Skip to main content

Not all college guys just want to hook up

By Daniel Yellin, Special to CNN
August 4, 2013 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Daniel Yellin says many young men in college take sexual consent seriously and respect women's right to their own decisions.
Daniel Yellin says many young men in college take sexual consent seriously and respect women's right to their own decisions.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Daniel Yellin. An article depicted UPenn culture of female students casually "hooking up"
  • He says article portrayed male students as taking advantage of drunk women, bragging about it
  • He says characterization is unfair; college takes consent seriously
  • Yellin: Many young men wouldn't dream of mistreating women; they respect women's decisions

(CNN) -- Last month, the New York Times published an article in its Sunday Styles section with the headline "Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too." It focused on what it called the casual hookup culture at my school, the University of Pennsylvania, where I am a junior. It found that many students see relationships from a purely economic standpoint, subjecting partners to a cost-benefit analysis that ultimately puts sex above romance.

The piece sparked a furious response from students and alumni over its depiction of Penn women, including articles in Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post and the Daily Pennsylvanian, our student paper.

Daniel Yellin
Daniel Yellin

They criticized the article's sweeping generalizations about young women's sexuality and its blasé conclusions about the men on campus. A section inaptly titled "The Default Is Yes" claims that, when alcohol is involved, guys cross the line. The author, Kate Taylor, describes an environment in which men take advantage of young, drunk women and then brag about it to their friends, suggesting that this behavior is the norm in an alcohol-driven "frat" culture.

But not one male student was quoted in the article.

I understand that men were not the focus of the piece, but when an article header is titled "The Default Is Yes," the men of Penn must stand up for themselves.

Opinion: Young adults and a hookup culture

Frat raises $12,000 for sex change
Free condoms policy stirs controversy
Study: Most teens aren't sexting

Here's the reality: Not only does Penn have more than 30 fraternities representing a multitude of interests, but the members of these groups span the full range of ethnic, racial and sexual spectrums. Furthermore, as a collective student body, we take consent very seriously.

Groups like One in Four, an all-male peer-education group that, according to its Facebook page, "focuses on sexual assault awareness and rape prevention," includes students from both Greek and non-Greek organizations. This past year, Penn hosted a Sex Week to initiate a dialogue on campus about sexuality. Take Back the Night, an international movement and rally opposing violence against women and sexual assault, was the centerpiece of the event.

The incidents presented in the article -- a guy "scoring" while his partner is unconscious and a young woman forced into oral sex -- are undeniably awful. If 10 to 16 forcible sex offenses were reported annually between 2009 and 2011, then we know there must have been many others that went unreported.

These numbers were enough to spur the formation of a faculty-led commission to address alcohol and drug related sexual violence, but it is an issue that goes beyond policy changes. The students at Penn, not just this commission, are well aware that there is a problem, but it is a problem that we are committed to solving.

There are men who speak out against violence; there are men who want monogamous relationships; there are men in fraternities who walk girls back to their dorms and make sure that they are OK, never even thinking of taking advantage of the situation.

The default answer is not yes, because there is a host of college students who admire the women with whom they go to school and refuse to blame sexual violence on alcohol. These women are future world leaders and innovators who might not feel like they have time for a relationship at this stage of their lives, and we respect them even more for making that decision.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel Yellin.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT