From Starbucks to the student union, the library to the museum, college students are constantly surrounded with the burgeoning inclination towards cross-cultural dating.
Things are not as they were even 10 years ago, and with Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, it gives some the opportunity to take a look at the benefits and difficulties of relationships between those of different backgrounds, be they religion, race or ethnicity.
With the ever-increasing number of international and first-generation students at the University, ethnicity carries weighted influence.
“It’s difficult to be a first-generation African (Nigerian) or actually, the child of any immigrant,” LSA sophomore Ugochi Emenaha said.
“My parents really want to see me with a Nigerian – it goes as far as them specifically wanting somebody from our ethnic group, even if he is Nigerian,” Emenaha added. Emenaha emphasized the partisan influence of family in matters of the heart.
College is, for many, a time when most people seriously consider the issue of dating and its implications for the future.
“My family would be insulted by me simply dating someone outside of my ethnicity. If I were to go as far as marrying someone outside of that box, that union that would not be respected by nether my immediate or extended family,” Emenaha said.
“There are a lot of things that go into the decision of dating somebody and then possibly marrying them,” Indian LSA freshman Shefali Saxena, said.
“Especially in Asian cultures – Indian, East Asian and Middle Eastern – to marry a person does not mean marrying that one person, but it means marriage into an entire family,” Saxena added.
“Anybody I’m dating, I wonder where it’s going,” black LSA freshman Jason Coupet, whose girlfriend is Vietnamese, said.
“I don’t go into a relationship thinking that ‘this is just for fun and there’s no way I’d really marry her.’ That’s a waste of my time,” Coupet declared emphatically.
“For Muslims, dating is frowned upon – the Islamic view held is that Muslims should not date,” said LSA sophomore Lisa Ghamraoui. “When Muslims are ready to marry, they are expected to marry another Muslim,” Ghamraoui added. “To marry otherwise would cause major problems.”
With an extended emphasis on one group vs. another, often, the perspectives of biracial/mixed race students are overlooked.
“Who I date … it’s not even an issue because my parents have experienced all the pitfalls of a cross-culture relationship,” said Engineering freshman Anna Gonzales, who is Filipino, Spanish and Italian.
“That kind of relationship has made my parents stronger. They wouldn’t have gone through with it if they didn’t believe in it. It’s something they always have been supportive of,” Gonzales said.
Cultural barriers are often deconstructed in the melting pot that is the American college scene – an almost inevitable occurrence.
“As far as progressive thought goes, it’s a lot easier for our generation. We don’t have to face much of what our parents had to deal with,” Coupet said.
“Our parents, the baby boomers, et cetera, regardless of the liberal movement that they would like to think they are a part of, dating outside of one’s boundaries was frowned upon in their time and it’s hard for them to stray from that,” Coupet added.
“I have dated outside of my race, and marriage outside of that realm is a definite possibility. A lot of people believe that the culture line is too thick to even try to cross, but it has been done before and it will be done again … I don’t foresee it as a major problem,” Emenaha said.
“To limit myself because of my parents … that would be foolish. I might miss out on something,” she added.
Though there is bound to be some resistance to these relationships, even within the confines of the liberal university sphere, these oppositions are generally brushed off.
“You don’t know me or my situation. She relates to me and I relate to her. It has nothing to do with race or culture. It has everything to do with us,” Coupet said.
“Anyway, the people I hang around are open-minded. Same thing with my parents – though it took them a little time to adjust, they leave the decision up to me,” Coupet said.
“You realize not only the differences, but the similarities as well – as clich