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Education Reporter

Campus Dating: It's a Man's World
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From an academic achievement perspective, women have a lot to celebrate. According to the American Council on Education, women have represented an average of 57% of American college students since 2000.

But women's predominance on campus corresponds to fewer men. Even though women go to college primarily to earn a degree, they are also interested in romance, and many are frustrated with the dating dynamics on their campuses.

Jayne Dallas is a senior at the University of North Carolina, where nearly 60% of students are female. From her perspective, the actual dating pool of men is even smaller than it appears: "Out of that 40 percent, there are maybe 20 percent that we would consider, and out of those 20, ten have girlfriends, so all the girls are fighting over that other ten percent," she said.

Predictably, the disproportionate ratio of men to women tends to skew dating behavior. Men are more free to play the field, and women, for their part, are more aggressive than they might otherwise be.

"I was talking to a friend at a bar, and this girl just came up out of nowhere, grabbed him by the wrist, spun him around and took him out to the dance floor and started grinding," recounted Kelly Lynch, a junior at North Carolina. Lynch said her girlfriends are more sexually permissive because of the lopsided student population.

"Girls feel pressured to do more than they're comfortable with, to lock it down," she said. "A lot of my friends will meet someone and go home for the night and just hope for the best the next morning."

Katie Delray, a senior at the University of Georgia, concurred. Her campus is only 43% male. As a result, "If a guy is not getting what he wants, he can quickly and abruptly go to the next [girl], because there are so many of us," she said.

Women are also more prone to tolerate unfaithfulness in this environment. "That's a thing that girls let slide," said Emily Kennard, a junior at North Carolina. "If you don't let it slide, you don't have a boyfriend."

Students aren't the only ones to notice the social impact of campus gender imbalance. School administrators and professors have been debating whether it makes sense to admit less academically qualified men to achieve campus gender balance for awhile. Dating dynamics are part of the discussion, both informally and as an area of academic research.

Kathleen A. Bogle, a sociologist at La Salle University in Philadelphia published Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus in 2008. "Women do not want to get left out in the cold, so they are competing for men on men's terms," she explained. "This results in more casual hook-up encounters that do not end up leading to more serious romantic relationships. Since college women say they generally want 'something more' than just a casual hook-up, women end up losing out."

A psychology professor at the University of Georgia is even more blunt in his assessment. "When men have the social power, they create a man's ideal of relationships," said W. Keith Campbell. He thinks women on predominantly female campuses are paying a social price for their academic success, and to some extent are being victimized by men precisely because they have outperformed them.

Even some of the dating-advantaged men aren't entirely satisfied with the situation. "It's awesome being a guy," admitted Garrett Jones, a senior at North Carolina. Still, he complained about a dating culture that generates more hook-ups than relationships. It was only this year, he said, that he finally found a serious girlfriend. (The New York Times, 2-5-10)

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