Many universities, especially religiously affiliated ones, state that they seek to foster both the intellectual growth and the ethical development of their students. Such universities set for themselves a rich goal: to educate the whole person, to develop students inside as well as outside the classroom, to enlarge the mind and the heart.
Two problems face such universities, and indeed virtually all universities: binge drinking and a hookup culture. Binge drinking hampers academic excellence insofar as heavy drinkers are more likely to skip class, fall behind in classwork, and have alcohol-related health problems that hamper academic success. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college binge drinking is the leading cause of death in young adults.
In addition to hampering academic excellence, binge drinking also inhibits ethical development by focusing heavy drinkers inwards, on private self-indulgence, rather than outwards to service of others. Binge drinkers are more likely to commit illegal and unjust behaviors, including sexual assault and vandalism. Binge drinking also negatively effects sober or light drinking students who find themselves sexually harassed, insulted, and woken up in the middle of the night.
The other problem on campus, depicted so vividly by Tom Wolfe in I Am Charlotte Simmons, is the hookup culture. Especially for women, hooking up is related to depression, which can damage academic success. Sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and pregnancy scares likewise hinder intellectual focus. The hookup culture also inhibits ethical development through a focus on private indulgence in which other people are used for pleasure, rather than on loving, committed relationships. Its practices also impose on others by displacing roommates who get “sexiled.”
What is the solution to these problems? Although there is no perfect solution, meaningful, significant reductions of the extent of both problems are possible.
The answer is simple. Most parents would view it positively. It is compatible with the traditions of religiously affiliated schools. What one change ameliorates both binge drinking and the hookup culture?
The answer is single-sex student residences. Research indicates that students in single-sex residences are significantly less likely to engage in binge drinking and the hookup culture than students living in co-ed student residences.
Let’s look at the connection between binge drinking and co-ed dorms first.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Why Co-Ed Dorms Are A Bad Idea
A very insightful article that questions the movement toward co-ed dorms. Many universities do not even offer single-sex dorms any longer. This is a bad thing, as explained below: