Author: Dean DeChiaro
I think that for many young people, going to college marks an end and a beginning, both sexually and socially. Many teenagers go to college and think of it as the end of innocence, high time to get away from their parents and explore the “outside world,” a world filled with, among other things, a plethora of sex and booze. Other kids come to college and look at it as more of a beginning, perhaps of the rest of their lives, where they can behave as adults, which, in their minds, means the freedoms to drink and hook up as they please.
I say “they” or “college students” because for the purposes of this piece, when speaking of sexuality or social norms, I don’t identify with them. I see my own philosophies on collegiate sexualities as parallel to those of many students. In many ways, I hate thinking of myself as a college student. There were times during my senior year of high school where I was reluctant to even go to college, no matter where. However, here I am, a student at Occidental College, bitter, pessimistic and cynical. This is how I feel in this sea of college students.
This semester I enrolled in Professor Tobin’s CSP seminar entitled Collegiate Sexualities. I think I’m in this class to break binaries, to discover what’s really going on with college students, and to discover whether I can’t stand it here as much as I think, or if maybe there’s something I’m missing. What makes me this way is my setting. I am surrounded by other students whose philosophies are opposite my own. What I see is over a thousand students who get really smashed just so they can hookup with whomever. I’m stuck in a sea of people thinking not with their emotions, but with their libidos. Although I know that this contempt and disillusion comes partly from my past, I’m willing to admit that it also probably comes from my derision of the college campus in general.
Toward registration time last semester, several things in my life happened that made me think a lot about hooking up, the difference between hooking up and relationships, and what motives drive students to engage in one rather than the other. While I grew up in an environment that was dynamic and new-age in its ideals and practices, the role of a “gentleman” was still golden and the pursuit of something as ridiculous and slippery as “true love” was the pilgrimage that every person should make in his or her life. When I arrived here last August, those things seemed to disappear, like ghosts of another world who couldn’t cross the threshold onto campus. Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who frowned and shied away from emotional intimacy, yet were throwing themselves like hyenas at the nearest person of the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been around hooking up before. I was in a circle of about 20 friends in high school, and they’d all had sex with everyone else at least once at some point during junior or senior year, which is why I thought college might be different. Not to say high school wasn’t fun, but I thought that if I had to go to college, at least I might find something different, but I really didn’t.
I would like to test what I believe about what I’ve seen here so far, both in practice and in ideology. I want to know what college students are thinking, because I know it’s not what I’m thinking. Also, in the past, when thinking about these sorts of things I’ve thought about them alone in my room, which doesn’t render good results because there’s no dialogue, no discourse to prove me wrong or even to provide an opposite thought or opinion. I want to know what is going through the minds of college students every weekend, as I watch as Ginsberg said, the greatest minds of my generation be destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the streets at dawn looking for an angry fix.
Is that what’s happening here on this campus? Is this a fear of life? Do we screw around and hook up with as many souls as possible simply to stop the clock, as a way to stay young? Are these hook-ups really just angry fixes in a world dominated by the system that is love? If so, perhaps we should regale, and I should join them. Or should I pursue that life down the highway that leads away from this campus, a place that is actually just an academic and social cage match? That highway is the highway that leads to life. I want to ask myself whether or not this is life. And if I answer it, then fantastic.
If not . . . will I have at least learned whether I should continue holding the collegian masses in the contempt I hold them in now? Or will my views of this college hook-up system be changed? Will I see it in a new light? It’s true that I may stereotype, and even more true that I have stereotyped thus far, but if something doesn’t prove me wrong, then isn’t my crime justified?
Dean DeChiaro is a first-year History major. He can be reached at DeChiaro@oxy.edu.
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