Stories about party school rankings circulate at college campuses across the country. Although it may be hard to decipher fact from fiction, this is what we know to be true:
According to snopes2.com, an urban legend Web site, the story about Playboy's ranking of the top party schools has existed since about 1955 at schools around the country. Although Playboy acknowledges these campus legends, the magazine reports that it has only conducted one in-house ranking of the top party schools, published in January 1987. The article, called "Top 40 Party Colleges" ranked California State University as the number one party school. Wisconsin did not even receive honorable mention. Playboy did its best to take the sting out of leaving other universities off their list by adding this disclaimer at the bottom of the article: "If your school isn't listed, it's probably because we didn't include professionals."
Prior to the 1987 compilation, Playboy published two other articles in which they ranked college campuses. In 1976, "What's really happening on campus?" talked about blowout parties of the year, and in 1968, "A swinger's guide to academe" ranked schools according to their sexual permissiveness. The University of Wisconsin-Madison received the top spot in the 1968 article, ranking number one on the campus action chart. Schools on the list were ranked on guy/girl ratio, whether coeds were swingers or committed, and campus ambience.