Apparently, the saucy myth of droves of students engaging in an endless orgy of casual of sex in college is in actuality more rare. As it turns out, the only people having casual sex in college are white kids, rich kids, and rich white kids.
"Only 14 percent of students hookup more than 10 times in four years and these students are more likely than others to be white, wealthy, heterosexual, able-bodied, and conventionally attractive, according to quantitative studies of hookup behavior," writes Slate's Lisa Wade, putting the New York Times's recent trend story in a new context by looking at race instead of gender. Wade cites a quantitative study from Indiana University's Laura Hamilton and the University of Michigan's Elizabeth A. Armstrong, who found data that support earlier studies that "found that white students, those who drink, and students with higher parental income are more likely to hook up."
Naturally, the mind begins to wander to institutions like George Washington University, the subject of a jaw-dropping Washington Post story of just how rich its students are. At GW, white reportedly make up 53 percent of the student body. There must be tons of hookups each night in Foggy Bottom!
[Full disclosure: I went to Villanova, a pretty expensive school where white students make up 76 percent of the student body. However, during my years there, I did not really spend that much time studying other students' sexy liaisons, so I cannot definitively tell you if there was plenty of sex going on.]
It seems that rich, good-looking, white men and women who drink are basically the Magna Carta Holy Grail of college sexers, right?
But when you recall that many four-year colleges are playgrounds for the rich and white, the study's results are not all that revolutionary. First, consider that white students accounted for 61 percent of all undergraduates, according to the U.S. Census. And then take into account that 80 percent of college students drink according to the National Institutes of Health report.
And then factor in the financials: A 2006 UCLA study found that the incoming class of 2005 "came from households with a parental median income of $74,000—60 percent higher than the national average of $46,326." And ABC News reported this past May that there's a growing trend of colleges offering more financial aid to rich students in an effort to woo them — at the expense of poorer students, of course.
And Wade points out, "[P]oor and working-class students, who are often the first ones in their families to attend college, tend to take it much more seriously and don’t take for granted that they’ll finish, so they party less." In other words, they go to college in order to actually, you know, study. Stupefying, isn't it?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.