SAAP events look at the ‘hook-up’ culture
By Kristin Szostek
Published on Wednesday, October 16, 2002
What started out as an event to provide first-year students with a chance to hear upperclassmen talk about relationships and sex at Dartmouth turned into a forum for older students to voice their personal views on the subject, as groups gathered Monday and Tuesday night for a Sexual Abuse Awareness Program-sponsored event billed, "Sex, Relationships & the Social Scene at Dartmouth."
Each night a small group of students gathered on the couches and floors of Delta Delta Delta and Epsilon Kappa Theta sororities amid soda and snacks in order to informally discuss the College's social arena.
Both scheduled speakers and audience members spoke openly about their brushes with the so-called "hook-up scene" and the ups and downs of dating at Dartmouth.
Monday night's event, held at EKT, attracted a total of five first-years -- all women.
The conversation centered around self-respect and awareness when venturing into Dartmouth's social life.
One speaker, LeVaur Livingstone '02, summed up the general message of the upperclassmen best, saying, "you need to be you and then everything will be good."
During the discussion portion of the talks, several '03 audience members stressed to the first-years that they should respect themselves and not be pressured into unwanted activities.
Many upperclass women also made sure to point out that "hooking up" was not a way to earn older guys' respect.
While the upperclass students directed their comments toward the '06s in the room, the discussion was also an opportunity for the older students to voice their own feelings about the Dartmouth social scene.
The first-year students themselves were noticeably quiet throughout the discussion.
The first speaker of the night, Adam Salem '03, later commented that he was "glad it was very honest [because] that's the only way to get a real perspective."
The event's organizers, SAAP Coordinator Abby Tassel and Sexual Abuse Peer Advisor Intern Kathleen Szilagyi '03, agreed that the discussion went extremely well, and said that the small turnout actually fostered a more intimate, honest conversation.
However, several of the first-year women who attended agreed that while the older girls' perspectives were helpful and forced them to think, the talk was rather "bitter" and "depressing."
The first-year turnout did not improve the second night at Tri-Delt, with only seven '06s present.
However, while last night's event was similarly structured -- starting with a group of speakers, then opening up to a larger conversation -- the dynamic was quite different.
The discussion that evolved was an interesting mix, touching on individuals' opinions of the Dartmouth "scene" as well as recitals of various personal experiences.
Toward the end of the event, the mood became more somber as the conversation turned to the sensitive subject of sexual assault at Dartmouth.
Several women cited friends' experiences with sexual assault as a turning point in their view of the campus social scene.
Unfortunately for the event's organizers, all but one '06 had left directly after the speeches and did not hear the group conversation, a more honest peek into the Dartmouth social experience than most first-years will learn from booklets or their UGAs.
The desire to share was clearly on the upperclassmen's side. Tassel explained that the event evolved due to the requests of several upperclass women, not an administrative decision.
"It was a unique experience for the speakers," said Szilagyi.
Two similar events were held last week at Kappa Delta Epsilon and Sigma Delta sororities, but were not programmed specifically for first-year students.
Tassel and Szilagyi estimated that about 75 percent of those in attendance last week were also upperclassmen.