MANASSAS, Virginia, June 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new report has revealed the extent of the “hook-up” culture on Catholic college campuses and warns of the emotional and physical costs of casual sex among students.
The report, published by The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, reviews the social science literature that has been published over the last twenty years on student behavior and college policies, including the impact of single-sex residences.
“Hooking up” is defined by researchers as casual, noncommittal sexual activity ranging from sensual kissing to intercourse.
“Whatever the origins, the reality is that hooking up has become the dominant script for sexual and romantic relationships on Catholic and secular campuses,” write the study’s authors, Dr. Anne Hendershott and Nicholas Dunn. Hendershott is the Pope John Paul II Fellow in Student Development for the CNS Center and an accomplished sociologist, whose works include “Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education,” “The Politics of Abortion” and “The Reluctant Caregivers.”
The report, titled “The ‘Hook-Up’ Culture on Catholic Campuses,” is available at the website of The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education here.
The authors note studies showing that heavy use of alcohol correlates strongly with promiscuity on college campuses, and both are tied to coed living arrangements. They cite data indicating that students in coed dorms are roughly twice a likely to drink heavily and engage in binge drinking, and also to have multiple sexual partners.
These problems, they point out, are inadequately confronted by student affairs administrators and residence hall staff who often are expected to be non-judgmental and are not well trained how to operate in a Catholic living environment.
“Today, it appears that many student life administrators have moved from a pro-active role in helping to facilitate healthy pair bonding to a reactive role in helping to pick up the pieces and repairing the very real damages when a degraded campus culture of casual sex emerges,” the authors write.
The report is a product of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Love and Responsibility Program, which helps Catholic colleges and universities develop a campus culture where students embrace an assumption of sobriety and chastity. CNS is working with experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology, student affairs and campus ministry to identify programs and policies that can be tested and replicated on both Catholic and secular campuses.
“For Catholic colleges that are faithful to Catholic teaching and share concern for the moral development of students, the ‘hook-up’ culture is a scandal and an embarrassment,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society.
“But both the problems and the solutions do not depend on religion, they are apparent in the social science data. The way forward is becoming clear, and now college leaders need the will to confront a damaging campus culture.”
The report concludes with a sign of hope: the “counter-culture” emerging on many Catholic and secular campuses, with students taking the lead in promoting a culture of chastity and traditional values.
The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, a publication of CNS, provides parents with a list of institutions that strive to promote and cultivate Christian behavior among their students.