Today's Front Page
Try our latest crossword
Read our Earth Day special issue

University joins elite schools in boycotting 'most-wired' survey

The University has joined at least 10 other schools in boycotting the fourth annual Yahoo! Internet Life magazine survey ranking the most wired college campuses, according to CIT vice president Ira Fuchs.

In past years, University administrators have sent written complaints to the survey's publishers questioning the manner in which the rankings were assigned, Fuchs said.


"Each year they go on with the survey and disregard our opinions. This year we decided it was time to make a louder statement, and we responded by not responding," Fuchs said.

Among the schools who joined the boycott are Yale, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Duke and Stanford universities, and the universities of Chicago, California-Berkeley, Michigan and Washington, according to Fuchs.

"For months, a number of schools have been talking together about this survey and how it's seriously flawed," Fuchs noted.

MIT, the University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College opted to continue participating in the survey, he added.

Yahoo's survey asks colleges to answer questions about online class registration, the number of laptop ports installed, accessibility of specialized computer equipment such as digital cameras, the number of computers per student, computer lab hours of operation, e-mail access and distance learning resources, according to the Yahoo! Internet Life Webpage.

"The problem with the survey is that there are a lot of [information technology] questions, but they vary in importance depending on the goals and objectives of each individual school," Fuchs said. "Each school has a different set of student needs and goals, and the different universities try to meet them. No school is better or worse."


To assign each institution a ranking, the survey uses a single formula it does not publish, which gives more weight to some questions than to others, according to Fuchs. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine suggested that the boycott was a result of displeasure about the survey from schools that would have done poorly in the rankings anyway, Fuchs said.

"This is wrong," he said. "The boycott is not due to sour grapes but to careful discussions among the dissatisfied schools. Also, Princeton did very well annually in the survey," he said.

In the 1999 survey, Princeton moved from 66th in the rankings to 22nd. "The point is not where we come out in the survey but that the survey continues to send the wrong message to prospective students and parents," Fuchs added.

Fuchs said that one of the questions on the survey asked the number of University students per modem — an important factor for a school with a non-centralized student body but less important at Princeton. "For a school that is entirely commuter-based, technology at a distance is more important than at Princeton where 99 percent of students live on campus," he said.

Get the best of ‘the Prince’ delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe now »

Another question in the survey asked how many classes are taught completely online. "If they're encouraging students not to come to class, then this is fine, but that's not something that Princeton encourages," Fuchs said.

The University is considering participating in a similar survey conducted by EduCause as an alternative to the Yahoo! Internet Life magazine survey, according to Fuchs.

Officials from Yahoo! Internet Life magazine could not be reached for comment yesterday.