REALationshipsBy WHITLEY ARENS
Though Georgetown College’s student body is quite diverse, there is one thing all have in common: the fact that on a day-to-day basis, all students here are involved in some sort of relationship. These relationships can be romantic or not, very serious or very casual, but essentially they are unavoidable and do have an impact on the lives of students. The following is a series of profiles featuring people in all sorts of relationships that discuss the ways in which their relationships factor into their lives as students.
For family-man Greg Haynes, school is certainly not his first priority. As he said, “My relationship with my wife is the most important thing to me in the world. School comes in third behind my children.” The importance of Greg’s family is something that also factors into the way he sees himself on Georgetown’s campus. While Haynes, a commuter, does have friends here, at the end of the day he goes home to the relationships that are truly a priority for him. He also finds it a bit of a struggle to juggle school, his wife and children. He said, “Being married and also having children, I find it difficult to take a full class load with my other responsibilities, so I have to limit my class schedule.” But, overall, Greg’s relationships are an inspiration to him: “I think my relationship status gives me added incentive to do well as a student. As a father, I want to be a good example for my children.”
For senior Amanda Owens, who is engaged to her high-school sweetheart—Geoff Dempsey, school and relationships are of equal importance. Owens has been very conscious of developing a life and identity outside of her relationship, and her fiancé (who attended UK) has been a major source of support in that process. On their relationship, she said, “Geoff and I have always been able to find a way to adapt our relationship to accommodate our other goals. I never view [our relationship] as a hindrance; I just view Geoff as another person who is willing to support me.” Some of the goals Owens has been able to achieve with Dempsey’s support are taking a full class load (about 18 hours) every semester, studying at Oxford and being Editor-in-Chief of The Georgetonian. Though she does spend a considerable amount of time visiting her boy on the weekends, meaning she probably misses out on a little socializing at GC, Owens wouldn’t have it any other way: “I feel like I have been blessed to have, in a relationship, what some people only dream about.”
Emily McClure is one of the younger fiancées on campus. However she doesn’t feel that her age really alters the situation that much. She said, “I don’t think my age makes it harder. I would still have a wedding to plan no matter what year I was.” Wedding plans, understandably, consume quite a bit of her time. McClure, who will be married this December, explained that managing everything isn’t too hard right now, saying, “Since we have plenty of time we are doing most of the planning on the weekends. Any of the major planning details are going to wait until I am on my breaks.” Also, McClure doesn’t feel her status really affects her much as a student: “I still consider myself a regular college student. I’m just engaged and planning a wedding at the same time.” For that matter, school and love are of equal importance to her; she elaborated, “I think there should be an equal balance between school and relationships. I find time to get my school work done, and Michael and I make time for each other as well.”
As two married seniors, Mary Audrey and Michael Gilkison are definitely among the minority at Georgetown College. However, being part of the married minority doesn’t really change the way the couple fits on campus: “While there are not many other married students around campus, it doesn’t really affect us socially. Our friends still hang out with us even though we’re weird like that.” Married since last August, the two met the first week of their freshmen year and
have been dating since spring of their sophomore year. According to Mary Audrey, being married has benefited them both academically, though she ranks their relationship as her top priority. Although, she noted that academics are very important to both of them. Actually, academics are sort of what got them together in the first place. Mary Audrey explained, “I really liked him for about seven months and he was clueless. I offered to study biology with him, even though I really wasn’t personally planning on studying, and ended up studying for a test (that I had already taken) for four hours. The rest is history!”
Denielle Shelley’s 9-month relationship with boyfriend Adam is something that’s very important to her; still, she doesn’t let the relationship have too much power over her life. Right now, Shelley’s top priority is education. “At this particular time in my life school comes FIrst . . . and my boyfriend knows that,” she explained, “I don’t let the fact that I have a boyfriend even come to mind when deciding what classes to take and activities to be involved in.” Shelley’s sense of independence is furthered by the fact that she doesn’t let her relationship define her as a student. Though she does admit that having a boyfriend has changed what she’s looking for: “I’m not looking for a boyfriend; . . . therefore, I can spend more time focusing on school and friends. I don’t have to devote time searching for Mr. Right.” Also, Shelley’s boyfriend doesn’t attend school here, which she finds makes it easier to balance school, friends and him. She said, “That gives me freedom while I’m on campus to focus on my friends and my life here. Throughout the week, I spend time with my friends, my sorority sisters, practicing with the dance team and studying. I don’t have to worry about balancing seeing him with all of those things.”
Danielle Harrison and Matthew Hubbard, both from Paducah, are “seriously dating” or “pre-engaged” as Harrison said. Both Hubbard and Harrison, who met here, said that had they met in high school, they most likely would not have ended up dating. So, in this way, Georgetown College was very crucial to helping bud this romance. As Harrison put it, “Our relationship is radically different from any other in either of our pasts, and I think that is because we were much more adult about the way we began, and continue in, our relationship.” Both Hubbard and Harrison agree that school should come first right now, and both also admit that having the other’s support has greatly helped when it comes to getting school work and goals accomplished. Also, both try not to let their relationship define them as people too much. As Hubbard said, “I try my best to not let it define me as a person if that makes sense. As a student though, and this goes for all students in a relationship, sometimes I feel like we are separated from students who are single.” Harrison continued this thought in saying, “I think sometimes the single people exclude people that are dating because they always assume you’re with your significant other, which is not true. BUT since we’re both Greek and have other things we’re involved in, we definitely have our own social circles and have a lot of time to spend with ‘just the guys’ or ‘just the girls’ . . . which I think is important in order [for us] to keep a sense of ‘me’ and not just ‘us.’”
Though Alix Davidson is single, relationships are still the most important thing in her life. When asked about priorities, Davidson said, “I think relationships are always more important, because they are about people and focusing on others. With that said, it is very rare that a healthy relationship would keep someone from not doing well in school.” That being said, school is very important to Davidson and she doesn’t let relationships—friendly or romantic—dictate how she performs in school or the activities in which she chooses to be involved. Still, Davidson feels that the relationships in her life do define her as a person, if not as a student. She explained, “I think that what defines people most is who they spend their time with, whether that is God, friends, family or a boy-girlfriend. For me, being single, I have more time to focus on building relationships with the first three.” She also added that friendships trump romantic relationships overall for her right now: “At this point in my life, friendships are far more important.”
One thing about Leah Babik that makes her unique is that, not only is she single, but she has never had a boyfriend. For the most part, Babik really enjoys being single. She explained, “Although there are some days I wish I could have a boyfriend, I know that I am all too busy to be able to commit to a relationship and I feel like I can serve God better being single at this point in my life.” In addition to her relationship with God, Babik is very committed to the relationship she has with herself. “If I say ‘I just wish I was in a relationship,’ and then get one, it will not fulfill me and therefore I will always be wanting the next best thing,” she said, “On the contrary, if I become able to accept myself as the creature God made me, then, when I do have a relationship I will not look to the guy to ‘complete me,’ but more as a complement.” Also, Babik is very involved on campus and believes this would not be possible if she had a relationship she had to devote herself to, so, with her single-ness, she “will remain content.”
Peggy Coots, who is actually studying abroad in Italy this semester, is engaged to her boyfriend of nearly six years, Keith. Though the couple plans to wed this summer, the two don’t have a date set yet as they’re waiting for Coots to return from studying abroad. This shows that to Coots, school is very important and also that her fiancé supports this. “Keith (who does not attennd GC) is very supportive of my being involved on campus,” said Coots, “He just wants me to be happy.” When asked about whether school or relationships should take top priority, Coots responded, “I think it’s different for everyone. You get what you put in, that’s my motto. So, if you put more into your school work, then you’ll get more out of that and vice versa. For me, both are important. I am blessed to be with someone who supports me in everything I do, whether it’s classes, studying abroad or being in a sorority. But when it comes down to it, family comes first.” And Coots does consider her intended family: “This relationship is very important to me. I consider him my family.”
Single man Andy Smith described his feelings toward his relationship status as follows: “I am okay with being single, however, I am looking for love. [You] never know when Miss Right will be near.” Still, even as he hopefully looks for love, Smith knows the unpleasant effect relationships can have on school life when they end. He described a past relationship as follows: “Some of her [sorority] sisters never talked to me until I started dating her, then after we mutually broke it off, they won’t usually even say hi. Kinda sucks, but that is the world we live in. A world defined by social organizations and cliques.” Even so, relationships—both friendly and romantic—are important to Smith. In fact, he ranks them as being of equal importance: “Romantic relationships, in my opinion, must start out as friendships. In the end, a long-term partner is going to be your best friend.” In relation to school, Smith strives for his studies to come first, but admits that there has to be a balance. He makes an interesting point in terms of working to balance school and people in saying, “Relationships and school have helped me to better my time management.” So, Smith can see the bright side as well.
Though each of these profiles differed in various ways, one conclusion can be drawn in all instances: despite relationship status, relationships were deemed very important and usually as important if not more important than school. Why is this the case? As Dr. Karyn McKenzie explained, everyone NEEDS relationships: “It’s referred to as the ‘Need to Belong’—we all need frequent, pleasant interactions with intimate partners in lasting, caring relationships if we’re to function normally. It’s like any other need, any other innate, biological, genetic drive. You MUST have these, it’s far more than just thinking relationships make life more fun, more interesting, more enjoyable, but rather, they are required.”
Poll gathers relationship dataBy WHITLEY ARENS
In addition to the REALationship profiles featured on the previous two pages, a poll was conducted this past week to gather some interesting data regarding student opinions towards relationships. The poll addressed issues such as how breakups affect school performance, whether or not relationships have played into major academic decisions and whether or not sex-only relationships are believed to be simpler than “normal” relationships. To the left and below are graphs showing the results of various questions from the poll.
In browsing these graphs, one might notice a few interesting things. One is that, though about 62 percent of people say that their school performance has never been negatively affected by a break-up, 88 percent of people polled do say that they have witnessed one or more friends go through a break-upthat has negatively affected their performance. Perhaps this is true and those polled have friends who have been more negatively affected by break-ups than they. However, it’s also possible that some self-serving bias is at work. Another thing one might notice is that 77 percent of polled students have been in or know someone who has been in a sex-based relationship. Also, 92 percent polled think these type of relationships are no simpler than relationships based on more than sex.
In addition to the questions shown, pollers were asked two open-ended questions. The first of these was: “Are there any details you’d like to provide about breakups affecting school performance?” A few responses to this question are as follows: -“Sometimes breakups can get in the way of school performance. But when you have great friends, they can help you through it and get you back on track!” -“People become so involved with their significant other that when they lose that person everything suffers, including school.”
The second open-ended question was: “As far as balancing relationships with school, where do you think priorities should lie?” A few responses to this question are: -“If your significant other really cares about you, they should allow you to place the amount of focus necessary on your school work, and your relationship shouldn’t suffer.” -“Priorities should be with schoolwork; however, this isn’t usually the case at all.” -“A relationship takes time and effort, and when you don’t have much time because all of your other time is spent on school, you have to work hard to make the time that you do have count.” Overall, the poll proved to be quite revealing.
Agree or disagree with the poll results? Have any opinions on the REALationship profiles? Want to share your story? Write in to the Opinion editor (warens0) and share your comments.