Navigating the Murky Waters of the Oxy Dating Pool

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Author: Lizeth Castillo

Dating at Oxy has always been a topic of interest to me and just about every other person on campus. It’s been said that college is where you’ll meet the love of your life, the person you’re going to marry. And every time I see campus dining setting out tables for a reception, or a soon-to-be-married couple holding a dress rehearsal on Branca Patio, I can’t help but ask, “How’d they do it?”

After three years of watching my friends get hurt, strangers find love (and inevitably later lose it) on an Oxy dance floor, an endless amount of overheard conversations about why he hasn’t called or why she acts like she doesn’t care (and a fair amount of disappointing encounters myself), I wonder: in the constant melee for love, do Oxy students get the short end of the stick?

I’ve come to the realization that dating at Oxy is indeed possible. So, what’s the catch? (Naturally, there’s always a catch.) Dating takes a distinctive, almost unrecognizable, form on this campus. Love gives way to habit, romance to shared marketplace meals followed by a pirated movie, and chivalry to drunken lust. As opposed to a kind of black and white definitive situation where you’re either dating or you’re not, Oxy operates under an eternal shade of gray – where you’re never really sure what you are to the object of your affection.

Indeed, Oxy dating functions on a completely different scale than the rest of the world. Sabrina Strand (senior) was informed of exactly this upon entering Oxy’s social landscape her first year. During orientation, her O-Team leader told her about the difference between the Oxy scale and the real world scale. Where a significant other might be a 10 on the Oxy scale – generally a great catch – said person would be a three on the real world scale. “I think dates at Oxy don’t meet the norm,” Strand said. “Men and women don’t go out on these defined dates, they’re rare and few. Dating [at Oxy] used to be what everyone else called dating, then it just fell off. Maybe it’s the ratio.”

But what is it about Oxy that creates this distorted dating scene? Is it the size of the campus, or the general disposition of the student body? I would argue it’s the perfectly twisted mix of both. Not only is the fish-pool incredibly small on this campus, but the likelihood of finding someone willing or capable of putting in the work for a relationship is ridiculously small.

Dating at Oxy has always been a topic of interest to me and just about every other person on campus. It’s been said that college is where you’ll meet the love of your life, the person you’re going to marry. And every time I see campus dining setting out tables for a reception, or a soon-to-be-married couple holding a dress rehearsal on Branca Patio, I can’t help but ask, “How’d they do it?”

“Sometimes it’s hard to date because everyone’s so busy,” Stephi Chin (junior) said. Strand shares the same sentiment. “I think guys don’t want to commit because there’s so many fish they can explore here,” she said.

Oxy dances and parties tend to provide the perfect window of opportunity to see what the Oxy dating scene can offer. It’s undeniable that drunken weekend hook-ups are a vital part of the dating scene on campus. Alex Safransky (senior) agrees. “Before anyone around them knows what happened, the two are either spending every moment and night together like a married couple or completely go in opposite directions and go after someone else,” he said. “There is rarely any middle ground that involves going on dates, talking over a meal or other things that people in the real world tend to do. The Occidental student body is either single or married.”

Nonda Hanneman (senior) shares almost the same kind of sentiment toward dating at Oxy. “When you see someone five times a day and know all of their friends and/or past relationships, it’s hard to leave any mystery,” she said. “It seems that a lot of couples disappear, because it’s so easy to spend time with only your significant other when the campus is so small. I don’t think this is everyone’s experience, and it’s not necessarily mine, but it is a big trend I’ve noticed.”

Most of the time, the size of the campus can account for how messy Oxy dating can get. “I think that the proverbial ‘bubble’ and the normative ‘exclusively hooking up, but not dating’ or ‘it’s awkward because I see him/her or his/her friends everyday’ scenarios reinforce the idea that Oxy is incestuous,” Dwight Hobbs (junior) said.

In addition to the general degradation of the dating ideal on our campus, availability, too, becomes gray-scaled. The most obvious problem of availability would be the lack thereof, seeing as there are only about 2,000 students on campus – and these are predominantly female. But alas, it’s not. In Oxy’s hook-up scene, it seems there are too many students on campus. “It’s such a small campus too, so rumors spread fast,” Chin said. “If you hook up with someone, and then consistently hook up with that person, but you don’t have a relationship . . . you still kind of have an established ‘thing’ with that person.”

So as I approach the middle of my last year at Oxy, I’ve come to realize that all we can do is let love – or whatever sentiment that closely resembles it – take a hold of us and hope that it doesn’t end in a drunken recitation of “Love is a Battlefield.” We must carefully swim through fish-filled waters and wait until we find someone so utterly perfect for us that, despite all the Oxy campus drama, all the nasty shades of gray disappear.

Liz Castillo is a senior ECLS major. She can be reached at lcastillo@oxy.edu.

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