Date Night Provides Escape from College Hookup Culture

Hookup culture is a term often associated with social life college campuses. Not looking for a stable relationship, college students choose to create a culture of casual sex and one-night stands. Colby is no exception. In many cases, this type of culture is attractive to students who are not looking for any relationship commitments. However, college students also often have to deal with the negative effects that come with a hookup culture. Many of the more famous negative effects include a rise of STD and sexual violence risk, but there can be other effects as well.

Of hookup culture, Noah Tocci ’17 said, “having to rely on parties to meet up with someone you are hanging out with or want to hang out with, places a lot of pressure on people and can lead to an unhealthy drinking culture as well.”

This type of culture can also be detrimental to a dating culture. This is especially prevalent in a small, isolated college like Colby. The lack of opportunities and lack of motivation to leave campus often keep students from exploring options for a good date. Additionally, the prominent hookup culture can pressure students. Seeing the lack of relationships on campus can discourage students from pursuing a relationship with another student. Instead of attempting to get to know the person they are attracted to, students often opt for the one-night stand or casual hookup because it is seen as the more widely accepted option.

These problems were at the forefront when Tocci decided to pitch his idea for a “Date Week” last year. Tocci noticed many students who wished the social culture would allow for more opportunities to have a healthy relationship on-campus. This led him to approach Campus Life, proposing an event that would allow students an easy opportunity for a date.

The response to Tocci’s proposal was seemingly overwhelming. Campus Life was on board and Mules Against Violence took the initiative to sponsor a “Date Week” for the week of Valentine’s Day last winter. This event allowed Colby students to take their dates into the Waterville area and explore local restaurants at discounted prices. With discounts up to 20%, many students chose to exercise this new option. Many were ready to take advantage of the off-campus event, while on-campus options were also provided for those without transportation.

The weeklong event was met with a lot of success. Students who once felt the hookup culture was consuming their ability for a healthy relationship had a whole week to explore the dating culture they were looking for. The success of the event sparked Campus Life suggesting that similar events should occur in the future.

This past Friday, Tocci helped organize a new Date Night held at Bob’s dining hall. Sponsored by the SPB, SHOC, Campus Life, SGA, and Sodexo, Colby students were once again given the chance to explore dating culture on campus. The event was met with a pleasantly surprising amount of attendees. People who chose to purchase a ticket were met with a great display of food and a nice space for which to better get to know one another. Students who chose to participate felt this event was successful in providing a space where people could intimately, or even just casually, spend time with one another.

“It is tough to measure what is a success with an event like this,” Tocci explained. “But the way I look at it is if the event facilitated a space in which students appreciated and utilized (whether that be 100+ people or just a handful) then it counts as a success for me.”

Though the event has since concluded, aspiration remains that the social culture will change at Colby enough to accommodate certain people’s want to pursue a relationship. Tocci believes that more events like these can help those people achieve their hopes.

“My hope is to get these events institutionalized and taken on by someone else by the time I graduate next year and it seems like this is fairly feasible.”

The long-term plan is not to shift the social culture on campus overnight. Hookup culture can be beneficial for those who wish to pursue it. Rather, the desire is to get people thinking about what they truly want. Students need to learn how to maintain a steady relationship if they ever wish to have one after they graduate. Creating a culture where this is acceptable creates more social options. At a liberal arts college like Colby, perhaps the addition of a more prominent dating culture is needed in order for the social world to match the amount of options and variety provided in the academic world. Despite these hopes for eventual change, Tocci believes in small victories as well.

“These events hopefully help to shift perspective in some students and each student that questions the hookup culture and its potential negative aspects [because of] this event is seen as a step in the right direction.”

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