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Hook Up Culture In College: An Original Study

Upsplash: Egor Ivlev

We all know about it. Most of us participate in it. Here are the facts. 

This is an article focusing on ONLY heterosexual relationships and should only be interpreted as such.

We took a deep dive into hook-up culture; we sent out a survey to straight men and women at Elon University, University of Miami, and the University of Texas at Austin. The overall trend is very similar across the nation. We surveyed random students from these three schools to get the scoop on off-campus party hook-up culture. The American Psychological Association defines hookups as, “a brief uncommitted sexual encounter between individuals who are not romantic partners or dating each other… hookups began to become more frequent in the 1920s, with the upsurge of automobiles and novel entertainment, such as movie theaters. Instead of courting at home under a parent's watchful eye, young adults left the home and were able to explore their sexuality more freely.” With feminism on the rise in the 1960s, we start to see even more of a change. When it comes to today’s young adult’s popular culture impacts the shift. It is common to think that only women have a feeling of regret after a hookup but the facts are that both men and women feel regret. 

“A study identified two types of sexual encounters that were particularly predictive of regret: 

  1. Engaging in penetrative intercourse with someone known less than 24 hours 
  2. Engaging in penetrative intercourse with someone only once

Among a sample of 1,743 individuals who had experienced a one-night stand, Campbell (2008) showed that most men and women had combinations of both positive and negative affective reactions following this event.”

The most common response to how often participants attend off-campus parties was “once a week” with 28.8% and “whenever possible” with 19.2%. Over 82% of the students surveyed wrote that they were in a greek organization. 

According to Campus Explorer, “Sociologist Paula England of Stanford University, whose ongoing research since 2005 has surveyed more than 17,000 students from 20 colleges and universities, reported that by senior year, 72% of both sexes reported having at least one hookup, with the average 9.7 for men and 7.1 for women.”

For better or worse, the ‘laws’ of dating have shifted to the point where traditional dating has taken the backseat to non-committal relationships. According to the ratio at Elon University is up to 60% female to 40% male students; this creates an unbalanced ratio and power dynamics especially when it comes to fraternity parties where the men have all the control, Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, suggests that “the higher proportion of women on campuses has contributed to the popularity of the hookup culture. Women made up more than 56% of the college population in 2009, according to the recent census data on enrollments.” 

Here are the results of the survey we sent out nationwide from all three schools: Elon, UMiami, and UT Austin.


  • Let more guys in (ratio)
  • Women get treated like objects
  • Men are not let into parties without certain criteria while women are treated as prizes 
  • People describe themselves as harmless when approaching someone of the opposite sex but describe others as too physical


72.6% Kissed someone you met the same night 

43.8% Slept with someone you met the same night 

50.7% Have been grabbed from behind as a female 

72.6% Prefer to meet someone in person 

38.4% Have slept with someone they met from a dating app 

9.6% Only enjoy sex with people I do not know well 

63% Plan on having a relationship during their four years of college 

When describing how they saw others approach a person of the opposite sex, participants responded…..

  • Flirting, calling their name
  • They kind of just slide up behind you and start dancing
  • Going up to people randomly
  • Men just move to dance up on women, but also it’s a lot of approaching people and saying something small before dancing with them
  • They are dancing near each other until the guy ends up grinding on the girl or grabs her hand
  • They honestly just go to parties to dance and drink, but when they have noticed someone approaching a person of the opposite sex it’s usually been a man approaching a woman and they have noticed it because the man is either harassing the woman or behaving inappropriately to a woman who is too drunk to do anything about it or make any coherent decisions.
  • Very aggressively

Straight woman’s comments on hookup culture 

  • “Our hook-up culture also makes it really difficult, or seemingly so, to try and connect with people for a relationship or more of an FWB thing just because you have to have slept with them first. Most of the people in relationships on campus started by hooking up and then eventually progressing to a relationship.”
  • “Men are hot commodities at Elon. There are maybe 5 guys for every 90 girls at parties here.”
  • “Women are treated like objects/ Men touch women without asking”
  • “They are treated differently. Guys want to get as many girls into parties as possible while restricting the number of other guys so there is a better ratio.”
  • “Men are treated as Gods because the ratio is usually female-heavy which makes them feel like they can have as many as they want (makes them feel like playing four or five girls a night is okay and socially “cool”). Whereas females are treated usually as objects if they meet the beauty standard. Many females don’t feel safe drinking bucket unless they can confirm a frat brother has taken some of it and no one is ever allowed to go anywhere by themself for safety.”

Straight men’s comments on hookup culture 

  • “Women can get into parties easier.”
  • “Women are allowed in and allowed to do whatever they want, but the number of men is policed and oftentimes only brothers or guys they know can come in.”
  • “Before entering, it’s hard for boys to get in unless they have a large group of girls with them.” 
  • “Men are required to get themselves there, know multiple people to get in, have a good ratio of men to women when you show up, make the first move, and provide a drink for women. Women wear scandalous clothes, are allowed in everywhere, and are just expected to take drinks and dance.”
  • “Women are looked at and compared.”
  • “Men aren’t randomly grabbed or expected to be a certain way— women are called slutty or called prudes if they don’t hook up.”
  • “Men aren’t let in, girls are sexualized and grabbed.’’

Things people think should change 

  • Have guys at the door check to see if every girl leaving is okay
  • Stop slut-shaming
  • Boys should want to get to know a girl before sleeping with them
  • How men are raised
  • The uneven power dynamics
  • Put more women in charge of organizing parties and provide resources at parties in case of harassment or assault or discomfort
  • Bring safe rides back and free drink drug testing strips so girls feel safer
  • “I would change how parties are set up because most of the time it’s set up to display the females while men can prowl on the outskirts to see who they will go up to next. I also would change the bucket style to a bar style so that females can feel safer and also enjoy their time there.”

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