College is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in a young adult’s life. With newfound freedom and independence, many students experiment with partying for the first time. This has led some colleges to develop a reputation as a ‘party school’.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: UMass Amherst has historically had a reputation as a party school, but recent initiatives have aimed to shift the campus culture.

In this comprehensive article, we will examine UMass Amherst’s party reputation. We’ll look at the history of partying at UMass, statistics on drinking and drug use, the university’s efforts to change campus culture, student opinions on partying, and how UMass compares to other schools.

History of Partying at UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst has gained a reputation as a party school over the years, attracting students who enjoy a lively social scene. This reputation dates back decades and has been shaped by various events and traditions that have become synonymous with the university’s party culture.

UMass’ reputation dates back decades

UMass Amherst’s party scene has been a part of the university’s culture for many years. The campus has long been known for its vibrant social life, with students organizing parties and events to unwind from their studies.

This lively atmosphere has contributed to the school’s reputation as a party school, attracting students who are looking for a balance between academics and social life.

Riots in the 1990s

In the 1990s, UMass Amherst made headlines for a series of riots that occurred during parties and celebrations. These riots were often fueled by alcohol and resulted in property damage and arrests. While these incidents were certainly not representative of the entire student body, they contributed to the university’s reputation as a party school.

Blarney Blowout parties 2010-2014

One of the most notable party events at UMass Amherst in recent years was the Blarney Blowout parties that took place from 2010 to 2014. This off-campus celebration, which coincided with St. Patrick’s Day, attracted thousands of students and often involved excessive drinking and unruly behavior.

The parties gained national attention and further solidified UMass Amherst’s reputation as a party school.

It is important to note that while UMass Amherst has a reputation for its party scene, the university also offers a wide range of academic programs and opportunities for students to excel. The party culture should not overshadow the school’s commitment to education and the achievements of its students.

Drinking and Drug Use Statistics

Binge drinking rates

Binge drinking, defined as having 5 or more drinks in a row for men and 4 or more for women, is a common occurrence at UMass Amherst. According to a recent survey conducted by the university, about 35% of students reported binge drinking in the past 2 weeks.

This rate is significantly higher than the national average for college students of around 20%. While many students view drinking as a normal part of the college experience, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to risky behavior and serious health consequences.

Alcohol-related arrests

Along with high drinking rates comes alcohol-fueled misconduct. In 2021, UMass Police made over 500 liquor law arrests, mostly for underage drinking and public intoxication. The neighborhoods surrounding campus are also affected, with many noise complaints and vandalism cases tied to drunk students.

The university and Amherst Police have cracked down with enhanced enforcement efforts in recent years, but alcohol-related incidents remain common, especially on weekends and during big events like homecoming.

Drug use

Marijuana and other illicit drug use is also widespread at UMass. A recent anonymous survey indicated that over half of students had used marijuana in the past year, and around 25% had used other illegal drugs like cocaine, Ecstasy, or LSD.

While Massachusetts has legalized recreational marijuana, it remains prohibited on campus grounds. UMass officials have tried addressing the problem through education and amnesty policies for those who seek help, but substance abuse continues to be an issue.

Creating a healthier campus culture through student-led initiatives could be the key to reducing high-risk drinking and drug use.

UMass Efforts to Change Campus Culture

UMass Amherst has been working diligently to change its campus culture and shed its reputation as a party school. The university has implemented several initiatives to create a more balanced and responsible environment for its students.

Ban on Blarney Blowout

One of the major steps taken by UMass Amherst was the implementation of a ban on the infamous Blarney Blowout. This annual off-campus party, which had gained a reputation for excessive drinking and unruly behavior, was a significant contributor to the university’s party school image.

The ban on Blarney Blowout has helped to curb the excessive partying and improve the overall atmosphere on and off-campus.

Greater security and police presence

Another measure taken by UMass Amherst is the increase in security and police presence on campus. This has helped to deter and address any potential disruptive behavior and has made students feel safer.

The university has also collaborated with local law enforcement agencies to ensure a coordinated effort in maintaining a peaceful campus environment.

More alcohol education

UMass Amherst has recognized the importance of educating its students about responsible alcohol consumption. The university has implemented mandatory alcohol education programs for incoming students, providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills to make informed decisions regarding alcohol.

Additionally, UMass Amherst has increased the availability of counseling services for students struggling with substance abuse issues, further promoting a healthy and responsible campus culture.

Emphasis on academic rigor

UMass Amherst has also placed a strong emphasis on academic rigor and achievement to shift the focus away from the party scene. The university has implemented various programs and initiatives to support student success, including academic advising, tutoring services, and study groups.

By prioritizing academic excellence, UMass Amherst aims to create a campus culture that values intellectual growth and personal development.

These efforts by UMass Amherst have not only helped to improve its reputation but have also created a more positive and conducive environment for students. While the university acknowledges that there is still work to be done, the progress made so far is commendable.

UMass Amherst is on its way to transforming its campus culture and becoming known for academic excellence rather than its party school image.

Student Opinions on Partying at UMass

Many say partying is integral to UMass experience

When it comes to partying, many students at UMass Amherst believe it is an integral part of their college experience. The campus is known for its lively social scene, with numerous parties and events happening throughout the year.

Students express that these social gatherings not only provide a break from academics but also foster a sense of community and camaraderie among the student body. The vibrant party culture at UMass is often seen as a way for students to relax, unwind, and create lasting memories with friends.

According to a survey conducted by the UMass Amherst Student Government Association, 80% of students believe that partying contributes positively to their overall college experience. They argue that attending parties allows them to meet new people, form connections, and expand their social networks.

Additionally, many students believe that partying helps alleviate stress and promotes a healthy work-life balance.

Students divided on whether UMass deserves party reputation

While UMass Amherst has gained a reputation as a party school, student opinions on whether the university truly deserves this label are divided. Some students argue that the party reputation is exaggerated and does not accurately reflect the academic opportunities and achievements of UMass.

They emphasize that the university offers a wide range of rigorous academic programs and that students are dedicated to their studies.

On the other hand, there are students who acknowledge that partying is a significant aspect of the UMass experience and believe that the party school reputation is somewhat justified. They point to the numerous parties and events on and off-campus, as well as the prevalence of Greek life, as evidence of the university’s active social scene.

Some believe campus is quieting down in recent years

While partying has long been associated with UMass Amherst, there is a growing belief among students that the campus is quieting down in recent years. Some students claim that stricter enforcement of alcohol policies, increased focus on academics, and changing student attitudes have contributed to a decline in the party culture.

According to a report published by The Daily Collegian, the number of noise complaints and alcohol-related incidents on campus has decreased in recent years. This suggests that the university’s efforts to promote a safer and more academically-focused environment may be having an impact on the party scene.

However, it is important to note that while the party culture may be evolving, UMass Amherst still offers a vibrant social scene with various events and activities for students to enjoy. Whether students choose to embrace the party culture or not, UMass provides a diverse and dynamic environment for all students to thrive in.

How UMass Compares to Other Schools

Rankings of top party schools

When it comes to partying, UMass Amherst has often been associated with the reputation of being a top party school. However, it’s important to note that rankings can vary and are subjective. The Princeton Review, for example, releases an annual list of the top party schools in the country.

While UMass Amherst has appeared on this list in the past, it’s essential to consider that these rankings are based on surveys and student opinions, which may not accurately reflect the overall academic environment of the university.

Comparison to other Massachusetts colleges

When comparing UMass Amherst to other colleges in Massachusetts, it’s worth noting that each institution has its own unique campus culture and atmosphere. While UMass Amherst may have a larger student population and a reputation for lively social events, there are other colleges in Massachusetts that also offer vibrant social scenes and a sense of community.

For example, Boston University and Northeastern University in Boston are known for their active student life and numerous extracurricular activities.

Comparison to other UMass campuses

Within the University of Massachusetts system, UMass Amherst is often seen as the flagship campus. It has the largest student population and offers a wide range of academic programs and resources. However, each UMass campus has its own strengths and unique features.

UMass Boston, for instance, is known for its urban setting and strong emphasis on community engagement. UMass Lowell is recognized for its strong engineering and business programs. UMass Dartmouth has a strong focus on marine science and technology.

It’s important to consider the specific qualities and offerings of each campus when comparing UMass Amherst to other UMass campuses.


In conclusion, UMass Amherst has long had a reputation as a party school, fueled by riots in the 90s and large unauthorized parties like Blarney Blowout in the 2000s. However, recent statistics show drinking rates in line with national averages.

The administration has taken steps to shift campus culture through increased enforcement and education. While some students still embrace the party reputation, others feel it is outdated. UMass parties may be tamer compared to top party schools like West Virginia University.

Overall, the historical party reputation persists, but the modern UMass experience is multi-faceted.

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