Wolfe is known for doing exhaustive research, and for "I Am Charlotte Simmons" he spent many months interviewing students and hanging out on campuses, absorbing the atmosphere. Students that CBN News talked to admit that Wolfe captured a stark truth: that many college kids throw themselves into soulless sex, a series of meaningless sexual encounters, often fueled by almost killer amounts of alcohol.
Wolfe's book has put a spotlight on what many parents might consider an alarming decadence on many modern American campuses.
Sarah Longwell lectures at dozens of campuses a year, often talking to students about sex. She read Wolfe’s “I am Charlotte Simmons,” and said, "If I were a parent and I were reading this, and I had a child either about to go to college or in college, I'd say 'that's it; we're home-schooling you until you're 22.'"
Dr. Joe McIlhaney of Austin's Medical Institute for Sexual Health said, "One of the high-level administrators at one of these universities said, ‘We all know the kids are doing too much sex, too much drugs and too much alcohol. We just hope to get them out of here alive.’"
So what is going on behind these walls in universities around the country?
"Alice" (not her real name) just graduated from college, and said, "Some of my friends like, will wake up in the morning and go, 'like, who is this person next to me?'"
Student Milton Solorzano of Stanford University said, "There's definitely a sense that you can get away with a lot more here than you can at home.”
Amaury Gallais from University of California -Berkeley, remarked, "On Valentine's, they pass out condoms and little worksheets on how to have safe sex. What's really outrageous is they address all the different sexual positions."
Andrea Rasmussen, also of U.C.-Berkeley, said, "They have naked parties, where they sit out on their lawns and have a picnic and they're just naked!"
Longwell said that Wolfe’s book actually captured well "...that students aren't actually seeking out real romantic connections; that it's more a product of alcohol and a lack of values that's leading to this hookup culture on campus."
Lindsey Kane is a Christian singer on the rise in the music business. She is also a recent Texas A & M graduate. She said, "People are having sex a lot with other people without any commitment. Now the guys don't have to work as hard. The girls are gung-ho for it. [Guys] can go to a bar and the chances of them hooking up with a girl are pretty good."
Longwell commented, "You've sort of got a free-for-all; everybody acting on every urge that could possibly enter into their minds."
Alice, for most of her time at college, gave herself over to the worst kind of excesses that Wolfe writes about. She said, "Like, there've been times when I've been so drunk, like, I have no idea of what's going on, and I wake up in the morning, and like, 'What just happened? What happened between us?"
She often slept with guys who were just friends. "We met up at a bar and both were pretty drunk,” Alice recalled. “And [we] ended up, like, having just a sexual relationship on top of our friendship. And that's what a lot of people do.”
She added, “Every time I've slept with someone [for] the first time, it was because I was drinking."
Dr. McIlhaney said, "Most college young people are involved in sexual activity of some type or the other. At least 75 percent have been involved in sexual intercourse."
As with many students, one of the major characteristics of Alice's sexual encounters is that nearly all were induced by liquor, drunk in stunning amounts.
Longwell said, "Drinking is probably the paramount reason that there seems to be a different sexual ethos on campus, as opposed to everywhere else on the planet."
Some students say the atmosphere of "anything goes" is actually encouraged by what some college administrations allow on campus.
Gallais commented, "There is a member of the Berkeley faculty who specializes in pornography. They have movies we can check out, and they have a special collection for her class, with pornographic films."
At the University of California-Davis, student Ryan Clumpner remarked, "During Generation Sex Week, they do outrageous things, like they have a fetish fair, they brought in a leather-man in from Sacramento, they had a sex toys workshop."
The loose atmosphere is also partly the fault of the way some young women are acting and dressing on campus these days.
U.C.-Berkeley’s Rasmussen said, “I think there's a big push from the female side, especially in the social aspect, to make themselves sex objects, because this campus is apparently known for not having 'hot girls.'
Ben Chapman of U.C.-Berkeley added, "You see a lot of the girls coming around and they're wearing next to nothing, and it could be like absolute[ly] frigid in the morning."
Kane wrote a song about a Christian friend of hers who backslid into heavy sexual sin at college. She said, "One night she was over at my house and had been drinking, and was very, very drunk, and she was just crying, because she didn't want it to be like that."
Why would college kids choose to lead such libertine lifestyles? Dr. McIlhaney says many literally do not know any better: No adults ever told them they should, or even can, lead lives of sexual purity. He says this is as true for Christians as non-believers.
Dr. McIlhaney said, "The Christian church isn't taking this seriously. Indeed, the rates of promiscuity among Christian young people are almost as high as those among youthful non-believers. There's only a four-percent difference in the Christian kids' sexual activity and the secular kids' sexual activity."
Alice commented, "Like, the guys, a lot of the guys I've had relationships with are Christians."
Kane said, "If I went to college and I had a whole big group of Christian friends, I would say half of them stayed on the straight and narrow, and then I would say half of them fell into the temptations of college."
Kane sang, "Will there ever be a change in this struggle? This war between darkness and light is waged again..."
She remarked that it's becoming increasingly hard for young people to keep their sexual purity on today's campuses.
Kane added, "Honestly, but only by the grace of God, I'm a virgin. There's something about that lifestyle of 'going out, having fun, let's drink' and then your defenses go down and then you do things that you wouldn't normally do if you were totally conscious."
Now, certainly there are lots of students, like Kane, who decide to avoid sex in their college years. But for the students who do mess around, there is apparently an attitude on campus that they can do whatever crazy acts they want to now, because they can just leave that all behind when they graduate.
But Dr. McIlhaney says there are many lasting consequences, both physically and emotionally, of too much sex, too soon. "There's a significant increase in depression and a significant increase in attempted suicide," he said.
Some 20 percent of sexually-active adolescents now have herpes, 10 percent have Chlamydia, and 50 percent of the sexually-active girls have the human papaloma virus.
Parents may feel most of this is none of their business -- their college-age kids are grownups, old enough to be careful about sex. But McIlhaney pointed us to recent studies of the brain that show that the main area that controls decision-making, the pre-frontal cortex, does not actually mature in most people until they are in their mid-20s.
"When we take young people to college and shake their hands or hug them goodbye at the front door when they're 18 years old and say, 'Well, they're mature now,’ we're making a terrible mistake,” McIlhaney asserted, “because these kids' abilities to make good judgment decisions aren't even complete till they're out of college."
Alice remarked, "I mean, there's a couple of times I was, like, 'What are you doing?' But for the most part, I was just like, 'living in the moment.'"cbn.com