August 11, 2001
HOOKING UP, HANGING OUT, HOPING FOR MR. RIGHT
After 40 years as a journalist, I am rarely
shocked. But I am stunned by the portrait of college social life
described in the landmark report, ''Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping
for Mr. Right,'' by the Institute for American Values.
First, dating has virtually disappeared. Based
on a poll of 1,000 women and in-depth interviews on 11 campuses, only 50
percent of college female seniors reported having had six or more dates
since coming to college; a third have had two or fewer dates! This is a
radical change from my college years, when everyone dated once or twice
Second, what has replaced dating is ''hooking
up,'' a vague phrase. A UVA woman explained: ''Some people say hook up
and they mean like making out or something, but I think most people,
when they say hook up, they mean like actual sex.''
Some 91 percent said hook ups, defined as
''when a guy and gal get together for a sexual encounter and don't
necessarily expect anything further'' - occurred ''very often'' or
''fairly often.'' Being drunk is a lubricant. It may happen on the
dance floor, in coed dorm halls or rooms.
Asked to describe how they felt after hooking
up, women were both positive and negative: 62 percent said they felt
more ''desirable'' and ''awkward.'' One woman lamented, ''My last random
hook was last October and it was bad. I was drunk and I just regretted
it very much.''
A Colby girl groaned, ''I just don't like
encountering that person (afterward) in the cafeteria...just act(ing)
like things are normal and cool.''
If women find hooking up is confusing, hurtful
and awkward, why do they do it? One surprising fact is there are only 79
college males per 100 females. Competition is tough. ''A lot of freshman
girls think sex will lead to a relationship...and that's obviously not
true,'' sighed a senior.
The rationalization of older girls is more
disturbing: ''It is easier to like hook up with someone as opposed
to...talking to them,'' said one. Some do so to avoid the pain of
breaking up: ''I don't want to give so much of myself where I put myself
in that position to get hurt.''
This is bizzare, upside down thinking. They
get physically involved because they don't want a commitment? Millions
of young people are hopelessly confused and lost.
The report has some good news. Surprisingly,
39 percent of college women are still virgins. A minority (40 percent)
have hooked up. Only one in ten have done so more than six times.
However, hooking up leads some women to being
''joined at the hip. Couples spend most, if not all, of their nights
together at one or the other's dorm room and they eat many of their
meals together, study together, share in doing laundry and more.''
A key factor is that students live in coed
dorms and even share coed bathrooms. ''Relationships tend to move a lot
faster, because you basically can see the person every day.''
Oddly, this is called ''dating.''
The term ''dating'' is also used to explain
''hanging out,'' in which men or women might drop by another's room to
watch a video or to party.. When drinking occurs, of course, some hook
Yet 83 percent of women say ''being married is
a very important goal for me.''
Authors Norval Glenn and Elizabeth Marquardt
conclude, ''Hook ups do not appear to help young people in a critical
life task, which is learning how to form and sustain mature
relationships.'' That's an understatement. What they learn, instead, is
how to break up.
How can college administrators rationalize
this scandal? Where are America's religious leaders, alumni and parents?
Why don't they demand an end to coed dorms?
Surely, Scripture is clear: ''Flee
fornication,'' Paul wrote in I Cor. 6:18.
Only Boston University had the courage to
change the rules. In 1989, it declared an end to people of the opposite
sex spending the night in dorm rooms.
''With dorms open 24 (hours) 7 (days), we saw
too many student conflicts, which interfered with academics,'' says Herb
Ross, assistant vice president. ''We had huge vandalism with punched
holes in walls, toilets flooding. Overnight guests of the opposite sex
interfered with roommate's privacy and access to their space. They felt
they had to crash on someone's else's floor or be a voyeur.''
That's over at BU. The quality of dorm life
improved. Vandalism is rare. Initially, the number of college
applications fell from 23,877 before the policy was announced to 19,644
for 5,000 slots. In 2001 there were 28,221 applications and their SAT
scores rose from 1263 to 1283.
That's secular evidence a moral position pays
Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.