Students discuss U.Va. hookup culture
Off the Hook hosts panel to address relationships, 'hooking up at universities
The student organization Off the Hook hosted a panel Thursday evening discussing the hookup culture at the University. Student panelists led a question-and-answer style discussion to talk about their own experiences with hookup culture and how they perceive hookup cultures at universities in general.
Third-year College students Mirenda Gwin and Christina Hadford of Off the Hook said they decided to host the event to promote an alternative to a culture that promotes “hooking up” in college. The organization wants to emphasize that sex is not necessary for a relationship to be healthy, Gwin said.
“We’ve noticed that a lot of advocacy on Grounds, especially by the University, is saying if you’re having sex here’s how to do it safer, and we wanted to round that out by saying if you’re not having sex, that’s also okay,” Hadford said.
The four panelists were University students with a variety of backgrounds — from Greek organizations, the Batten School, the Education School and the College. Gwin and Hadford said they chose upperclassmen because they wanted students to hear from peers who could talk about their entire experience at the University.
The student panelists said coming to the University from different high school backgrounds, many of them had expectations of what a college hookup culture would be like.
“Coming into college as a first year, even thinking back before that in high school, I had this understanding that I never wanted to get involved in that culture because I always wanted something more out of a relationship,” fourth-year Batten student Sophia Urban said. “When I came to college, I already had that mindset, and it was easier for me to not get caught up in that culture even though I had friends who were going out and hooking up.”
Elliot Campbell, a fourth-year College student, said he believes hookup culture is a result of a kind of sexual economics. “In many colleges, there are more females than males,” he said. “Because there are so many females, the men get to set the norms … so generally if you want a relationship, there are others who want relationships and sex, and your ‘price’ is too high if there are others who will have a relationship without sex.”
Fourth-year Batten student Liz Minneman said she wanted to speak to other women about the hookup culture to empower them and let them know there are other options than hooking up.
“My mom went to U.Va. years ago, and she said hooking up wasn’t a thing — women wanted to get married,” Minneman said. “I think it’s great that women are now able to go and get a job and be independent, but I’ve felt a lot of pressure at U.Va. during my time here to not think about my plans to want to get married.” She said although she understands not everyone wants to get married, she would like to see a change in the hookup culture at the University.
Urban said she believes people should ultimately make their own decisions without feeling pressured to conform to a hookup culture. “With my experiences in college, there are always going to be opportunities to hook up with somebody,” she said. “I think it takes a lot of courage to stand up and not want to participate in that. Don’t feel like you ever need to settle.”