This was a great article today in the Wall Street Journal — both encouraging and sad at the same time: “Why We’re Going Back to Single-Sex Dorms” (behind a paywall, I’m afraid) by president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Mr. John Garvey.
In it, he notes that studies show that the percentage of college students who engage in binge drinking and “hooking up” (what horrible lingo; for those who don’t know, think “engaging in impersonal, meaningless sexual activity”) is worse among those who live in co-ed housing than in single-sex dorms. For instance (from the article):
I know it’s countercultural [that is, the idea of going back to single-sex dorms]. More than 90% of college housing is now co-ed. But Christopher Kaczor at Loyola Marymount points to a surprising number of studies showing that students in co-ed dorms (41.5%) report weekly binge drinking more than twice as often as students in single-sex housing (17.6%). Similarly, students in co-ed housing are more likely (55.7%) than students in single-sex dorms (36.8%) to have had a sexual partner in the last year—and more than twice as likely to have had three or more.
The idea that going back to single-sex dorms is now “countercultural” caused me to do a double-take. How weird our culture has become.
As Garvey points out in his column, the point about increased sexual activity by students in co-ed dorms may be no surprise, but the increase in binge drinking is. The thought he mentions that some may have that the presence of ladies in the housing might have caused the men there to be a bit more civilized just isn’t true. In fact, the girls apparently seem eager to prove that they can “keep up.”
I am reminded here of an article I read earlier this year (can’t find the link) that showed a relationship between college students and sexual behavior — when there were more women than men, there was more fornication, when there were fewer women than men, there was less fornication. The explanation was that with an abundance of available women, the pressure was on them to compete for the affection of the men, leading to purposefully loosened sexual barriers. However, when there were fewer women, the men had to compete more for the attention of the ladies and, thus, reigned themselves in properly. Perhaps there is something similar at play here in the co-ed vs. single-sex dorm comparison. Regardless, whatever forces are at play are clearly destructive to good character.
Parents shouldn’t take these things lightly when their children are making those decisions about college. “Well, our Johnny is a good young man, and he’ll do fine in a co-ed dorm.” As Paul tells us, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits'” (1 Cor. 15:33). To pretend Johnny won’t be affected by the environment surrounding him — just like assuming you aren’t affected by your environment — is a losing game. As I mentioned above, it seems odd to me that single-sex dorms are now countercultural, it shouldn’t be surprising. Standing for godly morals and virtues is, in general, becoming countercultural. But stand, we should.