A common complaint at Colgate says that relationships – those of the special sort between two people – don’t really happen here all that often. A lot of words are thrown around to describe this phenomenon, but one phrase seems to sum it all up: hook-up culture. According to this bit of conventional wisdom, the whole culture of this campus is apparently quite hostile to people out there looking to make relationships.
Well, you know what? I didn’t believe it. Inspired by a fast-approaching Valentine’s Day and sort of under the mandate of my editors, I decided to go out and find the true spirit of St. Valentine here on this campus by interviewing students and hearing their thoughts on the matter.
St. Valentine was a person so committed to making relationships that he found himself imprisoned, stoned and then beheaded for his effort to marry Christians in an oppressive Roman Empire. I figured I could find someone at Colgate who would stand up against the hook-up culture for just one day. The making and breaking of empires could come later.
The first person I talked to wasn’t so encouraging.
“Considering the hook-up culture here and everything,” first-year Shilpa Ahlawat explained, “for Valentine’s Day, you usually think about people in relationships, so I don’t know. I guess it’s just not applicable here.”
Not applicable? It was a stinging rejection, but I could deal with one setback. However, it seemed more were coming.
“I’m single, so Valentine’s Day doesn’t matter much to me,” first-year Casey Hampsey told me. “It’s not a holiday aimed at single people.”
I asked first-year Hana Takada her opinion on the matter.
“Suicide,” she said, mostly jokingly.
In some cases, plain denial seemed to have crept into the mix.
“It’s sweet,” sophomore Chloe Nwangwa said, “but it’s even more fun to just hang with the gal pals than go on a shmoozy date.”
It was bleak. She was so far gone that I almost believed her. Then, suddenly, there came a cause for encouragement as I ran into first-year Taylor Lake.
“I’m in a relationship, so…yay! Valentine’s Day!” she said enthusiastically.
It turned out, however, that her boyfriend didn’t go to Colgate. It didn’t count. By now, I was feeling kind of lost, so I turned to a reliable friend, first-year Denny Gonzalez, to break it down for me.
“Really, what this is going to come down to is Single’s Awareness Day and a greater embrace of the hook-up culture,” he reasoned, “but there might be something. I’ve heard that some people are asking each other out. It’s that time of year.”
Sound words, but my confidence was waning. I was about to throw in the towel when I came upon a few rare Colgate romantics.
“I love Valentine’s Day!” first-year Jackie Ball exclaimed, raising up her arms and sort of spinning around in a circle to emphasize her point. “I feel I have so much love to offer all the world.”
“I like it too,” junior Walfrey Lim joined in. He then paused and finally added, “Just wish I had someone.”
It was something, but clearly not enough. It struck me at this point that perhaps I was looking for the wrong thing in the first place.
“Love doesn’t have to be romantic,” sophomore Nicole Nadal advised me. “It could just be the love you have for your friends. So, on Valentine’s Day, just get your friends together and go out to dinner.”
Perhaps a new definition of a relationship is called for at Colgate. Nonetheless, I still found myself holding out on a hope, a vague notion.
It was then that I met sophomore Kate Byun, a Late Gate intern. Carrying a clumsy pile of pink posters for a Valentine’s Day Late Skate and the midnight premiere of Valentine’s Day the movie at Hamilton Theater, she looked determined. Her working motto, as it turns out, was “bring back the dates.” She could be, almost literally, a poster child for Valentine’s Day.
I felt optimistic. Was the hook-up culture going to go away tomorrow? No, absolutely not. I felt confident, however, that a few people would see these posters and possibly go roller-skating together, as a couple, at Huntington Gym. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.
Contact Tom Wiley at [email protected]