College Students Challenge Peers to Take Critical Look at Promiscuity on Campus

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from the Love and Fidelity Network

PRINCETON, NJ—What was once a holiday for showing appreciation and affection to loved ones has increasingly become an excuse to celebrate promiscuity and raunchy behavior on college campuses.  But this Valentine’s Day a growing number of college men and women are calling this “hook-up culture” out for the harmful messages and unhealthy behaviors it promotes by challenging their peers to a hard look at the realities of the college hook-up scene through a poster and web-based campaign Words That Still Matter.

The week of February 11-15, students at 25 universities, including Harvard, Georgetown, Stanford, and Holy Cross will hang 4,400 posters across campus, feature ads in their campus newspapers, and for the first time this year, use social media to share the campaign’s interactive website—which will go live early next week—where readers will be able to share their own anonymous stories. Students at several schools including Harvard, Stanford, and Franciscan University will host additional events around Valentine’s Day, highlighting the value of healthy relationships through initiatives including table displays, book give-aways, campus-wide lectures, and opinion editorials.

The 8 posters, which resemble vintage protest ads, each prominently feature a different aspirational word – integrity, dignity, strength, and romance – age-old virtues that matter no less today than they did centuries ago. Then follows the internal monologue a young man or woman might have regarding that word and how it applies to their sexual habits and their personal aspirations.  By juxtaposing these positive words with raw personal reflections, the campaign seeks to show the discrepancy between what young men and women aspire to on the one hand, and where the hookup culture leads them on the other, demonstrating that these words do still matter. The website features animated versions of the posters as well as extended versions of each monologue that delve deeper into the young man or woman’s experience.

The campaign sends the message that the hook-up culture forces students to settle for less than who they are and less than what they want in their sexual lives and relationships. Director of Programs Caitlin Seery said, “Many students have very real questions about the hook-up culture – ‘Is this really all there is?’ ‘Why do I want more?’ ‘Is this what it means to be a man?’ ‘Is there something wrong with me that this doesn’t make me happy?’ – but because the consequence-free sexual culture is so pervasive, they are often afraid to ask, thinking that there is something wrong with them rather than something wrong with the culture of cheap sex.

“The goal of our campaign is to spark deep conversations in which students critically engage questions about our hyper-sexualized culture. We aim for students to realize they are better than what the hook-up culture offers by highlighting the dissonance between the positive character traits that students aspire to cultivate and the reality of the consequences that the hook-up culture produces,” Seery added.

The Love and Fidelity Network is the leading national program that defends marriage and the integrity of sex at the collegiate level. It aims to equip college students with the arguments, resources, and support they need to uphold the institution of marriage, the special role of the family in society, and the integrity of human sexuality within their university communities and as leaders in the public square. The Network was established in Princeton, NJ in 2007 in response to the inadequate treatment of marriage, family, and sexuality at many colleges and universities and provides leadership coaching to these university men and women and offers funding for campus initiatives. Today, the Love and Fidelity Network actively supports nearly 60 student fellows and campus groups at 25 schools. The Love and Fidelity Network is the principal program of the Collegiate Cultural Foundation.

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