‘Fall’ in Love

Fall is the time where it begins to grow cold, and people start cuddling up with their “special someone.” At Calvin College, first-year students, in particular, are quick to find that person: hence the phrase “freshman frenzy.” However, first-year students aren’t the only ones swept up by this infatuation with love. Seniors, juniors and sophomores at Calvin all seem to be swept up by this pressure to date. To make matters worse, the phrases “ring by spring” and “Calvin walks” are whispered left and right, as if an inevitable fate for each student at Calvin.

Generally, there are three reactions to these phrases. First, there is the “I refuse to date to defy these expectations perpetrated by Calvin College.” Secondly, there is the full acceptance of the endless jokes that come with dating here at Calvin, with the response, “No really, this one’s the one.” Finally, there are those who fear these high expectations, wondering if they are abnormal if they choose not to participate in this area of Calvin culture.

Though mostly in jest, these terms put an enormous pressure on the students at Calvin, which has higher percentages of engaged or seriously committed couples than typical college campuses. This article, however, is not intended to dissuade those in a relationship or those seeking one, but rather to defend the rights of the single and/or disinterested.

Psychologically speaking, there is a power to words. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states that if one does not know a word for a concept, it cannot be thought about. This is verified in the paper “Russian Blues” by Jonathon Winawe et al. since Russians, who have a separate word for lighter blues and darker blues, are more likely to see the distinction between the two compared to English speakers. Similarly, a professor at Stanford University, Lera Boroditsky, discussed how objects associated as more feminine or masculine tend to stem from the gender assigned to them by the romance languages.

This begs the question: Does the Calvin student body see and act on freshman frenzy, ring by spring and Calvin walks because it is inevitable, or because it is linguistically impressed upon us? If we, as a community, decided to stop using these terms, would that make dating a more natural and less forced action? Maybe it is time to retire these antiquated terms. By retiring these phrases, guy/girl friendships may become more natural, and the pressure to date may subside. Dating, in itself, is not inherently bad. However, when one treats dating as a necessity and inevitable fact of nature, it can become bad. As a student body, it is up to us to try and slowly remove these phrases. Fall is coming, and many want to start pairing up. Make sure, however, when you date it is because you care about that person and not because of the societal pressure.