A look at college’s no-commitment culture
By Marc Phillips
You’re on your way to your first college party ever. At last, you made it to the infamous “Circles” that everyone talks about.
A tall, imposing junior opens the red front door. He nods at you and your guy friends, half-smiles and motions to hurry inside. You realize it was a smart move to invite the lost girl in the too-tight black dress to join your group.
Once inside, you look for a place to put your black North Face, but end up throwing it in a pile with other black North Face jackets. You pray it’ll still be there by the time you leave.
Too-tight black dress seems excited to continue drinking. After all, you found her “breaking the seal,” when she was squatting in the woods along the “Rape Trail.”
After polishing off a $2 can of Keystone—“Oh-em-gee, the guy who sold it to me was sooo nice”—the girl takes you by your forearm and wants to go dance with you. You squeeze with 40 other horny underclassmen and fight for a spot to dance. You missed the memo about wearing a plaid button-down or black v-neck.
The DJ plays an inaudible mash- up of grinding songs from the second-floor balcony. Condensation is forming on the windows, and the air is filled with odors of cheap perfume and B.O. (but mostly B.O.).
At this point, your freshman dance partner guides her hands around your waist, turns around and goes in for a sloppy kiss. You think, “Is this really happening? We just met” but you continue to hook up anyway. The girl pulls away after a few minutes, stumbles to the bathroom, never to be seen again.
This is an all too common scenario among college underclassmen. American University freshman Brooke* justifies random hookups that she and her friends tend to encounter.
“My philosophy is that this is the only time in my life where it’s socially acceptable (and often encouraged) to kiss boys in public while heavily intoxicated,” she said. Perhaps it’s part of the fun of being young and commitment free.
However, one idea that varies among younger students is the definition of “hooking up.” Eric,* a sophomore at University of California Santa Barbara, says hooking up can include sexual intercourse. On the east coast, “hooking up” seems to be defined as your parent’s “French kiss”—that awkward moment when you stick your tongue in a stranger’s mouth.
Some students who are part of Greek life take a similar stance on drinking and easy hookups.
“I have friends—I’m talking about girls—who go out drunk, with the motivation of hooking up with anyone,” Annie, a sophomore at the University of Delaware, said. “It doesn’t even matter if they know the guy’s name or not. Sometimes people have no standards.”
Annie believes Greek life tends to foster random, inconsequential hookups among younger students.
“I think older students get tired of random hookups at frat parties and start to want more monogamous relationships,” she said. “I have a lot of friends who are seniors in my sorority, and the party scene kind of changes because you’re not going to big, crowded parties, you’re going to mostly bars.”
Ian,* a freshman at Wesleyan University, explained he finds men hold a similar view on underclassmen who act on lust and he enjoys the thrill of having a no-strings-attached relationship.
“I hooked up with three different girls during fall semester,” he said. “I’ve been seeing one who I’d consider as a friend with benefits. We’re not a couple and it’s very clear that when we’re on school break anything goes.”
Ian holds the logic that as long as he is young, he will go out and experience as many girls as he possibly can. Ian was recently inducted into his fraternity and believes that his new lifestyle is conducive to meeting many attractive sorority girls.
Why does Generation Y refute dating in lieu of casual hookups? According to psychologist Rita Brown-Holloway, who treats behavioral issues in adolescents, the problem is threefold.
“There has been an increase in alcohol consumption among the age group,” she said, referring to her findings. “There is also more stress and depression that causes collegians then to act out sexually and have poor judgment. This also leads to increased alcohol consumption.Facebook has increased the amount possible contacts and ‘hook-up pool’ college students would have had five to 10 years ago—which statistically increases their sexual contacts in general.”
Ben, a sophomore at Washington University in Saint Louis, finds his love life lacking depth because the girls aren’t mature enough. “I feel as if a lot of people are not looking for more than a purely physical relationship, and there’s a lack of maturity in many people,” he said.
“During fall semester, I brought a couple girls back to my room. At least it’s better than a dance floor hookup,” he said, adding, however, that he still felt unfulfilled.
Although Ben is active in his fraternity, he thinks the superficial qualities sometimes rub him the wrong way. He explained, “I’m waiting for someone to show respect, which means sacrificing easiness.”
For now, it seems that this promiscuous attitude is primarily favored by inexperienced underclassmen. Those of you wanting depth (and not easy access), just wait, because love may find you later on in college life.
*Names of interviewees have been changed due to the nature of the story.
Marc Phillips is a sophomore IMC major who wants to know: Who HU’d? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.