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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.”