Let’s Get Serious

by Carol Iannone

If colleges are concerned about sexual misconduct, they should take a more sober attitude toward sex in general, which is, after all, one of the most serious and deeply involving of human activities, despite all efforts to make it a walk in the park. At Bowdoin College, for example, as reported in What Does Bowdoin Teach: How a Contemporary Liberal Arts College Shapes Students, a student play presented during orientation concluded with this  exhortation: 

Whatever you decide you want your relationship with sex to be about there are opportunities out there. Whether you want to have sex or you don’t, you’re looking for love or a one-night stand, you’re gay or straight or somewhere in between, it’s all possible. And whatever happens remember to be safe, get consent, and watch out for your friends.

The authors of the Bowdoin study, Peter Wood and Michael Toscano, observe that  “it is fairly new for colleges to aggressively market sexual promiscuity to their students” in this manner.  Indeed it is, and the breezy tone of this concluding exhortation has an unseemly air, more appropriate for recommending, say, the desserts available in the eating facilities. In fact with a little rewording, it might even serve that purpose:

Whatever you decide you want in your dessert experience there are opportunities out there in our cafeteria and dining halls. Whether you want to have dessert or you don’t, you’re looking for lovingly baked treats or just a simple bowl of Jell-O, you like ricotta cream or plain whipped cream, or a little of both, it’s all possible. And whatever happens remember not to overindulge, count your calories, and share with friends.  

And by the way, “Bowdoin makes sure that a generous supply of condoms is conspicuously available on every floor” of every co-ed dorm. How’s that for an invitation to view sex as mere rutting?