Did you hear the latest news?

by Ein Huie

Whitworth is a small campus. I know it, you know it, your friends know it, and those who don’t know it will find out soon enough. Why? Because word gets around far too easily here. This campus that seeks to bring people from all walks of life, backgrounds, interests and strengths together. It is easy to see the campus as one big body of people that are interconnected through a variety of crossing paths such as classes, majors and faith. In addition, they may cross through the well-developed residence life program in the residence halls, intramurals, UREC trips and the list goes on. With such an interconnectedness, word can spread very fast between one group to another regardless if the person wanted that information to be spread in the first place. In short, gossip controls the interactions between Whitworth students.

How does gossip play in a role in the dating culture at Whitworth?

“Because we are such a small school, so much is known by a larger percentage of the people,” sophomore Becca Hruska states. She sees gossip spreading group to group as an overall detrimental phenomena for relationships on campus because “we tend to seek out the questionable and take the positive [gossip] for granted. We also overthink and overanalyze the negative…” If you are interested in dating someone, but you have only heard negative or questionable details about said person then, in Hruska’s opinion, the person is likely to do one of two things: either believe it and let the love interest pass, or confront it out of curiosity.

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary definition, gossip is not confirmed as being true. Yet many people choose to go along with this gossip and allow the rumors (however true or false they may be) to dictate the identity of the person they have never actually had a conversation with or gotten to know. Our campus is so small that if you really wanted someone in a completely different friend group than your own to know you were interested in them, you could easily do so without lifting a finger and let gossip do its work. Again, gossip controls our conscious and unconscious interactions.

In another interview with Ty Wallin, an off-campus junior, the discussion of small-campus dating arose. In looking at the effects of dating on a small campus, he stated that one of the hardest parts about it is that everyone becomes involved. As gossip and rumors spread from one friend group to another, dating becomes a group activity rather than something that is just between the two of you. “Whitworth dating is riskier because more people are relationally involved,” Wallin said. He believes that the close proximity everyone has on campus increases the level of interconnectedness that people have with each other.

This in turn, makes it easier for people to be emotionally and relationally connected to others’ relationships. Wallin stated that dating is much easier with a blank slate and void of pre-conceived judgements. Overall, he believes that gossip has a negative effect on the dating culture here and you should not date someone because they just show up in your life or due to the presence of gossip that is spread about that person.

The dating culture of Whitworth is a collectivistic culture that often involves more people than just the couple. In all relationships, there should be a close circle of friends on either side that is involved in the relationship to a certain extent. However, it would seem that Whitworth students are in one big relationship where those who are dating feel the pressure to stay together to please others and those who are single can live vicariously through the gossip.

Contact Ein Huie at dhuie19@my.whitworth.edu