Studies come before love on today’s campus

With all the September commotion on campuses, said the Toronto Star Sept. 21, there’s one sight that is conspicuously absent from the GTA’s colleges and universities these days: couples. Groups of “friends” gather. Boys and girls carry on polite conversations. And once in a while, if you look really hard you might even spot students holding hands. But don’t count on it. The Star quoted students from three universities – York, the University of Toronto and George Brown Toronto City College – who said studies come first, casual promiscuity is more common now for both men and women, and serious relationships can be stressful.

The Star cited two American studies – by Columbia University researchers in the late ’90s and by Duke University in 2003 – that concluded that serious dating is pretty much dead on campuses. While just a decade ago students at least considered long-term relationships during college or university, the research suggests that for the majority of students now, it’s not even on their radar screen.

The equation of serious relationships with stress is something Scott Pope, director of the Atkinson Counselling and Supervision Centre at York, sees more and more, said the Star. “I’ve been here for 26 years. Over time, what I do see is that education has become much more important to men and women.”

Pope says that while a larger number of female students have become more focused on academics, it’s the same for male students as well. When asked if there’s also a trend toward casual, sexual relationships that could explain why many students no longer pursue serious, long-term relationships, Pope is reluctant to connect the two.

But he says if more students are opting for casual relationships, it might be because of the stress they commonly associate with committed relationships. “Women went to university in the ’50s to find a man. Now it’s to find a job. Young people recognize that they’re going to be working for a large part of their lives – both partners are expected to work. We’ve also artificially extended adolescence by going to university. The focus isn’t family and marriage, it’s a continuation of education. Academics is seen as a very, very stressful experience. To negotiate someone else’s needs and wants when you’re trying to negotiate deadlines and exams, that’s a very complicated procedure.”

Even someone like Brad Ingham, an 18-year-old first-year theatre student in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, who says he would like to meet the right person, admits he’s approaching the idea cautiously.

“Yeah, it’s something I’d like to have here. I’m just looking for someone to spend time with, companionship. But I’m waiting to see how heavy my course load is here. They say the theatre school here owns you from 8 in the morning until 10 at night.

“But, you’re going to have to deal with a relationship eventually, in the workplace, wherever, at some point. You can’t put it off forever. There’s always going to be other stress in your life. A good relationship should help you deal with other stresses. Isn’t university supposed to help prepare you for your future?”

The Post vs. Reuters

Eric Lawee, humanities professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, wrote to the National Post in support of the paper’s policy of inserting descriptions such as “terrorist” in news agency stories about the Middle East. His letter, published Sept. 21, said: “I assume the Post would not rely on stories produced by Chechen or Palestinian news outlets supportive of the massacre of Russian or Israeli schoolchildren. This being so, why not consider the current rift between the Post and the Reuters news agency as an opportunity to cut your ties with the leading ‘Western’ media organ that refuses to call murderous terrorism by its name? Better yet, why not take the lead in encouraging other responsible media outlets on the right side of the epic battle against global terrorism to do the same?”

York venue works for rugby

The new president of Rugby Canada, Roger Smith, is credited with helping to revitalize rugby in this country. At the organization’s annual meeting in Winnipeg, reported the Edmonton Journal Sept. 21, Smith said Canada‘s test versus France last July pulled in 9,000 people at York University and netted $75,000.