College Parties, Hookups and Happiness Colloquia



On Feb. 21, Sacred Heart University held a colloquium titled “College Parties, Hookups, and Happiness: What College Students Really Think.”

The discussion was hosted by the Department of Catholic Studies and featured author Dr. Jennifer Beste, Professor of Theology and Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture at the College of St. Benedict.

Dr. Beste began by explaining experiments that she had organized utilizing students as her researchers.  She sent them off to study the party habits of schools spanning 7 states and then used that data to find the correlations between student perceptions of parties and hookups versus their realities.

What Dr. Beste found was that, while a minority of people were happy with things as they are, 9 out of 10 students didn’t enjoy the aspect of the “party scene.”

When her research students asked if a subject was truly happy, only 15 percent gave back a definitive yes answer. Many binge drank and acted promiscuously as a means of fitting in, rather than for enjoyment.

“I know that I may not be happy all the time,” said sophomore Robert Glidden. “Parties are just a great way to take your mind off of things for a while.”

Dr. Beste explained that as part of her study, she posed a question to students: what would it be like to meet Jesus at a college party?

The exercise was meant to make the subject think about what it means to be truly human.  She proceeded from there to talk about the similarities between the way college culture views parties and the three temptations of Jesus in the Bible.

Another main point of her talk was about the necessity of self-love.  Dr. Beste talked about the importance of accepting one’s qualities, even if they aren’t exactly perfect. She talked about how students hunt for perfection when in reality humans are imperfect beings.

Dr. Beste ended the program with a chart outlining the pros and cons of party culture today, especially noting how students today dread showing emotions.  This stems from an intrinsic fear of appearing weak to their classmates and being ostracized.

“I was thrilled to see so many students attend Dr. Beste’s colloquium,” said Dr. Michelle Loris, chair of the Catholic Studies Department. “Her work on the college hook-up culture is very important. Her work, which is based upon undergraduate student accounts of the college social and sexual culture, shows the dehumanizing effects of the hook-up culture, and presents, as a counter to the hook-up culture, what constitutes more authentic sexual freedom, happiness, and fulfillment.”

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