By Kate Ayers
At a school that boasts the Sexcapades, the Sex and Sexuality Game Show, the Condom Co-op, our own nationally recognized "sexpert" and a slew of other events and organizations dedicated to sex and sexual health, one might assume that UC Santa Cruz students have lots of sex.
Casual, recreational sex is not specific to any gender, according to Bettina Aptheker, a professor of Feminist Studies at UCSC.
"Every college campus is liberal compared to society at large," Aptheker said. "Students can experiment, being free from judgment and control, usually for the first time."
The new-found freedom students find in college environments not only offers many students the chance to shed former images and ideals, it also allows some to experiment with their sexual morals.
"From my experience, single people hook up a lot," said Melissa*, a second-year student from Stevenson College who asked to remain anonymous. She looked around the Bay Tree Plaza suspiciously. "I feel like a minority because I’ve had the same boyfriend for two years." But when Tim*, a fourth-year Politics major from Cowell College, was asked how many times he has hooked up in the past academic year, he gazed into the shaft of his bong and tentatively answered, "Once?"
Tim shares his house and his viewpoint with friends Adrian* and Joe*. Friday nights usually consist of countless bowls and dizzying rounds of Super Smash Brothers-not hooking up.
"Relationships have held me down in the past so I’m anti-relationship now," Tim said.
Adrian, a third-year Art major from Merrill College, chimed in from his seat next to Tim on the couch.
"Relationships take time and they’re annoying," he said, as both guys laughed.
Though seemingly content with their single status, some would look down on the less-than-enthusiastic attitude regarding the search for companionship.
Charles Whyte, a recent graduate of UCSC, is not satisfied with the state of the date at UCSC.
"The dating scene at our school is lacking," Whyte said. "Over 4,000 freshman come in every year [yet] it’s just really hard to meet people."
In 2006, Whyte launched CruzDate.com, a Slug-specific dating website aimed at simplifying the game for UCSC singles. Despite CruzDate’s growing membership, with 413 members and counting, the campus dating scene is still a challenge for many students to navigate.
Matthew Hall, a first-year Cell/Molecular/Developmental Biology major from Merrill College, chooses relationships over hooking up.
"It would be so uncomfortable to have sex with someone I don’t know or with a friend," Hall said. "And hello, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?"
Hall’s comment brings up the issue of unprotected sex among college students, as well as some of the repercussions that can accompany the lack of contraceptives.
Joe, another roommate and Friday night gaming accomplice of Tim and Adrian’s and a third-year student, grabbed the bong and addressed the issue of unprotected sex.
"I think the majority of times when people don’t use condoms are when they’re drunk," he said, bringing the room to an awkward silence. "Kids are more likely to have sex even if they don’t have a condom if they happen to be wasted at the time."
Student Health Outreach and Promotion’s (SHOP’s) Jane Bogart informed City on a Hill Press (CHP) that 60 percent of college women nationwide who have STDs say there was alcohol involved when they contracted them. And only 50 percent of students reported using a condom every time they had sex.
Lindsay Hemigartner, a Community Assistant at Kresge College, expressed concerns regarding students engaging in sexual activity when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
"Students don’t think enough about their intentions when entering into a sexual situation, so it’s up to the alcohol or the will of the other person involved to make the decisions," she said, shaking her head and sighing. "I just want people to be more aware of what they’re doing, know what they want, and how far they’ll go to get it."
Gillian Greensite, director of UCSC Rape Prevention Education, mirrors Heimgartner’s concern for students who engage in sexual activity that, if not for being intoxicated, they would not feel comfortable with.
"Casual sex is not the problem here," Greensite said. "The problem is when one party sexually exploits another party who is unable to consent or function because of too much alcohol or some other drug.
"I would advise someone who feels badly about a sexual encounter to try and figure out why one participated in the beginning and why one is now regretting it; address those factors," Greensite continued. "Regretting sex after the fact is not rape but it certainly can feel bad."
In an informal "student sex survey" conducted by CHP that polled 100 randomly selected students, 61 percent of students reported having mixed feelings about past hook-ups. Only five percent of students polled limited their sexual activity to "hooking-up," which CHP defined as non-monogamous sexual activity without an accompanying relationship.
Seventy-eight percent chose "relationship-oriented" to describe their current romantic status, which meant they were either in a relationship, just split from one, or were seeking a relationship.
Out of the 100 students polled by CHP, only one possessed a somewhat conservative viewpoint.
David Hume, a third-year Politics/Economics/Psychology triple major from Crown College, forgoes dating and hooking up all together.
"I don’t think you should commit to anyone unless you can see a future with that person," Hume said assertively. "It’s a waste of time to commit if you’re just dating around."
Nationally, statistics indicate that most students actually share much of Hume’s sentiments. Student.com’s ongoing national poll found that 57 percent of students think that one should only have sexual relationships with people one is in love with.
SHOP’s Jane Bogart believes that the ways in which children and teenagers are educated about sex has drastic effects on their attitudes regarding sex once students enter college.
"Students should be able to have accurate information," Bogart said adamantly. "I’d love the opportunity to debunk some of the myths that come out of abstinence training, that sex results in either pregnancy or death from STDs." Bogart hopes to "create a culture on this campus that has a positive, realistic view of sexuality."
Bogart added that students are taking advantage of the free and anonymous HIV testing provided on campus. Over 800 tests are administered on average throughout the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters.
The Condom Co-Op, located in the basement of the UCSC Health Center, also works to eradicate the problems sometimes caused by unprotected sex. It distributes over 8,000 condoms a year. Bogart also said that SlugLove workshops are well attended by people who wish to know more about sexual health and safety.
In light of mistakes of the past, Becky Fox, a first-year Literature major from Merrill College, now makes educated decisions in regards to her sexuality.
"When I do have hook-ups they’re protected," she said in CHP’s student sex survey. "I’ve had no-strings-attached arrangements with friends that were quite successful."
From his favorite seat nearest the video game console, Joe offered his advice to those participating in sexual activities at UCSC. "I would just tell people to be safe and have fun," he said as he packed his fourth bowl of the night. "Oh, and be ready if that shit goes bad."
But Heimgartner, who is responsible for helping her residents adjust to college life, doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to judge students or their sexual practices.
"I basically tell them, ‘No means no. Here are some condoms.’"*Last names have been left out to protect privacyFor more information on SHOP, the Condom Co-Op, Free & Anonymous HIV testing, and SlugLove workshops visit: http://www2.ucsc.edu/healthcenter/shop/health_promotions.htm
For more information on Rape Prevention Education and resources visit: http://www2.ucsc.edu/rape-prevention/Looking for a date? Check out CruzDate.com!