Condoms - Cameron Yong/HIGHLANDER

The second the doors of the residence halls open, a wave of jubilant commotion infuses the lobby and titillates our inquisitive ears. But if you really take the time and dissect the various conversations happening around you, whether it’s in the dining hall or between the dorm room walls, it seems as though the most popular topic of discussion involves freshmen hookups.

Although hookup culture exists throughout all four years of college, it is statistically proven through a survey done in the University of Northern Colorado in 2010 that over 60 percent of students “hooked up” before their first semester in college ended. The question we ask ourselves is “Why do freshmen hook up so often?”

There’s no other way to formulate an accurate answer but to ask the class of 2018 itself. I interviewed seven male and female freshmen who gave versatile reasons as to why we hook up more frequently than upperclassmen. Respondents of both genders collectively mentioned the exploration of freedom that was unobtainable with the confined chains of parenthood during their high school days. In addition to the absence of parental restriction, some freshmen believed that the environment — not necessarily UCR, but the college life itself — bolstered the hookup culture even more. Media and cultural studies freshman Sachi McCullough said, “UCR as a specific school is neutral, but college in general promotes hooking up. We can party, drink and for the first time, kids are free to do whatever they want without their parents even knowing about (it).”

However, some respondents disagreed with McCullough’s opinion of UCR’s neutrality and instead believed that our school did in fact acknowledge this issue. Freshman Ashley November believes that UCR is aware of the hookup culture but decides to take a subtle approach toward promoting safer sex rather than hindering sex altogether. “They know we’re going to eventually do something, so UCR is taking precautions by hosting Sexplanations and providing free condoms everywhere,” said November. In this day and age, encouraging students to practice safer sex is seemingly more effective than enforcing abstinence.

All 14 freshmen shared similar standpoints on the instigators of hooking up, but when I asked them whether or not it was morally acceptable for both men and women to hook up, the responses were radically polarized. I realized that the way people defined a “hookup” determined how morally acceptable the act is. Freshmen Daniel Ruppert-Majer and Cameron Tuck both deemed a hookup as a casual “make out” and not necessarily sexual intercourse. Both believed that it is morally acceptable to hook up just as long as both parties are consensual. But we must keep in mind Tuck’s and Ruppert-Majer’s definition of “hooking up” because a kiss on the lips is far more trivial than making the bed rock. In juxtaposition to the men’s argument on the moral acceptability of hooking up, some female respondents expressed that it was morally unacceptable for women to engage in such an act, because their definition of a hookup is having sex rather than kissing.

The arguments made from both female and male perspectives bring about the overarching issue of gender equality when it comes to hooking up. Freshman Edgar Soto, when asked about the difference between hooking up for a man than for a woman said, “There’s a double standard. If a woman were to hook up, she’s frowned upon and seen as dirty whereas a man would be regarded with respect.” The reference of “double standards” was revisited by November when she said that “slut-shaming” was not a problem of the past but rather a problem that still needs to be resolved today. So if a woman were to casually hook up on a Friday night, she would wake up the next morning with a tainted reputation and a new nickname: “That Hoe.”

There is never a correct standpoint, or quintessential morality that everyone can accept. But hearing what others have to say about hookup culture and its various facets gives students a chance to determine their own personal view on this heated issue. Remember, this is personal preference-driven — there’s no judgment here.