying per week.
The results placed McGill University in first for average number of study hours per week at 21.9, Western at 11th with 18.6 and Cape Breton University in last with 10.6. St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia is first in partying hours with 7.9 hours a week — Western is only eighth at 4.6. Otherwise, Queen's University comes in third with six hours on average per week, and Simon Fraser University is last with 1.6.
But Western alumnus Demetri Pananos further organized and analyzed the data for Canadian data-journalism publication, The 10 and 3. Pananos, who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor of science, said his analysis considered what the Maclean's survey did not address. Particularly, the intensity of partying each student practices and what each student even considers “partying”: whereas one student considers partying relaxing with friends and alcohol, another may only consider it going out to bars or clubs.
The results suggest Western's reputation as Canada's premier party school may need to be challenged.
"To see that other universities were the top party schools was pretty surprising to me, and I certainly didn't know that Queen's partied more than Western," he said.
Pananos organized the schools according to their number of hours studied per one hour of partying; the lower the number, the more leisurely the lifestyle. Bishop's University in Quebec was the lowest at fewer than two hours of studying for every hour of partying. Western was 11th at four to one, and SFU was highest at nine to one.
In either ratio or quantity, Western is eighth place at its highest, despite its hedonistic reputation.
Much of the party image stems from Western's fourth-overall ranking on Playboy magazine's 2011 "Top 10 Party Schools" list. At the time, it was the only Canadian school to make the cut; the list cites "rowdy dorms" and London's local bar scene as contributing factors.
Back then, Western's Saugeen-Maitland Hall typified the rowdy dorm reputation. In its earlier years, the rez was informally called "The Zoo" — a moniker that the administration worked to erase over the years since. Among its highlights are a viral lip dub and the "Saugeen stripper", a first-year student who performed a strip tease for other students and garnered national attention in the aftermath.
However, Pananos also mentioned the Homecoming and fake-Homecoming scandals that have embattled many students whose binge drinking habits are centre around the events. After the administration moved the date to late October, last fall 11,000 students observed the old date, a 10 per cent increase from the previous year. Pananos believes FOCO points to Western's unquantifiable party culture.
"If anything, the culture has persisted since [my undergrad] because the administration tries to curb partying, and the students respond by throwing a giant party anyways," he said. Pananos did his undergraduate in math at Western and is now also doing his PhD.
Pananos said, despite what the Maclean's survey ignores, he believes Western probably isn't Canada's top party school, and that Western's party reputation may have to be revisited.