Profs criticize BC dating scene
Published: Monday, April 5, 2004
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The St. Thomas More Society brought together three female professors to discuss dating, relationships, and sex at Boston College last Thursday. All three panelists at the lecture, titled "Bring Back the Date!" returned frequently to the theme of how a "hook-up culture" degrades women and their partners and needs to be replaced by a lively, pressure-free dating scene.
Rev. Ronald Tacelli, SJ gave a brief introduction to the panel and remarked happily on the large number of attendees who filled Devlin 008 lecture hall despite pouring rain. "I really didn't expect anyone to show up tonight. I guess you all really want to learn about dating," he said.
He then introduced the three panelists - professor Kerry Cronin of the philosophy department, professor Mary Troxell of the theology department, and professor Marina McCoy of the philosophy department - and told them each to give a 10 minute statement before opening up the forum to student questions.
This lecture served as a follow-up to a St. Thomas More Society lecture earlier this semester titled "Chastity and Courage," which called on men to sacrifice premarital sex, whether inside or outside of a relationship, in order to enjoy a superior bond with their wives in the future. In order to present both sides of the dating equation, the three female panelists made women the focal point of their presentations.
Cronin spoke first, and jokingly assured the audience that the St. Thomas More Society is not obsessed with sex, but wants to address a disturbing trend at BC and other college campuses. She said she became interested in the topic of a hook-up culture after speaking with a number of juniors and seniors after an event last semester, learning that a significant number of them had never been on a date while at BC.
"These were all bright, enthusiastic students, involved in everything on campus, as I'm sure many of you [in attendance] are. But they were involved in everything except dating," she said.
Using the blackboard, Cronin made a graph of BC's dating scene. A quarter of students fit into a category of having a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend. These students are perceived, for better or for worse, as "married couples," said Cronin.
"We know who they are. They are the ones holding hands on campus. Nobody likes them ... but seriously we all envy them," she added.
Another quarter of students in Cronin's graph exemplified the hook-up culture of college campuses, going to alcohol-fueled parties on the weekends with friends, but leaving with someone they already scoped out on campus.
"I knew that hooking up existed. Some people did it and they were gross. But it's more of a reality than a myth. This seems to be the social norm for many people," she said.
The majority of people at BC, however, don't fall in either of these two categories, but in a sort of gray area, said Cronin. Some of them will also enter into an unofficial relationship with someone at another school, such as a former student of Cronin's who had a long distance relationship with a student at another school only to break up with him immediately after graduation. "It became clear that they were never more than good friends. He didn't want to deal with the gross dating scene at the Naval Academy, and that she didn't want to deal with the hook-up scene at BC," said Cronin.
Many students in this middle ground also occasionally hook up, feeling that there are no other romantic options on campus. The best way to escape this confusing and unhealthy cycle, Cronin argued, would be to bring back the date. "My challenge to the BC community is to give you all an assignment: Go out on a date," she said.
That same challenge had been issued to her students with mixed results. Those that did manage to go out on a date learned about their own tastes in other people, Cronin said. "[Dating] is about discerning what you know about yourself and about other people, without that pressure of sexual intimacy, which can be really damaging," she said.
Troxell spent her 10 minutes debunking, from a women's perspective, what she felt were four major myths regarding sex and hooking up. American society has taught women that hooking up is empowering for women, that no one will want to have a relationship with you if you remain chaste, she said.
"The men that do stick around are either going to respect your values, which is a good thing, or are going to share your values, which is even better," she said.
Other "myths" that Troxell took aim at were the idea that if you don't have sex in college, you are missing out; and that hooking up is just one more choice regarding sexuality, and more choices must be a good thing.
"By taking advantage of the opportunity to hook up, the opportunity you are giving up is, sadly, one of the most valuable opportunities you can have - an opportunity to disclose all of yourself and give all of yourself to another human being," she concluded.
McCoy dealt with the role of long-term relationships in college life. One female student told McCoy that she longs for a romantic atmosphere, McCoy said. "She thinks she's living in the wrong century, because [romance] is not realistic. It's no longer appropriate for women to want to have romance," McCoy said.
By breaking the hook-up cycle on college campuses, current college students will find more fulfillment in the future. In fact, college is one of the best places to enter into a relationship, she argued.
"It's easier to find people you have something in common with at college because your interests aren't fully formed, and as you get older you get less flexible," she said.
Many students who asked questions agreed with the panelists that there has been a death of dating at BC, and pointed to the high financial cost of dating, the lack of common space on campus, and the lack of communication and "signals" between male and females as areas that could be addressed in order to truly facilitate a rebirth of the date.