College Don’t Hurt Me

My former French professor imparted this message to the class: college is the time to be selfish. Travel, drink, have plenty of sex. She was exceptionally cool, I thought. But, looking back, her advice couldn’t have been more misguided for young men and women.

“Situationship,” “friends with benefits,” “you up babe”—these are the trendy phrases echoing across college campuses.

Statistics reveal a significant portion of college students engage in casual sexual encounters, affecting marriage and reproduction ages and posing physiological risks, particularly to women. Long-term commitments are jeopardized in the process.

Much ink has been spilled about the proliferation of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble—and perhaps even Plenty of Fish—further fueling this phenomenon. But I think colleges themselves also shoulder blame, as they perpetuate hookup culture and liberal sexual ethics—sometimes at taxpayer expense.

In May 2022, $32,000 out of a $300,000 grant funded “The Sex Podcast Season 1” at the University of Central Florida. The host and guests delve into discussions on reproductive rights—killing your child—and discussions on gay sex. In one episode titled “LGBTQI+ Alphabet Soup,” the host and guests inform listeners that gender and sex are different—they’re not.

“Lucky Slut Ticket” was what one young woman received for being the first customer of Slutty Vegan, a “slut” themed restaurant founded by Pinky Cole at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2018. Food options include “One Night Stand,” “Hollywood Hooker,” “Sloppy Toppy,” and “Chik’n Head.” In response, Shelby Barrow, Editor-in-Chief of The Liberty Jacket, the school’s student paper, astutely observed, “Many would argue that names like ‘One Night Stand’ and ‘Hollywood Hooker’ imply a sexual connotation, particularly in a derogatory manner towards women.” Barrow is right.

Observers of hookup culture argue that the pervasiveness of it is not a new phenomenon, but rather colleges have promoted hookup culture since the 1920s, with fraternities leading the way.

Lisa Wade of Tulane University argues that fraternities played a crucial role in shaping the social dynamics of college life, with one notable consequence being the reinforcement of hookup culture.

After a couple hundred years of conflict with higher education administrators, fraternity men start[ed] setting the social tone. Their way of experiencing college life—irreverent, raucous, and fun-oriented—was suddenly the way to experience college. Attending college was linked to the idea of being young and carefree.

Building on Wade’s analysis, media narratives also played a significant role in shaping college culture. For instance, in the late 1970s, the movie “Animal House” set a precedent for college enjoyment, prompting beer and liquor companies to heavily promote drinking as a central aspect of campus life throughout the 1980s. However, the landscape shifted, Wade argues, when the legal drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984, leading fraternity houses to become hubs for underage drinking, allowing fraternities to regain their dominance in campus social life.

My own experience in a fraternity underscores Wade’s argument.

During my brief tenure—only one semester before I decided to part ways—I witnessed firsthand the party atmosphere: older members provided the alcohol, inhibitions were cast aside through excessive drinking, and the fraternity house became a focal point for sexual activity.

However, while I believe media depictions of college life and fraternities have fueled poor sexual ethics on college campuses, I think lack of consequences might be the biggest factor.

This realization was underscored for me during a panel discussion titled “Skills over Status: The Shift Toward Skills-Based Hiring” in Washington, D.C., last April, which featured Maryland Governor Wes Moore. When questioned about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, he passionately expressed his commitment to preserving abortion rights in Maryland. Days before his panel appearance, he announced a state partnership with the University of Maryland Medical System, providing access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

But Maryland is not an outlier: George Washington University, George Mason University, and Harvard are also among the list of schools subsidizing abortion pills—even offering them in vending machines around campus.

All of this proves a poignant reality: the quest for genuine love amidst the halls of academia is increasingly elusive.

From the subtle endorsement of casual encounters over meaningful connections by some professors, to the normalization of overt sexualization through the presence of establishments like Slutty Vegan on campus, and even the convenience of obtaining contraception akin to purchasing a soft drink from a vending machine, universities have fractured the once sacred sexual ethos. Instead of fostering environments conducive to nurturing lasting bonds and healthy minds, they inadvertently promote behaviors that sow seeds of relational discord and mental disarray.

In light of Valentine’s Day, if colleges aspire to foster genuine connections and emotional well-being among their student body, they must reassess their priorities, eschewing the presence of venues that perpetuate a culture of sexual objectification and rejecting the normalization of easy-access abortion pill vending machines.

Perhaps then universities can reclaim their role as stewards of moral and relational integrity—which they lost long ago—and guide students towards paths of connection and emotional fulfillment.

Photo by MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE — Canva Stock — Edited by Jared Gould


2 thoughts on “College Don’t Hurt Me

  1. I look forward to the day when all the girls fondly reminisce about the good old college days as they sit alone in their efficiency apartments with their cats finishing that big plate of leftover “Sloppy Toppy” for them.

  2. The first thing to remember is that Animal House was set in 1962, when the drinking (and voting) age was 21.

    It was the Vietnam draft and the “old enough to fight, old enough to vote/drink” mantra that led to the 26th Amendment in 1971 and the brief experiment with lowering the drinking age — and only about half of the states lowered it to 18. By 1980, many states had raised it again on their own and my suspicion is that something similar is going to happen to currently legalized marijuana

    The other thing is that the fraternities got rid of their housemothers in the late 1960s — the housemothers were older widows who had raised sons of their own and kept things from getting out of hand — “Animal House” wouldn’t have happened with a housemother living there. Viewing the fraternities of a century ago in light of what they are today is like viewing passenger rail of a century ago in terms of Amtrak today, both are just remnants of something that was once much larger.

    That said, I blame the feminists and not the fraternities for the “hook up culture’ of today.

    What feminism did was say that women aren’t allowed to be nurturing anymore. That they aren’t permitted to be supportive anymore. So why would a man want to have a relationship with them?

    All they have left is sex — and a lot of college women will have sex with a random man and then try to build a relationship out of it the following morning. Hint — it doesn’t work…

    The feminist movement essentially made a Faustian bargain, giving young men access to casual sex in exchange for a second class status which men would otherwise never have tolerated. And young men today *are* second class citizens, both in academia and the workplace — the childless college-educated young woman now earns MORE than the childless college-educated young man.

    This was great for feminism, but terrible for individual females and Dr. Miriam Grossman’s Unprotected ought to be mandatory reading for both students and parents.

    Ready access to abortion is only a symptom of a larger problem — if men are interchangable and disposable when inconvenient, why should babies be any different? And when sex is the only reason why college men are interested in college women, it needs to be stressed lest the young ladies start wondering if their grandmothers were right. And imagine what would happen if women started putting their relationship with a man above their loyalty to the feminist cause…

    Feminism made a Faustian Bargain and young ladies today are paying the price.

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