College Life: One Big Sex Carnival

Apparently we should return to single-sex dorms and bathrooms (which colleges have mixed-sex bathrooms?), promote marriage, and have parent-led “inspector committees” to track student sexual behavior. Because it’s not like college students are legal adults or anything. And according to the Washington Times article, “date rape” is such a silly term that we should put it in quotations — unlike, say, STDs and alcohol abuse.

This would all help to tame “the sex carnival that is college life today.”

Why do I feel totally left out of the party?

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31 comments for “College Life: One Big Sex Carnival

  1. August 14, 2005 at 6:03 pm

    Parent-led “inspector committees”? Will that be modeled after the religious police in Iran? Sheesh.

    I think I know how you feel. College life for me wasn’t a “sex carnival”. Grad school, with the Kinsey Institute in my backyard on the other hand….

  2. August 14, 2005 at 6:37 pm

    Party must have left me behind too. Somehow I missed all the wild and crazy orgies during the boring English lectures — maybe I should start sitting in the back.

  3. randomliberal/Robert
    August 14, 2005 at 6:44 pm

    Hmm…someone ought to tell the chancellor of my private, Christian (in name at least) school about these orgies…he might have to lay some of that chancellor smack down on it. Or join in.

    Tangentially related…anyone else get the feeling that whoever approves adverts for Moonie wasn’t thinking when they let in an ad for Talib Kweli. Methinks if anyone at the Moonie Times actually listened to him, they’d have a coronary.

  4. August 14, 2005 at 7:01 pm

    I can never figure out whether the sex lives that college students are described as having are the exact same sex lives that college students had in the Dark Ages, some couple of decades ago, when I was in college, or whether they’re brand new, way more promiscuous sex lives than I remember us having. Because, on the one hand, we sure didn’t spend most of our time binge drinking and having one night stands, but on the other hand, we sure didn’t live in single sex dorms and interact mainly by going out on formal dates.

    I get the feeling parents of college kids, who are, like, my age, are all supposed to have gone to school in a world that went away after the 50s, while kids are supposed to be practically in a continuous orgy. Is this an exaggeration of some real change in sexual mores since the 70s and 80s? Or a whitewash of our 70s and 80s selves?

  5. August 14, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    Don’t you hate that? The foolin’ around on the trapeeze is always going on at some other school.

    Funny thing is, colleges that are named are either not having this “problem,” or are getting over it. Do they think that by not mentioning the names of the schools, students won’t flock to go there?

  6. August 14, 2005 at 7:19 pm

    which colleges have mixed-sex bathrooms?

    when i went to vassar (1988-92) all dorm bathrooms were coed. actually that was true at a lot of small liberal arts colleges at the time. i believe it still is too. my wife teaches at one now (and i live on the campus in faculty housing). i believe all bathrooms are coed here at this (unnamed) small eastern liberal arts school.

  7. August 14, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    UC Santa Cruz had co-ed bathrooms in some residence halls, too. yeah, it’s so sexy for men and women to take shits next to each other. HOT!!!

  8. August 14, 2005 at 7:44 pm

    Second Alleyrat’s UCSC experience. Funny thing is, co-ed living (and, er… “eliminating”) didn’t seem to produce any ill effects while I was there…

  9. Aaron F.
    August 14, 2005 at 8:35 pm

    U. Chicago has coed bathrooms too, in case you wanted to know…

  10. August 14, 2005 at 8:40 pm

    Ok, so I was totally wrong about the co-ed bathrooms. To me, that is weird. Public bathrooms in general are gross, and thank goodness NYU didn’t have dorm-style bathrooms in any of the residence halls — I have kind of a germ phobia, and I probably would have died. But if I had been forced to use the bathroom alongside freshman boys, I really think I would have transferred.

  11. August 14, 2005 at 8:50 pm

    My dorm’s bathrooms were co-ed, as well. Of course, only one person could occupy a bathroom at a time, so the salacious appeal of co-ed bathrooms was distinctly lacking.

    “Parent-led inspector committees”? Somehow, I think my parents had better things to do than run an “inspector committee” for their son who was living on his own 250 miles away from them while they had two younger children to raise.

    And college? A sex carnival? No one describes “modern adult life” as being a “sex carnival,” and it’s not like single college graduates are any less sexually active than college students, on average.

  12. August 14, 2005 at 8:51 pm

    i know that at least some residence halls at amherst have mixed bathrooms

  13. August 14, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    I did my share of fooling around, but don’t look to me as a model, since I am a bona fide pain in the ass rebel. That said, I didn’t do nearly as much as these hysterical article claim is the average. I have two younger sisters who just graduated college and my biggest fear for them was not that they would have multiple sex partners at all. It was that in order to be “good” girls, they would allow the boyfriends they have to control them. That was a much more real and disturbing possibility. One sister has reached a point in her life where that worries me much less but the other hasn’t and I do fret.

  14. Dave
    August 15, 2005 at 1:07 am

    Hampshire College also has coed bathrooms.

  15. August 15, 2005 at 7:07 am

    My alma mater, Webster University (in St. Louis, MO of all places) has co-ed bathrooms and showers.

  16. August 15, 2005 at 9:19 am

    But if I had been forced to use the bathroom alongside freshman boys, I really think I would have transferred.

    the funny thing about coed bathrooms and even showers, is just how ordinary it seems after a short while. like anything else, you just get used to it and it doesn’t seem sexual at all

  17. Dianne
    August 15, 2005 at 9:35 am

    U Chicago had coed dorms and bathrooms and, at least unofficially, coed rooms (not necessarily couples, sometimes just friends sharing a room) when I was there. It didn’t help. We were still the 500th (out of 500) best party school in the country. And proud of it. Hmm…maybe if people relaxed and treated members of the opposite sex like people instead of like potential predators or sex objects we wouldn’t have to worry about sex and protecting people from “temptation” so much.

  18. Thomas
    August 15, 2005 at 10:00 am

    This article is the worst kind of “journalism.” There is zero first-hand or statistical support for the proposition that college life involves more sex, or more sexual partners, than any other community or social position. The only second-hand evidence to that effect is from a conservative religious activist pushing his website. Perhaps realizing that the article has no factual support and is therefore merely an op-ed, the editor apparently made the hapless writer include statistics on alcohol use, and made the rather indirect leap that lots of alcohol use leads to lots of soul-destroying libertine sex.

    Perhaps they include no statistics about sex because the number of parters reported by students is way too low to satisfy the uber-conservative readership of this Moonie rag. Or perhaps the problem is that people who did have active sex lives in college will not talk to a reporter from the Washington Times.

    The moral panic is nothing new, nor is the poor quality of reporting in a paper funded by that cult leader.

  19. August 15, 2005 at 11:34 am

    We had co-ed bathrooms when I was an undergrad, too. They had shower stalls, toilet stalls, sinks, and urinals. I have to say that they probably made your dormies _less_ sexually appealing than more so — after you’ve seen someone flossing or picking their zits in the mirror, a considerable shine goes off your initial impression of hot sexiness.

    Also, the co-ed-ness was nominally optional; all the co-ed dorms had at least two group bathrooms, and so we voted at the start of the year as to whether they should be co-ed or single-sex. They always ended up co-ed (whether due to unspoken peer pressure or genuine preference was never clear). It did mean that there were always enough stalls for your use, even at the busiest times of day — a great thing.

    Oh, and we tended to _talk_ about sex far far more than any of us actually had sex.

  20. August 15, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    The appropriate description of college sex is not “carnival-like” but “sweaty, awkward, and apologetic” for the most part. Unless I really was going to the wrong college….

  21. Thomas
    August 15, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    That’s a grim picture, emjaybee. Awkward, maybe a little. Sweaty, sometimes, but you say that like it’s a bad thing. Apologetic? No. We were learning, but not inept or incompetent. My experience may not be the norm, because I didn’t drink or have sex with intoxicated partners, but there was not a lot of apologizing going on. There was a fair amount of “didn’t do much for me,” but the folks I spent time with generally viewed that as a no-fault situation. Mostly, college is where I got to explore and figure out what I liked, and hone my skill set. I have a very positive view on the whole thing.

    Then again, I came in with some AP credits ;-)

  22. August 15, 2005 at 1:22 pm

    Caltech had coed bathrooms, coed showers, coed rooms, coed naked hot tubbing, no alcohol/drug policy enforcement to speak of… and still is the University of Chicago’s top competition for “worst party school”. If some enterprising journalist were to come along and find the *real* magic ingredient that throws schools into sexual chaos, I’m sure the next generation of Techers would be very grateful.

  23. August 15, 2005 at 1:24 pm

    Apologetic as in “Oops, I elbowed you in the nose/crotch/back again” or apologetic as in “Didn’t mean to slip you that roofie” ???

  24. August 15, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    the “Washington Times” and any reference to it as a “newspaper” having “articles” and “journalists”, should always be put in “scare quotes”.

  25. Sam
    August 15, 2005 at 4:00 pm

    Reed College was (probably still is) co-ed everything (dorms, lavatories, showers) back in the day. I’ll never forget the first time I took a shower in the stall next to a woman. I had just gotten out of the Army and was used to showering with lot of other naked people in an entireley sexless environment. It’s an odd phenomenon that attending to one’s toilette de-sexualizes nudity like that. I remember that she and I were the only ones in the bathroom but it was entirely unselfconscious experience. It may seem like a trivial experience but it had a big roll in making me an adult.

  26. calicajun
    August 15, 2005 at 7:19 pm

    Interestingly enough, as opposed to the co-ed living arrangements at non-party schools U of Chicago and CalTech, the college I went to was consistently and deservedly one of the top party schools, but had single-sex dorms. I think there were even talks of going co-ed, but in this southern school, there were enough women who not only didn’t want to share a bathroom with men, but didn’t want men to see them without makeup on, so were happy to be able to walk around in the morning without the fear that a guy might see them without lipstick and mascara. The women’s dorms had fairly restricted visiting hours, which were enforced. This all mattered less in the men’s dorms, where side and back doors remained open all the time, so no one tended to bother with registering at the front desk.

  27. August 15, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    While I found coed showers pretty asexual well over 90% of the time, there were certain exceptions. One of my more vivid coed shower memories: I head up to the shower, with my towel, etc., and the only other person in the room, already in the shower, just happens to be a guy I’m majorly attracted to, at the time. But it would be too weird to do anything other than just take a shower, so I undress, hop in the shower, and pretend to care more about the shower than the one other naked person in the room. Heaven only knows what went through his mind (since I’m pretty sure he knew how I felt at the time, even if I didn’t say it in so many words).

    That same house did have single sex bathrooms as well, but the single sex bathrooms had a major flaw: no doors on the stalls. Why they had no doors on the stalls, and who used them, I have no idea, but I sure prefer being in a stall with a guy in a stall next to me to no stall door. Plus, the letters had come off the doors of the single sex bathrooms, so the women’s room said “men” and the men’s room said nothing. Everyone in the house was in the know, but visitors might be in for a surprise.

  28. quisp
    August 15, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    I guess i’m old. Please explain. You’re talking about co-ed showers where everyone is just happily fully naked and lathering up in a big room in front of everyone else?

  29. August 15, 2005 at 11:35 pm

    Yeah, it was one big shower with four showerheads, and people of both sexes would hop in and lather up in full view of each other (and more or less in view of anyone else, male or female, who happened into the bathroom to brush teeth or whatever).

  30. quisp
    August 16, 2005 at 12:07 am

    i find this about as hard to believe as I do that anyone allows anyone else they’re dating (or not) to take pictures of them naked and/or fucking and honestly believes those pictures are not going to end up on the internet.

    i’m wondering how this shower policy would go over at the gym or spa or, for that matter, at the holiday inn.

  31. August 16, 2005 at 9:30 am

    Well, it was a student-run coop house, and I lived there in the late 70s to early 80s. I doubt the university administration would ever have set that policy. When I started living there, the coed shower policy was already in full force.

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