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Monday May 10th

Survey studies UNC's hook-up culture

The Duke University student who created a PowerPoint presentation chronicling her sexual escapades has inspired more than witty banter.

Four UNC students are currently conducting a study to explore the University’s hook-up culture in a more serious fashion.

“In response to the Duke student’s PowerPoint we formed questions to try and elicit responses from UNC students so we could analyze their own hook-ups and evaluate their behavior,” said Lauren Tevelow, a senior and member of the group conducting the study, which is a project for the students’ COMM 350: Practices of Cultural Studies class.

Duke alumna Karen Owen incited a national uproar when the PowerPoint about her sexual experiences at Duke emerged earlier this semester.

Owen’s PowerPoint prompted polarized opinions of her actions to emerge, said Lori Baldwin, a senior and member of the group.

While some people said demeaning things about her, others praised her for doing wonderful things for feminism, Baldwin said.

“Owens’ act was political in the sense that it acted outside of social norms,” she said. “Rating men and creating a grading system is looked upon as a masculine act. She did it as a woman and that was looked upon as a political act.”

More than 300 students have taken the online survey so far.

The survey asks respondents to evaluate statements such as: I regret my hook-ups; when I hook up with someone for the first time I know them well; and alcohol has played a role in my hook-ups.

In preliminary results, the most common reason for hooking up or not was level of attraction, and 62 percent said alcohol plays a role at least sometimes.

Baldwin said the group wanted to emphasize a different angle than what had previously been covered regarding hook-up cultures.

“We wanted to expand outside of the public health point of view and look into the cultural aspects of it,” said Baldwin.

“Academic research often portrays sex as a series of risks and forms a perspective that creates a sex-negative viewpoint,” she said. “If combated from a neutral perspective, we can explore a lot of the cultural ramifications of hooking up.”

Baldwin added that the subject of the survey is prevalent at the University, and that is what prompted the group to choose the topic.

“There is a hook-up culture at UNC,” she said. “Hooking up is not an isolated act. There is a series of expectations and social norms that surround this physical act.”

J. Nikol Beckham, the class’ professor, said she thought the group’s cultural angle was compelling.

“They’ve chosen to take a very interesting approach to the subject,” she said.

Other topics explored in her class include cell phone addiction, popular music and free speech on campus.

Tevelow said it has been interesting to compare the coverage the hook-up culture has received in the media to students’ actions.

“Even though their hook-ups could just have been based on physical attraction, we found that most people aren’t regretting their actions,” Tevelow said.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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