IWF has done some groundbreaking work on the subject of the hook-up culture that too often prevails on college campuses. So I was interested in Catholic University President John Garvey‘s op-ed in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Making the case that schools should be concerned not merely with intellect but with virtue, Garvey writes :
I want to mention two places where schools might direct that concern, and a slightly old-fashioned remedy that will improve the practice of virtue. The two most serious ethical challenges college students face are binge drinking and the culture of hooking up….
Hooking up is getting to be as common as drinking. Sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, who heads the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, says that in various studies, 40%-64% of college students report doing it.
The effects are not all fun. Rates of depression reach 20% for young women who have had two or more sexual partners in the last year, almost double the rate for women who have had none. Sexually active young men do more poorly than abstainers in their academic work. And as we have always admonished our own children, sex on these terms is destructive of love and marriage.
Here is one simple step colleges can take to reduce both binge drinking and hooking up: Go back to single-sex residences.
Students living in coed dorms, according to one authority, report weekly drinking binge drinking more than twice as often as those in single-sex housing. They are twice as likely to have had more than three sexual partners in a year. Garvey observes:
I would have thought that young women would have a civilizing influence on young men. Yet the causal arrow seems to run the other way. Young women are trying to keep up-and young men are encouraging them (maybe because it facilitates hooking up).
Since colleges have become factories to funnel smart people into the elite rather than nurturers of virtue, Garvey’s emphasis on virtue is countercultural. I can’t resist one quoting just a bit more from the oped:
I believe that intellect and virtue are connected. They influence one another. Some say the intellect is primary. If we know what is good, we will pursue it. Aristotle suggests in the “Nicomachean Ethics” that the influence runs the other way. He says that if you want to listen intelligently to lectures on ethics you “must have been brought up in good habits.” The goals we set for ourselves are brought into focus by our moral vision.
“Virtue,” Aristotle concludes, “makes us aim at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.” If he is right, then colleges and universities should concern themselves with virtue as well as intellect.
Catholic University is going back to single-sex dorms next year–perhaps affording students less time to binge drink and more time to read Aristotle.