Approximately 8 percent of undergraduates have cheated on a significant other, and about 13 percent have been cheated on by a significant other, according to a poll conducted by The Herald last month.
Keiner Oliveira ’19, who has been cheated on, said he believes students who cheat on their significant others “disregard the feelings of others in exchange for self-gain or pleasure.”
“Cheating has the power to affect more than just the two people involved — it changes the environment for everyone around them,” Oliveira said. Social media platforms such as Facebook “foster a sense of emotional apathy,” which “makes relationships less personal,” he added.
The poll results revealed a correlation between class year and the likelihood of ever cheating or being cheated on. Approximately 6.2 percent of first-years, 7.7 percent of sophomores, 9.6 percent of juniors and 10.8 percent of seniors indicated they had cheated on a significant other. About 9.8 percent of first-years, 11.6 percent of sophomores, 14 percent of juniors and 17.2 percent of seniors reported they had been cheated on by a significant other.
Benjamin Wesner ’18 said he thinks the data may have been influenced by the wording of the question, which asked, “Which of the following describes your relationship history to the best of your knowledge?”
As students become older, they usually have “had more relationships by that time, so (they’ve) had more opportunities to cheat,” said Wesner, who is a Herald collections manager. If poll respondents had been asked whether they had cheated or been cheated on within the past few years, the percentages may have been reversed, he said.
Hannah Blakely ’19 echoed this sentiment. “Over time, naturally more people will cheat because it’s cumulative,” she said.
The data also indicated a correlation between cheating and belonging to a varsity sports team. Approximately 17.8 percent of varsity athletes reported they had cheated, compared to 8.2 percent of students overall.
Jill Glasser ’19, a varsity diver, said athletes “have very little time to develop a committed relationship” given the large amount of time they must devote to their sports. “It is easier and socially acceptable to opt for just a hook-up,” she said.
Despite the incidence of cheating among students, many voiced positive perceptions of campus culture regarding relationships.
Wesner said the dating culture at Brown feels laidback. “People do whatever they want. There’s an emphasis on being true to yourself,” he said.
“The Brown community is a very accepting place for relationships and friendships,” Glasser said. “The student body is very open-minded.”
Sabrina Saeed ’19 said she has noticed that first-semester students in serious relationships usually met their significant other before college.
“Brown doesn’t foster an environment that encourages cheating,” said Ushani Jayasinghe ’19. But it “doesn’t emphasize relationships” either, she said, adding that a great deal of conversations about relationships center instead around consent and mutual respect.