I will never forget my first week at university because it proved to be such a culture shock, because on my first night on campus I found the Swinton residence for female students swarming with more men than women.
It was really unsettling to say the least because one could not go into any passage or corridor without being accosted – the hall of residence was literally overrun by testosterone saturated males of all shapes, sizes and age.
I mean there were men all over and I kept wondering if we had been placed in the correct hall of residence.
It was a season in the University calendar called the “gold rush” when men from within and without the campus descended specifically on the Swinton hall of residence to prey on the first year students.
It was said that even those who were lousy at courtship could get lucky during the gold rush.
Even now, my girlfriends and I still laugh as we reminisce on some of the creepy looking fellows who prowled the corridors carrying pizzas and offering any female in the vicinity a ‘free’ meal.
We remember too, some of the ‘respectable’ big fishes whose luxury cars littered the car park on weekends as they waited for some hapless female student to ‘need a ride to town’.
Sex was very much a part of the university culture, co-habiting was the norm and in a way the UZ was to me for those years a microcosm of society.
Young people raised in a certain way, mirroring behaviours they had grown up seeing in their childhood and maturing into adults who would behave in the exact same way their parents or guardians had behaved and inevitably raising children who would repeat every action.
One incident that stands out to this day transpired the first week we set foot on Mount Pleasant (dubbed “mount pleasure” by students) – a female student beat her boyfriend until he lost consciousness, viciously bashing his head with a two plate stove.
She had discovered that her boyfriend had managed to ‘gold-rush’ a gullible first year student and she was not having any of it accusing the boyfriend, a fellow student, of trying to “bring AIDS” into their relationship.
Like I said it was a total culture shock, we had such a glamorous picture of what university life would be like but when we got there – it was nothing like we had imagined it would be.
Many female students did not make it to the end of their courses; they fell pregnant, got married and never came back.
Others did come back after their first pregnancies but later applied for permission to postpone their studies for another academic year because their husbands would have insisted on having another child immediately and they would be expecting their second child in as many years.
Most husbands only felt safe letting their wives continue with their education for as long as their wives were pregnant at the same time as an insurance policy that they would not be cuckolded.
In my final year I witnessed yet another phenomenon that was deeply ingrained to the university’s culture and was referred to by students and lecturers as the “PhD syndrome”.
The phd syndrome was an abbreviation of a behavioural trait prevalent among final year female students most of whom ended their studies having acquired three things – a pregnancy, a husband and a degree, the ‘perfect PhD’.
Fearing that they would be viewed as too educated to be courted and thus uncertain of their chances of getting a marriage partner outside the university community, most female students saw the phd as a way of killing three birds with one stone.
These unions were accepted by our peers, romanticized by those who had watched the various relationships flourish and flounder over the varsity years and welcomed by families who saw it all as a most convenient state of affairs.
I have never carried out a survey of how these marriages that sprung out of pre-marital sex have fared outside of the cocooned environment of the campus but I know a good number have either parted ways, become estranged or trying to juggle new relationships while dealing with the baggage of children they had in those gold rushing years.
There used to be a crude but popular sentiment among female students who noted that male students rarely married the female students they had casual sex with unless the girl in question ambushed the fellow with a ‘PhD’ entrapment stunt.
The long and short of it is that pre-marital sex should be avoided at all costs because could easily be the shortest route to a hellish marriage.
I hazard to say that it would not be too much of stretch to posit that domestic violence can be traced as easily to extra-marital sex and the unwillingness of married persons to be faithful to their spouses.
Strangely the reason why a person might find it hard to be faithful to their partner could also derive from the fact that they married someone they never intended to marry – so we go right back to pre-marital sex and its consequences.
Because when it comes to marriage, the means will never justify the ends.