Director of Health and Wellness Brock Lutz, Verily Magazine contributor Kathryn Wales, Associate Professor of English Patricia Bart, and Assistant Dean of Men Jeffrey Rogers discuss “hillsdating” in Mossey Library’s Heritage Room Monday.
Sarah Schutte | Courtesy
A cheerful crowd packed into the Heritage Room in Mossey Library on Monday to hear advice on dating, marriage, and love from four experts in a panel sponsored by the Dow Residence.
The panel — which consisted of Director of Health and Wellness Brock Lutz, Associate Professor of English Patricia Bart, Assistant Dean of Men Jeffrey Rogers, and Verily Magazine contributor Kathryn Wales — offered various perspectives on the “hillsdating” phenomenon, what the problems with it are, and how Hillsdale ought to go about fighting it.
“The problem is that we see people get hurt by this,” Lutz said. “These conversations are important for all of you now because they set a certain course for how you’re going to look at marriage and how you’re going to perceive yourself inside of marriage, and I want to be a campus where we have good, healthy relationships.”
According to the Urban Dictionary definition, hillsdating is the term for “a relationship where a guy and a girl who like each other spend every waking moment together but refuse to admit or agree that they are dating.”
The panelists keyed in on several different factors that contribute to Hillsdale’s hillsdating culture, with Wales discussing an overzealous fear of getting a relationship “wrong,” Lutz stressing the importance of open communication, and Rogers emphasizing the responsibility of men in initiating serious conversations about relationships.
“You have to figure out what kind of person is the right fit for you,” Wales said. “But you can’t know that unless you experience different kinds of friendship, different types of people, and these are the kinds of decisions that have to be made by dating — by having dates and getting to know other people.”
Bart argued that too much bluntness too early in a developing relationship can stunt its progress. She also emphasized the importance of young people working to develop a culture in which male-female relationships don’t always need to be all-or-nothing affairs.
“We’ve got some culture-building to do, and we are the very people who are capable of doing it,” Bart said. “If we can’t do it, who can?”
Students in attendance had largely positive things to say about the forum.
“I see a lot of destructive tendencies in dating habits here,” said senior Bailey Bergmann, the student who first suggested the panel. “A lot of people are really afraid to be open and honest with each other about how they feel or how they feel the relationship should go.’”
Senior Timothy Troutner also said he found the panel compelling.
“Brock’s most insightful comment was tracing these issues back to our parents — many of them were raised in a disastrous dating culture, and they reacted by instilling in us a desire to get things right,” Troutner said. “I think he was right that this perfectionism is actually destroying our ability to get what we want.”
Troutner also said there were areas where the panel ought to have been more specific.
“Also, I was uncomfortable that there was so much focus on male leadership and female submission,” he said. “I think the expectation of depending solely on male initiative, rather than a joint development of romantic interest, is part of the culture that leads to hillsdating in the first place.”
On the whole, however, students and faculty found the forum to be a success worth building upon in the future.
“I think we can take away something,” Bart said. “Especially at a place like Hillsdale, we have the chance to build something, to rebuild something and make it new, make it good, and make it better.”