One would not think, meandering around campus, that Bowdoin students are particularly lustful. Maybe it is the pastels of the omnipresent sweatpants or perhaps the relative unpopularity of sun dresses, but whatever the reason, students here just don't seem libidinous in the manner of those at Arizona State, Berkeley, or Miami. Such trivialities as reality, however, have never given pause to the editorial staff of The Daily Beast. And so the Beast decreed that Bowdoin College was the fourth-horniest institution of higher learning in the land. Never mind the methodology; that would ruin the fun, wouldn't it?
Luckily, Bowdoin was not the friskiest college in the NESCAC—that honor went to Wesleyan, which enjoyed the top position. In contrast with Bowdoin's place on the list, this makes sense. After all, we are talking about a university that produced Craig Thomas and Carter Bays of "How I Met Your Mother" fame (both class of 1997, and the creators of the insatiable Barney Stinson); Matthew Weiner of "Mad Men" acclaim (class of 1987, and who brings to the table his surname and Don Draper); and Michael Bay of "Transformers" notoriety (class of 1986, and responsible for turning Megan Fox into the sex object of the decade).
Sex aside, the College hasn't fared as well in other rankings. Forbes began ranking the overall quality of colleges in 2008, evaluating liberal arts schools alongside major research universities, and when Bowdoin came in at No. 15 in that inaugural ranking—ahead of Dartmouth and Stanford—few complaints were raised. But when the College slipped to No. 38 last month, the critics came out of the woodwork.
"Using the braggarts listed in 'Who's Who in America' to measure the achievements of our alumni is crap," one alumnus told me, referring to the component which comprises 10 percent of a school's ranking. Others have grumbled over Forbes' reliance upon ratings from RateMyProfessor.com (these ratings register heavily at 17.5 percent of the Forbes' formula), noting that most Bowdoin students instead use an internal course review system to register their satisfaction or displeasure. Yet criticizing the methodology of the Forbes rankings insinuates that the rankings actually measure something; in fact, the entire enterprise is resting on a faulty premise. In this case, the assumption is that Bowdoin is comparable to West Point, which is in turn comparable to M.I.T. It's like trying to rank spaghetti against sushi and baklava—each offers an entirely different experience.
When it comes to food, of course, Bowdoin's cuisine dynasty is unrivaled: Numerous mentions in The New York Times, multiple finishes atop the Princeton Review's best campus food list, and tales of crème brulée and lobster for the folks back home. Certainly some might lift their noses at such a claim to glory; tasty food doesn't earn a school the glamour that accompanies, say, a bowl game on ESPN. However, considering the scandals rocking college football, perhaps it's preferable to dominate in an endeavor where controversy doesn't involve boosters and tattoos and cars and prostitutes, but instead the occasional Monday sans meat. Given the pride surrounding the College's elite dining offerings, an outsider might have expected some uproar when Bowdoin dropped to No. 2 in the Princeton Review standings this summer. But students stayed calm. They knew that even the most sterling institutions occasionally falter, and that it's not worth fretting over a single downgrade. If only equities traders thought similarly.