Tufts University recently added a new wrinkle to its residence hall room guest policy specifically prohibiting sex when a roommate is present. The Office of Residential Life claims that they received “a significant number” of calls last year from roommates complaining that their roommates were having sex with a blatant disregard for the sanctity of the room. At the very least these furious fornicators are ignoring most rules on public decency.
The policy, while somewhat silly, raises some serious questions. If a university can enact a policy on sex, then where does the university’s power to control its student body and students’ bodies stop? And more importantly, would GW ever attempt any kind of libido legislation?
A university banning sexual practices speaks to how far society has regressed since the heyday of “free love” in the 1960s. Americans have gained so many sexual liberties since that time, and sex has become a much more open aspect of American culture. Legislation like Roe v. Wade and the repeal of anti-sodomy laws have given Americans more legal freedoms in the bedroom than ever before.
But a rule endorsed by a university abridging any type of sexual freedom sets a dangerous precedent. If Tufts or any school has the ability to ban sex with a roommate present, who says it isn’t within their authority to ban interracial sex, or gay sex or any kind of sex they find indecent? While that may not be a threat at more open-minded secular universities, it may embolden the administrations of schools that already try to restrict co-ed copulation.
And does this new policy extend to masturbation with a roommate present? Those are the types of questions no one wants to answer.
It is easy to say that this rule is just an anomaly. Those Puritans up in Massachusetts are clearly still living in the 1700s, when sex was restricted. You may say rules about sex could never come to GW! I mean, there’s a reason Thurston Hall is on F Street. But when it comes to making rules about sexual conduct, universities start on a slippery slope.
Now the reasoning of the rule is sound. Students should not have to endure creaking bunk beds and lurid lovemaking while they are trying to study. But outlawing any sexual behavior is a step over the line, especially since it comes to the most natural of urges. The school could simply emphasize stricter roommate agreements, or foster more roommate communication. At least encourage a courtesy text.
The writer, a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication, is a Hatchet columnist.
Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this column.