The Relationship Report


University of Tennessee Knoxville: 228 years, single and ready to reveal how students feel about our dating scene. 

Would you swipe right or a swipe left on a guy who had tattoos on his face? No matter how you answer that question, someone else on campus has a similar feeling. 

When talking about dating on our campus, it is hard to truly encapsulate what it looks like. With a high student population, a great deal of students living off campus and so many different organizations and academic programs available to you, it is highly unlikely that anyone on campus will ever meet everyone that attends UT. 

It is very easy for people to simply find their community and interact in that way, whether that be through a sorority, volunteering or random student organizations. It is for that reason that dating on this campus will look different for everyone. However, there are some generalities that many that attend here can agree on. 

In a survey about dating at UT with 87 respondents, 85% of respondents agreed that hookup culture is prevalent on campus. Respondents also said that dating/committed relationships are less prevalent on campus than hookups. 

While there is a  heavy preference for hookup culture, more students prefer to be in a long-term relationship with 77% of respondents preferring dating over hookups/one night stands. 

However, it all goes to the fact that your campus community determines your experience. 

Alex Stone, a sophomore with a wildlife and fisheries sciences major, shared that age is a major factor in dating culture at UT. 

“Underclassmen seem to have many more hookups than upperclassmen do, with most upperclassmen I know tend to prefer or already be in long-term relationships,” Stone said.

Sharon Onyekwere, a sophomore with a psychology and neuroscience double major, shared a similar sentiment as Stone.

“First and second years usually have more hookups because this is their first time away from their hometown and family. They have so much freedom so they do it all. Rather than your 3rd or 4th year most people are ready to settle down and get that ‘ring by spring,’” Onyekwere said. 

Siena Damkier, a freshman Journalism & Electronic Media major, explained how technology plays heavily into hookup culture at UT. 

“Dating apps, such as Tinder, play (personally) the biggest role into UTK’s hookup culture. As someone that participates in hookup culture, I can confidently say I have not hooked up with anyone by way of a dating app, but going out to the strip definitely plays a large role in, I would say, everyone’s version of hookup culture,” Damkier said. 

UT’s student population is 76.6% white. Being a minority student on campus has the potential to affect your experiences dating as well, no matter the community you find on campus. 

“I am a minority because I am African. I think it has impacted my dating life because there are not that many black people on campus and most other races are not willing to be dating outside their race,” Onyekwere said.

Breanna Ceesay, a junior Neuroscience major, shared details about her experience as a minority student on campus. 

“I associate with the African-American/Black community on campus. Being associated with this minority group has not impacted my experience with dating/hookup culture. My status as a minority has not deterred nor increased any options that could have. I prefer not to engage with students on this campus,” Ceesay said. 

LGBTQ+ students also deal with unique challenges of dating in college at an SEC university. 

“Within the LGBT+ community, I know that apps are pretty critical in hookups, as there is a lack of LGBT bars or other scenes where folks can hang out and proposition people safely. I am a transgender man, which has absolutely affected my dating life. I am currently in a long-term relationship, and when I was looking around and when my relationship first started I was always concerned about whether or not I would be accepted for who I am. Another thing I was worried about was people just going after me to fulfill a fetish,” Stone said. 

Safety is a concern of many members of the LGBTQ+ community in terms of dating. 

“I am bisexual. I have only been with the same gender once while at UTK because of the homophobia that roams campus. I do live in fear of being a victim of a hate crime because of my sexual orientation, therefore I have masked that side of myself to avoid any altercation,” Damkier said. 

Luckily, UT’s Pride Center and Student Organizations provide a safe space for many LGBTQ+ students to find their community and get resources that might otherwise not be available on campus. 

Dating in college can be difficult. Seeing people holding hands on campus or going out together may leave you feeling down. However, it’s important to remember to put yourself and your safety first. The right person will come eventually, and they will swipe right on you everytime.