Student Voice


November 30, 2023




Guest speaker brings discussion of hookup culture to campus

March 23, 2016

Last night I had the opportunity to hear Lisa Wade speak about hookup culture on college campuses. Wade has a PhD in sociology from UW-Madison.

Now an associate professor of sociology at Occidental College, Wade has spent her career studying the sexuality of students. She recently finished a book titled “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus.”

Wade researched hookup culture at Occidental by having 101 of them journal their sexual experiences over the course of a semester.

Although I am a student who is in a committed relationship and I haven’t participated in hookup culture at all since I have lived on campus, I found myself hanging on every word Wade said.

Hearing Wade’s discussion expanded my vocabulary, as she used words like pansexual, negging, polyamorous, and feminist sex that I had never heard before.

There is a conception that hooking up in college is a chance for students to explore their sexuality, Wade stated that a lot of hookup experiences are scripted and people who are hooking up tend to do the same things every time.

Wade is not the first one to do research like this. She cited a study done by Brian Sweeny titled “Masculine Status, Sexual Performance and the Sexual Stimulation of Women.”

I learned a little bit about the psychology of men and women and the difference in the way they think about orgasms while hooking up and while having sex in a committed relationship.

The topic was so intriguing that I asked more questions than anyone else in the audience when she opened it up for discussion after she had finished her presentation.

I couldn’t help it, I was so curious. Do students in other countries hookup like American students do? How does hookup culture impact the transmission of STDs? Does the practice of hookup culture in college effect how people have relationships later on in life?

It turns out that students in other countries don’t really hookup the same way as American students, because hookup culture relies heavily on dorm living environments.

Wade also told me that students who participate in hookup culture don’t really think about the potential transmission of STDs and the ones who do think about it are the ones that don’t participate in the culture at all.

The topic of sexual assault came up for a brief time towards the end of Wade’s talk. She cited that four percent of men on campus admit to repeat sexual assault. In her research, she found that some of the stories of sexual assault overlapped in the students’ writings and she got a little teary.

In the end, Wade said that students were mostly dissatisfied with hookup culture and she encouraged students to end it.

After hearing everything she said, I couldn’t help but agree. It seems that nothing good really comes from it. There’s STDs, no feelings of satisfaction, and sexual aggression. Why keep hookup culture going?

Wade was a very captivating speaker, and I could tell that she was passionate about her work. I am excited for her book to come out because I want to know more about the way students hookup in college.

Tori Schneider is an alumna of UW-River Falls.