Panel looks at hookup culture at Catholic colleges

By True McManis

   Hooking up on a college campus got people talking Monday, Oct. 22, when a faculty member, two students and an administrator tackled the subject on behalf of Women’s and Gender Studies.

   The discussion stemmed from an article, “Does Hookup Culture Differ on Catholic Campuses?” by Jason King.

   Dr. Luella D’Amico, an assistant professor of English and co-director of the studies program, introduced the panel: Dr. Julie Miller, chair of the Department of Religious Studies; Elijah Salazar, an English major and football player; Silke Gonzalez, a psychology major and president of the Women’s and Gender Studies Club; and UIW graduate Matthew Gonzalez, coordinator of Testing Services.

   The panel’s first task was to define “hooking up.” King’s research on the subject found most campuses, and the hookup culture found on them, can be divided into three tiers. The first tier, “Very Catholic,” is a campus that is predominantly Catholic with more than 80 percent of students considering themselves Catholic, a requirement of three or more theology classes and residence halls segregated by gender. A “Mostly Catholic” campus had at least 75 percent of its students identify as Catholic, but had some coed dorms and a requirement of at least two theology classes. Last was the “Somewhat Catholic” campuses, with 65 percent of students identifying as Catholic, only one theology class required and exclusively coed residence halls.

   King found the definitions and rate of hookups varied according to the type of campus based on the three tiers. Very Catholic campuses reported less than 30 percent of students were involved in hookups, a stark contrast to 70 percent of college campuses in general. Mostly Catholic campuses, perhaps surprisingly, had the highest rate of hookups on Catholic campuses with 55 percent of students getting involved. The middle ground in this study was the Somewhat Catholic campus, with 45 percent of students there participating in hookups.

   Based on King’s criteria, some panelists described UIW as Somewhat Catholic. Some others felt UIW wasn’t a predominately Catholic school, with the attitudes of the students here most accurately reflected by the views at campuses that aren’t predominately Catholic in the article.

   Asked to define hooking up, some panelists said they felt hookups could be as innocuous as making out. Most described hooking up as sex without any expectations or emotions involved.

   One of the more personal questions asked was whether Catholic universities should have a different kind of hookup culture. Many students felt hookups should be addressed or tolerated less at Catholic campuses, contending when you have sex with someone you’re essentially giving them part of your soul and that it should be frowned upon in a Catholic culture. Others felt doing that would be an irresponsible way of addressing the issue, and may make hookups less safe.

   Some said they felt hookup culture is detrimental to women and damages women, but that discussion led to many feeling this made women out to be delicate and vulnerable. According to one student, these thoughts were based on stereotypes and don’t actually represent a lot of women, who engage and enjoy hooking up the same way many men do.

   Some students felt hooking up involved using their partners, a very controversial statement, as others were quick to point out that they felt hooking up was liberating for them.

   The discussion ended with a question as to what students would like UIW to do to address hookup culture. A student said she would have liked for chastity to be discussed with students rather than just abstinence, but someone responded she would prefer if UIW provided condoms to students so those that chose to hook up will have safe options.

   On that note, apparently UIW Health Services offers condoms and nearly nobody in attendance was aware of that. Even though the idea of contraceptives may be inherently anti-Catholic to many, there is an awareness some students are going to have sex regardless of condoms, so offering them for free propagates a much safer environment.

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