Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Dating 101 at Boston College

When I was at BC, losing the good fight against heresy and clinical depression, I spent a lot of time trying to suck up comfort at the big book lined room called the Lonergan Institute. There I met the wonderful Kerry Cr*nin, a fellow Single, who cared about students more than any other faculty member I met at BC.* She was ALL about the students. And even then she was simply gobsmacked at the BC hookup culture.

I think I was in the LI when an elderly professor giving a seminar on some chapter of some work of Lonergan described for us grad students what frosh parties at BC were like. Apparently these teenagers would meet in a dorm room with a keg of beer in it and drink until they had overcome enough of their religious and moral scruples, which someone had taught them to call inhibitions, to have sex with each other.

The professor seemed philosophical about this, as if the American teenagers whose parents were paying BC $40,000 a year to house and educate their children were monkeys or space aliens, not foolish young human beings whose behaviour could have damned their immortal souls to hell. Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot that the Church was completely wrong on that score until Vatican II when it returned to the purity of 34 AD and said God couldn't care less about your sexual choices and you go to hell only for such unforgivable crimes as racist abuse and sneering at the Koran. I'm sure this is written down somewhere, I'm totally sure. NOT.

I was horrified, not just by the teenage orgies but by the gentle acceptance of what was (when you consider the booze) criminal behaviour, and my horror only added to my depression. (That professor was actually quite a genius at saying exactly what was wrong and horrible about life at BC but then gently snickering. When you consider the power, prestige and profit of a tenured prof at BC, you can guess why. No skin off his nose, Jack. Not that I am ferociously bitter and have just remembered the ice-cream in the fridge or anything. But no. I am not going to eat the ice-cream because eating the ice-cream is why I left BC not just mentally ill but fatter.)

Anyway, when the soi-disant top Catholic university in New England is partly peopled by freshmen who **** each other at illegal drunken orgies on campus, it is nice to find out that someone has tried to do something about it. And it is not a surprise to me that that person is Kerry. Kerry is the only person at BC who makes me think the $40,000 spent by American parents on their 17 year old's first year at uni might actual be worth it.

What Kerry does is teach a course to the freshman about how to relate to each other and, in fact, to date. The latest news article on the subject of her brilliant course is here.

*That said, I was a grad student, i.e. a pawn/redshirt/cannon fodder in the departmental civil war. (My side lost a few months before I arrived, but there was still some mopping up action.) I met many undergrads who loved BC. Even deeply devout, orthodox students I met loved being undergrads at BC, though they kept hella clear of the theology department, except to see Prof Kreeft in the philosophy wing. I remember once talking to a heterodox colleague who was shaken to his core because one of the undergrads I knew had written something critical of heterodoxy in the student paper. It was against a proposed All Religious are Equal day, or something like that. My colleague, a very nice chap, a married man, well-liked by professors, was actually frightened and sad.

Update: Hmm. I see that I cannot summon a calm objective tone about BC even now. Let me see. It's May, so it has been exactly seven years since my brother drove me home. I'm still angry. Ignore me and talk about the article.


Domestic Diva said...

I love the article and plan to forward it to friends who work with teens (high school and college age).

The problem identified in the article - that people don't know how to date but only know how to "hook up" - seems to be the latest devolution in male/female "courting" patterns. My mother's father would not allow her to go out with the same guy twice in a row..."everybody" dated as friends, and my grandfather believed that high school was a time for learning how to have healthy *friendships* with the opposite sex. But when I was in high school, nobody I knew dated a friend...couples were "going together" (ie - exclusive) and if you went on a date with someone you weren't officially "going with" then it was likely to be official by Monday morning. My generation wasn't that great at just being friends with the opposite sex (but we did communicate in person). Since texting, etc. gives people an easy out from the hard work of person-to-person communication, and since my generation eliminated the expectation of friendship in dating, then the present problem of not knowing how to date or even how to ask people out but only how to "hook up" seems like a natural next step.

Let's go back to preaching "It's just coffee!" shall we?

Julia said...

Religious and moral convictions aside, I just don't understand how people aren't terrified of STDs. There's now evidence to suggest that HPV-infected women can pass on the virus to their unborn babies not only via natural birth, but also through the placenta, infecting the babies' BRAINS: http://www.miriamgrossmanmd.com/say-its-not-so-hpv-in-the-brain/

Dating? Well, I've only ever been asked out via Facebook (I'm 23). For various reasons, I've decided to ditch Facebook at least for awhile. Maybe permanently. But it does make me wonder what guys do when they find out you don't have Facebook, because these days the line is not so much, 'What's your number?' but 'I'll add you on Facebook' or 'Do you have Facebook?' (Of course, some guys who seem keen will add you on Facebook and then do nothing about it, and they've probably also rifled through your timeline and photos. I don't have anything on there that I wish to hide, and my profile is minimal, but it is true that by looking though my timeline and photos, a guy could find stuff out about me that he usually would only have found out after speaking to me more. For example, the names of my siblings, the fact that I go to this or that parish.) So I think that social media is really a double-edged sword.

Aquinas' Goose said...

Seraphic, as someone who is currently ABD and in a mild pickle about the whole thing at a state university (having gotten a master's in religious studies from a highly conservative seminary) I can partially understand what you're going through! Prayers are being sent your way that one day that anger can be laid to rest and that, in the meanwhile, that anger can be used in the way anger was meant to be used: to keep the innocent from become wolf fodder.

Pearlmusic said...

A very inspiring article. And it shows that a single teacher can sometimes do a lot in order to help their students navigate the dating scene.
As a teacher of young adults, I often wonder what my role a Single teacher can be when I observe things that alarm me. Sometimes I see when a girl gets involved with a guy and it affects badly the way she’s doing in the class (it is usually about girls, rarely the opposite). I cannot call myself an expert in dating and relationships and sometimes I am afraid I have no authority as Single. And, after all, they’re adults (that does not equal grown-ups) and they’re supposed to know what they’re doing. So if it doesn’t affect the learning process I don’t usually interfere; but what if it does?
Any remarks upon how to handle this?

Pearlmusic said...

PS: My workplace is a secular institution, to be clear.