Let’s talk about sex.
While visiting another college campus this time last year, I ran across something I never expect to find at Belmont.
Smiling, professional-looking students had a table set up next to a busy cafeteria, and they were handing out condoms and candy to passing students with a note that said something along the lines of “Happy Valentine’s Day, let’s keep our dropout rate low.”
With Sex and the Soul Week ending today, I think it’s time to take a step back and look at the long and the short of sexual attitudes on our campus today.
While I applaud leadership for making time for Sex and the Soul Week every year, for providing the opportunity for talking about such sensitive subject matter, I can’t help but wonder:
Why do we need a week?
Why do we need a theme?
Why can’t we just talk about it?
In a cultural climate where sex– in some form or fashion– pervades most facets of daily life, from ads for toothpaste to the evolving attitudes and events surrounding feminism and sexual assault, it’s not like we’ve never heard of it.
We’re big kids, and sex isn’t exactly a new concept.
In fact, a 20-year-long study published a year ago by Dr. Sandra L. Caron of the University of Maine reports that 87 percent of college students said they had some kind of sexual intercourse. Many students said they had been involved with more than one sex partner: the average was somewhere between three and four.
And I’d be willing to wager that Belmont’s campus isn’t made up of that 13 percent that isn’t getting it on with somebody every once in a while.
Belmont has dealt with the topic as it relates to homeosexuality. We’ve dealt with it as it relates to crime. And, now, we’ve dealt with it as it relates to marriage.
But we have not dealt with sex as it relates, simply, to the average college student and day-to-day life.
Sexual health, safe practices and sexual relationships are, for the most part, left untalked about on campus. Health services provides no means of birth control to protect students who do choose to have sex. These may be the things we need to talk about the most.
While Belmont’s silence on the topic may be an attempt to maintain its traditionally Christian character– and, in consequence, its promotion of abstinence– it does nothing but clash with the student body and changing culture that holds different opinions.
And without proper and frequent channels for discussing sex, the disconnect between students and university will only grow wider.
But what channels can be opened?
Student health services could hold convocations about sexual health, about how to have sex safely. Counseling services could host more events on making informed decisions on engaging in sexual behavior and maintaining healthy relationships. While the office of security should continue informing students about sexual violence, they should not be the only office to discuss sex on campus.
It isn’t as if we have a lack of resources to hold a direct and long-standing conversation on these things.
While it may not be the university’s responsibility, necessarily, it would be beneficial all-around to have students who are well-informed in their decisions, unafraid to talk on the heart of the matter.