Gender and Sexuality Column

College classrooms could benefit from ‘no hook-up’ pledge

/ The Daily Orange

At Syracuse University, where hookup culture is about as persistent as the Harambe joke, students may not think twice about hooking up with their next door neighbor or the cute kid in their recitation. But maybe they should.

The University of California at Berkeley’s FemSex class has recently started to require that all students taking the course sign a “no hook-up agreement” in an effort to avoid any awkward, morning-after encounters in class. The agreement strictly forbids that students hook up in any way — even disclosing the desire to hook up is considered a violation of the agreement.

Some may feel that this contract is restrictive, but it really does keep the student’s best interest in mind considering we are all at a point in our lives where we are still learning how to manage our love lives.

There will be times when we will walk into a classroom, see an old hook-up buddy and our whole learning experience will be much more uncomfortable than anticipated. So while the hook-up ban probably shouldn’t be implemented in every single class, in this case, anything sex-related should be confined to the textbook.

According to a study by the Independent Women’s Forum and SheThinks.org, 91 percent of college women that say “hook-up culture” defines their campus. So while a no-hook up contract won’t end the phenomenon of awkward run ins, it would start a conversation about making more informed sexual choices about who we hook up with and about how those hook-ups affect us.

Mary Andres, a human sexuality professor at the University of Southern California, said this unconventional contract allows students the opportunity to learn without the distraction of old flames when discussing sexual education.

“When students are provided a nonjudgmental space to learn and express themselves and their sexuality, it gives them more confidence in their worlds,” Andres said.

It’s common knowledge that sex-ed at the K-12 level is about as informative as that scene in Mean Girls: “Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die!” But sex-ed at the college level covers various topics, including gender-based violence and consent, that can only be taught effectively by creating a safe and focused learning environment.

Unfortunately, relationships in college have a tendency to turn sour fairly quickly. We live in an age where we’ve created so many labels, yet have become increasingly hesitant about using them. There is no off-switch for feelings, even when we involve ourselves in a casual hook up. It’s for that reason why we should tread carefully when it comes to sex and romance with our peers.

“A hook up can change the sense of safety and authenticity in a system,” Andres said. “If it goes well, one is preoccupied with what type of impression they are making. If it goes badly, one is closed off in the larger group.”

Despite the negative connotation, hooking up is not all bad. It allows us a chance to get to know ourselves and become comfortable with our sexuality, without adding an extra level of seriousness to these situations that not every college student is ready for. Still, matters of the heart are not for us to decide and in these instances, it becomes easier for individuals to become collateral damage.

While we shouldn’t try to police one another’s sexual decisions, we should try to make sound and safe choices for ourselves, and encourage those around us to do the same. After all, that potential hook up will still be around at the end of the semester, so it’s worth your while to wait a little while longer before you slide into their DMs.
Ivana Pino is a sophomore political science major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at ivpino@syr.edu.

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