Modern College Culture: Sex, Booze & Entitlement?

Modern College Culture: Sex, Booze & Entitlement?
Susan Dutca-Lovell

College is supposed to be the best four years of your life. Or as one sociology professor claims: "a big four-year orgy." Was college always this fun? History may indicate otherwise, and Lisa Wade highlights a "demographic shift" 300 years ago that changed the college campus landscape and made colleges bastions of sex, booze, and entitlement.

U.S. colleges during the colonial era were more of a "veritable straightjacket of petty rules" than a "big four-year orgy," comprised of "relatively humble middle-class men studying to be ministers."

From the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, wealthier sons of elite families entered higher education and started "objecting to everything from the quality of the food to the rigidity of schedules to the content of curriculum."

Union College in Schenectady, NY orphaned many of the lone rebellion students who were expelled and banned from other institutions. Union College became home to one of the biggest, rebellious fraternities: Kappa Alpha, the first social fraternity according to Wade.

Fraternities started promoting "status, exclusion, and indulgence" rather than ideals of "humility, equality, morality." Immersed in a lifestyle chock-full of "recklessness and irresponsibility," fraternity men shamed those who preferred to study and instead encouraged "extracurricular activities, camaraderie, athletics, having fun" and eventually, "sexual conquest."

More females on college campuses meant men didn't have to have sex with only poor women, enslaved women or prostitutes, “extracting sexual favors from women who weren’t supposed to give them out” became a form of competition for frat men and a way to earn brotherly respect and admiration. Fraternities starting lowering their member standards by pledging any members as long as they were not "personally unattractive." Here is where the modern-day "frat boy" emerged. Soon enough, the “frequently depicted, relentlessly glamourized” ideal of the frat boy became “the way of doing college.” College administrators tried to reinforce strict rules, but the baby boomers completely “put an end to that control.”

The 1978 release of Animal House brought forth an aggressive marketing of alcohol to campuses. Even with the U.S. government's effort to reduce highway deaths by pushing schools to up the legal drinking age from 18 to 21, students continued their partying endeavors off-campus.

According to Wade, colleges influence "whether and how [students] have sex," further promote the "big four-year orgy by offering the same incentives seen by "the same set of privileged students that brought partying to higher education in the first place." Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

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