Reading & Literacy Opinion

Controversy over The Times Campus Dating Story

By Richard Whitmire — February 11, 2010 1 min read
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Gawker serves as the vehicle for the complaints from some of the students quoted in the Times story about the dating dilemma on campuses where the female population reaches 60 percent. I blogged on that and linked my reporting on the situation, based on a visit to Virginia’s James Madison University.

This is tricky reporting territory. Recently, I wrote a commentary on the “marriageable mate” issue for The Wall Street Journal and the woman I profiled reported getting some horrible comments posted about her.

As for the Times piece, if anything I thought it was mild. Something really unhealthy is happening on those campuses that goes beyond a cute dating game dilemma. Had the reporter wanted a more realistic idea of what’s going on he could have checked the database in his own newspaper where he would have found this story from 2006 explaining why Dickinson College began favoring male students to re-balance the campus population.

Longtime Dickinson administrators say that at isolated campuses with their own social worlds, gender balance is especially important. ''When there were fewer men, the environment was not as safe for women,'' said Joyce Bylander, associate provost. ''When men were so highly prized that they could get away with things, some of them become sexual predators. It was an unhealthy atmosphere for women.''

Based on the reporter’s response to the complaints, he visited more than enough universities to document the same thing I found at JMU. Personally, I would not have chosen the University of North Carolina, which has had steep gender gaps for many years. Other than that, the piece was a mild depiction of the situation.

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