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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

LOVE AND MARRIAGE… and college?

Published: October 27, 2006
Section: Opinions

In a world where sexual exploration seems rampant, where college is widely seen as a time to date many people and search for random play or whatever I can get, its certainly not often that marriage even crosses ones mind in a college setting. Yet, while some prefer messing around, hooking up, or being friends with benefits, other students are settling down for good.

There are a number of Brandeis students that disobey modern American social mores, by preparing a marriage before receiving their bachelors degrees. Why on earth would two people vow to tie the knot, and exchange vows, before they graduate college? The Hoot wasnt afraid to ask.

One such Brandeis student, who recently proposed to his now-fiance, is Danny Wolfe 08. For Wolfe, his decision to get engaged came partly from his religious feeling and observance. As he explained, when he first met his fiance over two years ago through a Jewish youth group, he knew he wanted to get married. He and his fiance, Sara Greenberg, a first-year student at Lasell College in Newton, originally thought that they would wait until after Wolfes graduation to get married, but as they increased their observance of Jewish law, life as an unmarried couple became more difficult. According to Wolfe, as their religious observance grew, it became increasingly clear that wed have to get married immediately, he said. As a result, Wolfe and his fiance have decided to move up their wedding date to this winter.

For Wolfe and Greenberg, Judaism plays a prominent role in their lives and factored into their reasons for marrying at what some might consider a young age. Wolfe explains that for him, finding a person with the same life goals and aspirations was of paramount importance. For this reason, Wolfe explains that he dated to find a life-partner, not simply to have fun. Among the goals and aspirations Wolfe shares with his fiance is the desire to build a Jewish home and the hopes of instilling in their children the values of Torah.

While one might assume that students at Brandeis only get engaged for religious reasons, that might not be entirely true. Other factors definitely play a role, like distance. According to Zvi Dubin 08, whose fiance, Adina Herbert, is a senior at Rutgers University, there was no point in waiting, [as] 200 miles isnt so conducive to the relationship.

A similar feeling resonated with Jonathan Zornow 08, who decided that now seemed like just as good a time as any.

As for Kim Serulneck 07, the discussion of marriage had been on the table for a while and when her fianc asked, she didnt want to say no.

The Wedding
The wedding dates for these students are a bit further in the distance than Wolfes winter wedding. Dubins wedding is set for August 2007, while both Zornow and Serulneck have chosen to wait longer. Serulneck is planning her wedding for summer or early fall 2008. She says that her fiance agreed that we would have bachelors degrees and career jobs before we got married. Zornow has not yet come up with any specific time frame for his wedding but he says, We're going to get married some time the year after we graduate. We wanted to give it some time so everyone would be a little bit more comfortable with the idea, especially the parents.

Fighting the Hook-Up Culture
Each one of these engaged students, despite his or her varying reasons for marrying, is flying in the face of the hook-up culture so prevalent in todays culture. While her actions go against the common adage that college is the time to date many people, Serulneck has no issue with the concept. The only thing that sucks, she says, is people assume that if you go into a boys room, you had sex.

Dubin is blas about the hook-up culture. He says, People can do what they want. Im not judging anybody.

Wolfe and Zornow held stronger opinions on the matter. While Wolfe is quick to assert that he makes no judgments about others choices, he feels that the satisfaction from [a life-partner] dwarfs the satisfaction from the party scene.

On a similar, albeit sarcastic, vein, Zornow believes if you don't know what you're looking for, then college is probably a great time to explore all your options and get all the venereal diseases you want.

Every Day Challenges
While Wolfe is certainly grounded in his reasons for marrying, the everyday side of life as an engaged student offers its challenges. Wolfe cites his increased sense of responsibility as stressful. He worries about grad-school and career plans along with more immediate concerns regarding classes, wedding plans and housing after hes married. However, his amazing feeling of security in his decision outweighs the various stresses placed on him.

Dubin, on the other hand, is relaxed. Nothing has changed, he insists. My fiance has a diamond but I dont get any bling. Zornow echoes Dubins sentiments. He cites distance from his fiance as a component of stress, but mentions no inherent [stress in] being engaged.

For Wolfe, the support hes gotten from students and faculty here has been reassuring. When I got engaged, explains Wolfe, it made it easier knowing that it was socially acceptable[at Brandeis,] people have a better grasp on the need to get married at a younger age.

Additionally, Wolfe credits the existence of other engaged students at Brandeis as a source of comfort. At Brandeis, Wolfe says, there is a network, a community, to support each other in this unique period of our lives.

Serulnecks experience is quite different. In fact, she identifies the lack of understanding from some individuals as a key challenge of being an engaged student at Brandeis. Sometimes people dont get that I picked the boy I want to be with for the next 70 or 80 years or however long, she says. Being engaged is completely different from seeing someone.

Dubin asserts that despite the few shocked responses hes received, most people, including professors, have been very excited for him. In regards to possible negative reactions to his upcoming marriage, Dubin recalls the advice from a married friend. If people tell you youre too young, Dubins friend offered, tell them to go f— themselves.