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September 13, 2006
Column #1,307
Dorm Brothel & Colleges That Let It Happen
by Michael J. McManus

What is it about college that derails students from their faith?

It can be stated in two words, "Dorm Brothel," the headline of an article in "Christianity Today" by Loyola Prof. Vigen Guroian to describe the culture of today's dormitory life in America.  The subtitle of his February, 2005 piece was "The new debauchery, and the colleges that let it happen."

Three-fifths of today's young adults "were churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible or praying,") according to a new poll by George Barna.

"Only one-fifth of twentysomethings (20%) have maintained a level of spiritual activity consistent with their high school experiences."

As a professor of theology and ethics Guroian's report is horrifying from a parent's perspective.  Loyola is a Catholic college in Baltimore, whose president is a Jesuit priest.

Yet most students live in high rises or garden apartments, where men and women are not even separated by floor, let alone by building. He reports, "Drinking, especially binge drinking, serves as the lubricant for the casual sex that living arrangements at Loyola invite and permit." One young man told Guroian:

"True story. I woke up at three in the morning one day last year to my roommate having sex in his bed five feet away from me...I simply told him that I could not believe that she didn't mind having sex with someone for the first time while someone was in the room sleeping. I also couldn't believe that she hadn't stopped and covered herself up when I had walked out of the room."

Gurioan comments: "This is a disturbing description of the demise of decency and civility between the sexes for which American colleges are culpable and blameworthy... Today's colleges not only turn a blind eye to this behavior, but also set up the conditions that foster and invite it."

"In most American college coed dorms, the flesh of our daughters is being served up daily like snack jerky...Nor are our daughters the only ones getting hurt. The sex carnival that is college life today is also doing great damage to our sons' characters, deforming their attitudes toward the opposite sex."

Yet Guroian is most concerned about the young women who "are far more vulnerable to sexual abuse and mistreatment by young men than when I was a college student, simply because the institutional arrangements that protected young women are gone and the new climate says everything goes."

Tom Wolfe, a widely read novelist, writes about the new debauchery in his novel, "I Am Charlotte Simmons." The main character, a freshman, describes a common practice of being "sexiled," expelled from her own dorm room, so that a roommate can have sex.

Many colleges have not only coed dorm floors but shared bathrooms and showers, though that's beyond what Loyola permits.  "Young men and women who have never seen anyone of the opposite sex must get used to being seen by and seeing others - perfect strangers - in such a state.  Everyone is available to everyone else. It would be antisocial not to be," he writes. "Under such conditions, how could dating and courtship possibly survive? How could traditional marriage survive, in the long term?"

In fact, dating has not survived.  It has been replaced by what college kids call "hooking up" in which men and women meet and then have sex.  Lubricated by liquor, both genders simply use each other for mutual pleasure.

A Loyola residential advisor wrote him, "The peer pressure and the way things are set up make promiscuity practically obligatory.  It doesn't matter what the school says officially. The rules are to be broken. This freedom can make girls dizzy and unsure of whatever else they believe about `saving oneself for marriage.'"

I asked to interview Loyola s president, but was denied.  I assumed the "Christianity Today" article would prompt reforms, such as separating sexes by dorm. Mark Kelly, the college's PR director, refused to answer questions. Instead, he issued a brief statement that Loyola "does not agree with the opinions of Dr. Virgen Gurioan about the living conditions in the College's residence halls, and asserts he is not qualified to represent Loyola or its students."

Why is a professor of ethics and theology for 25 years and author of nine books,  unqualified to comment on the lack of ethics of his own college?

Kelly charged Gurioan has not discussed the matter "with the College's Student Life professionals."  Yet, when I asked if they had sought to speak to Guroian, I got no response.

Parents, you'd better find out what dorms are like at your child's college!

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