How much is a quality education worth these days? Judging by the high costs of living, it must be valued at an astronomically high number. Gas is almost $4.00 a gallon, beef is up 70%, retro Nike/Jordan’s are nearly $200. When does it end? Ok, a pair of retro Nike/Jordan’s isn’t a necessity, but you need a pair of shoes… right? Especially if you plan on walking. And if you are a college student, you’ll be doing lots of walking. To and from class, from the library back to the dorms, from the financial aid office to registration,etc. Can you do anything worthwhile with a refund check anymore other than treat yourself to McDonald’s? Is work-study even around anymore? Even if it is, does it provide you with enough money to do anything other than get you a box of Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn, or a few measly packs of Ramen Noodles? Face it, we need a college degree just so we can figure out how to get another degree in order to begin our careers. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Unfortunately, we don’t really have any way of determining what separates desperation from extreme desperation. We think that we do, but often times we really don’t. In all actuality, we really cannot. Because everyone’s circumstance(s) and/or situation(s) are uniquely different, it’s truly difficult to gage one’s level of aptitude and fortitude to overcome academic/life’s obstacles. What constitutes extreme desperation for you may not be the same for someone else. However, there are some areas of hardship that we are all quite familiar with. Either we know them from our own experiences, or we are aware of certain realities from our relationships and dealings with others of a similar situation. For many of us, college is that reality, that situation. College is indeed where the real world begins for most of us. This is where we are first introduced to pressure; where we are first introduced to failure. College is that first job, that first home, that first love, that first marriage, that first divorce. College is where that parental safety/security net is removed while you daringly walk the high wire. College is where successful lives begin and/or end.
With so much at stake, there isn’t any time, available resources, or intelligence report to map out “plan b”. This indeed forces many of us to go all the way in, or don’t go in at all. This is the criteria for which we evaluate our immediate needs, assess our current situation(s), and react accordingly. The plan and mission are simple… success. And, in our efforts to achieve the much desired goal(s) we may resort to unimaginable acts. The average job pays to little, and no job at all pays nothing. What do we do? We could turn to hustling. Hustling is that quick answer, that fast fix, that immediate solution that solves a problem, which in return, rewards handsomely with magnificent benefits and compensations for the risks involved. “Risks? What risks”? Hustling by way of selling drugs can get you 20 years to life in prison, murdered, or both. Hustling by way of pole dancing, lap dancing, or strip teasing can get you stalked, sexually assaulted, murdered, or all three. But, hustling by way of “dating“, that’s different. Many would refer to this as prostitution. However, that’s not how some college students view it. Philadelphia’s Assistant District Attorney Shea Rhodes doesn’t see it the same way either (according to the law that is). Female college students who are overburdened by heavy workloads from their courses, and are in dire financial constraints have taken advantage of a very unique loophole found in the laws that (do not necessarily) constitute prostitution. Actually, they didn’t discover this own their own, rather they were invited to it by way of exclusive online dating services, or should we dare say unique online “arrangement” services. One such unique online service, SeekingArrangement.com, has “helped” the many, many female students who have very little, or no resources, make it through their toughest semesters. SeekingArrangement.com assists the financially disadvantaged female college students (i.e. “sugar babies”) connect with the well established, financially abled male clients/members (i.e. “sugar daddies”). The site is very careful and clever about the language it uses to explain what services are provided, not services or luxuries one should be looking forward to. This is what indeed helps the website escape the law and avoid trouble with those who are against such services. The language may seem to suggest a world of pimps and prostitutes, but prosecution can not solely rely on assumptions or clever word play with semantics. “Sugar Daddies” and “sugar babies” aren’t terms that I would want to hear coming from my mouth, let alone hear coming from someone else. The would-be-willing and mature suitors who seemingly enjoy this name/title pay a monthly membership fee of $50 per month to use this service. However, for the more handsome, mature, distinguished, kind, generous, and charitable suitor, a $2,400 premium package (valid for one full year) is available. This obviously is a man who is accommodating, and is not shy about sharing his wealth, time, and affection with such a delightfully charming young woman who would enjoy his company.
Assistant D.A. Shea Rhodes explains that although this arrangement may seem “creepy”, it is legal under the laws in which it operates. SeekingArrangement.com escapes what we might call an escort service because they do not state (or promise) that sexual acts will be forthcoming from a monetary exchange. All they do is link individuals together based on preferences, status, and social economic level. If the two parties decide to meet (which some young women request a little less than $1,000 for a meeting) and then continue dating after the first initial meet (which can go as high as $20,000 for additional meetings afterwards), then a relationship could likely continue if both parties feel satisfied. The problem with this “arrangement” is that we know exactly how this will end. Relationships that begin simply on the sheer need/want for intimacy, or financial stability, run their course very quickly. The damaging effects can last for years and eventually destroy a person. Women, who are most likely the victims in many of these cases, are not able to have “healthy, normal relationships” due to their dependency for a man who is wealthy enough to accommodate them and their luxurious needs. Moreover, many young women in universities and colleges across the country don’t consider the ramifications due to their immense need/desires for immediate gratification (stemming from lack of companionship, intimacy, and/or financial freedoms). One such university that has a growing number of female students not looking at the obvious dangers involved is Temple University. SeekingArrangement.com has recorded data that has tracked a growing number of college students that are registered users. It lists Temple University as fifth behind Tulane University (4th), University of Phoenix (3rd), University of Georgia (2nd), and New York University (1st).
This problem is not just here in the United States either. Similarly, there are a growing number of medical students in the United Kingdom who are turning towards prostitution (i.e. sex work) as a way to pay their way through school. “Mounting evidence suggests that more university students are engaging in prostitution as a means to pay increasing tuition fees, growing debts, and high living costs”, says Jodi Dixon author of the new editorial published in the journal Student BMJ. The research conducted also concludes that 6 percent of students reportedly knew of a peer that participated in an act of prostitution back in 2006. Today the number is much closer to 10 percent. Although prostitution is legal in the UK, there are laws in place to “curb” soliciting for sex or operating brothels. “These are very unfortunate choices (i.e. stripping, pole dancing, prostitution) that go against the ethical standards that doctors are supposed to uphold” says author and psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman. “Gold-digging is a seemingly more sophisticated pursuit that necessitates a lot of denial, if not delusion. And websites that match ‘sugar daddies’ with ‘sugar babies’ are on the rise as being favorite solutions for students who need or want more money”. Dr. Lieberman also adds that parents are not doing enough to instill healthier attitudes (or proper morals and ethics) about sex. Moreover, media is as much to blame for “glamorizing bad girls and encouraging young women to do the same”.
College is most certainly not what it used to be. While some of this (unfortunately) does not come as a shock to most, it does certainly cause for an advanced warning of what is to come. And the timing of such news arising now with such a hotly contested debate about contraception being issued as part of health care policies that employers, organizations, and schools would have to comply with (in offering group health insurance), only makes matters even worse. The backlash and fallout from Rush Limbaugh’s comments toward Sarah Fluke is proof of that. Add to this the new “Morning After Pill” vending machine already at one known public university here in Pennsylvania (Shippensburg University’s Etter Health Center), and at some point, there will be a catastrophic explosion. This will most certainly not help those that oppose what Limbaugh and others were trying to say. Nor will this put an end to “sex work” by students, because it gives an alternate “safety route” to take when it comes to sex and money. If this continues, at what point does “work” begin to bore you? When do you get tired of the same”9-5″? Do you then try “new forms of employment”? Switch “career paths”? Like your favorite food, if you eat it all the time, you’ll eventually dislike it and never eat it again. Or, you may only eat it for the sake of eating it. In which case, it’ll become unhealthy. This is another form of sex abuse where the victim is also the attacker.
With the growing demands (now) to keep up in a rapidly changing, innovative, advanced technological age/society, we are in desperate need of new solutions to our economic problems. But, how can/do we get to that point? While many may find it laughable, perhaps we should start with ethics. If/When parents talk to their children about life and life’s choices, paint a simplistic picture with broad strokes. Laugh now, but go back to The Cosby Show in the mid and late eighties. Have you ever met anyone that did not want to live in that house? Have you ever met anyone that did not enjoy when the Huxtable family gave Theo a glimpse of “the real world” when his immaturity and irresponsible behavior got him into trouble? Didn’t you want to be him? And at the end, he got the message, possibly punished, and you still wanted to be him. Why? Because, you knew someone cared enough about you to make you their priority, their family’s priority. And, with family comes the family name. I recently heard a former NFL player, now analyst, say “My dad used to tell me… I don’t have a lot of money, can’t give you everything you want, but I’ll give you a good last name”. Even in the “baby momma, baby fah-vuh” culture/society we live in now, isn’t this (somewhat) possible? Morals and ethics can still have value if we make them the norm, more relevant in our lives, and practiced. And what about religion? When we stopped practicing, that’s when some of us experienced the collapse of morals and ethics. Many of us hate these things because they are rules. Rules, directions, guidance, and a code of ethics we don’t want. So, we sell them only to buy them again at triple the costs once we have the employer and employment we were seeking? This is madness. We must do a better job of educating ourselves, and analyze the many, many vices that are in place that corrupt society. With awareness comes understanding, a willingness for change, and a plan of action that is to be implemented. Many of us fail when it comes to using our wealth and resources properly in order to make strides in a constantly changing world because we were not taught properly how to do so. Parents must investigate then invest heavily (their time and knowledge) into their children early. Middle school years are indeed essential years to develop and shape attitudes about what constitutes our basic needs, desires, and necessary luxuries. These things must be understood and given their proper place in order of relevance. A very solid finiancial education is extremely important as we are still recovering from the housing bubble crisis and massive unemployment. Moreover, many of us try to protect our children by shielding them from this reality as a means to protect our own misgivings and mistakes when it comes to our wealth, investmenting, access to capital, credit history, savings, retirement, available liquid assets, and knowledge about economics. We must teach our children how to develop schedules and timelines in order to achieve short and long term goals, so that they are able to address what should be a priority and what must be sacrificed. Lastly, a sacrifice (now) does not necessarily mean that you will never have what you desire. It simply means that you are giving up something that is more desirable to/for you (right now), for something else that has much more overall importance and long term benefits for your future. Desires for possessions will come and go. And, it is after we have achieved the success that we were striving for that we are in better position to go after those things we once desired (if we can remember) or better than that. All the while, never losing our highest level of knowledge and understanding about what has true meaning, benefit, and value in our lives.
If wealth is the navigational system that guides us to our destination, we should remeber that we are the ones who program the coordinates. And, don’t forget that sometimes even the best navigational system can misguide/misdirect because it is flawed. It is only a tool that aids in surviving.
Information for this article was taken from The Philadelphia Daily News writer Vinny Vella, “Who’s Your Daddy” (February 10, 2012), abcnews.com writer Mikaela Conley, “Sex Work Among Medical Students On The Rise?” (February 29, 2012), and FOX News “Vending Machine at Pennsylavania College Dispenses Morning-After-Pill” (February 7, 2012)