Dating can be absolutely intimidating, especially with the popularity of dating apps. I don’t actually know anyone without a Tinder or Bumble account. It can be scary to go on a date or meet up with someone that you have never met before, with only a couple of pictures and a handful of exchanged messages to go on.
While these apps are great for meeting people and do lead to relationships, they are also notorious for being ‘hookup apps.’ Hookup culture is huge on college campuses, and Boston College is not an exception. And while BC isn’t perfect, it is working toward making hookup culture safer for the students.
BC is a double-edged sword with hookup culture, as it does not do much to provide safe sex options for students. Because it is a Catholic institution, BC does not provide contraceptives and important sexual health information. It does provide STI testing through University Health Services (UHS), which is a good initiative by the University. However, it provides neither male nor female contraceptives for students. As a result, groups like Students for Sexual Health have taken it upon themselves to do so. Having access to condoms is a great start, but there is still a long way to go in terms of female contraceptives which could easily be distributed through UHS.
On the other hand, BC has a lot of resources that provide students with the necessary resources needed for their individualized situations.
The University offers the Sexual Assault Network (SANet), which helps students who are victims of sexual assault, in addition to listing a number of important phone numbers printed on the back of our IDs. Resources, such as Eagle Escort and the blue lights scattered around campus, help students feel safer and protect themselves. The Boston College Police Department (BCPD) is also very helpful in times of need and distress.
Last semester, I took a self-defense class taught by BCPD and found it to be very informative. It is run through a program called Rape Aggression Defense and offers classes for both men and women. The classes aren’t the same, as the male classes focus more on how to read situations and not push boundaries and just be aware of your actions. I think this is a great class to have because it teaches men about their actions and the negative impact they can have.
I took the women-only class. I really liked it, as I found the instructors were very knowledgeable and easy to talk to, and there wasn’t any judgment regardless of your athletic ability. They taught different methods of how to protect yourself. They taught ways to escape various situations, like being on a bad date or just standing at a bus stop. They also explained the importance of your voice and being able to stand up for yourself. It was quite empowering, and given the opportunity, I would love to participate in that program or a similar one again.
I think that BC needs to do a better job at promoting these resources. I happened to learn about the self-defense classes by overhearing a conversation in the Maloney elevators and took initiative from there. But BC has so many resources that are just underutilized by students because they are not aware of them or just don’t know how to access them.
At the end of the day, hookup culture is huge on college campuses, and I think that BC should promote these resources so that they ensure the safety of its students. Whether it is a bad Tinder date or an encounter at a Mod party, there should never be a situation where a BC student feels unsafe, and I believe that raising awareness of these programs can help make students more comfortable on campus.