The Grisly Underbelly of the American College

In 2005, Christianity Today published an important article by Dr. Vigen Guroian called Dorm Brothel: The new debauchery and the colleges that let it happen in which he claimed that the sexual revolution of the 1960’s was “not won with guns but with genital groping aided and abetted by colleges that forfeited the responsibilities of in loco parentis and have gone into the pimping and brothel business.” He refers to much of the college experience, particularly the one that takes place in the dorms and halls of most universities, as a “sex carnival” that is damaging the character of the young men he teaches and is “deforming” their attitudes towards the opposite sex. No longer are these young men gentlemen, nor do they have any concept of what such a term actually means.

Of course, Dr. Guroian reminds his reader, the deformation of the attitudes of young men towards women is most damaging to the young women themselves, and it is they who bear the brunt of the carnivalesque “dorm brothel.” He wrote: “in most American college coed dorms, the flesh of our daughters is being served up daily like snack jerky. No longer need young men be wolves or foxes to consume that flesh. There are no fences to jump or chicken coops to break into. The gates are wide open and no guard dogs have been posted. It is easy come and easy go”

He goes on to say that “the lure and availability of sexual adventure that our colleges afford is teaching young women also to pursue sexual pleasures aggressively. Yet, based on my own conversations and observations, there is no doubt that young women today are far more vulnerable to sexual abuse and mistreatment by young men than when I was a college student, simply because the institutional arrangements that protected young women are gone and the new climate says everything goes.” Today’s colleges, he argues, “foster and invite” a lackadaisical, loose, promiscuous approach to sexuality via the conditions they set up – especially the widely accepted co-ed dormitory.

Thus in the classroom young women are told they should approach their intellectual lives with an eye toward the future, with the drive and purpose to shatter the glass ceiling so many college girls face, yet in their dorms, in their relationships, in the world outside of the classroom they are told they should perceive themselves and their bodies, their sexuality, with a casualness that suggests that what they do in bed has nothing to do with what happens outside of it. Hence, they can without shame have sex one bed over from some boy’s watching room mate, uncovered and not concerned about what they are showing of themselves. Or, as Dr. Guroian wrote, “They begin to imagine–though few entirely believe it–that they can use (that is, abuse) their bodies as they please for pleasure, and that choosing to do so has nothing to do with their academic studies or future lives. In reality, they are following a formula for self-disintegration and failure.”

This, he argues, is the “grisly underbelly of the American college.” And that we accept it is inexcusable.

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