Condoms first. Questions later.
Photo by Jacob Reiskin
Last Friday, I was headed to the Post Office when I encountered a Vox club table outside of Case Center, next to Burgess Cafe. They were outside on that beautiful afternoon to hand out condoms, lube and dental dams. And, walking by, students were loudly told about their offerings strewn across the table. It was hard to miss their large and bright signs, the loud calls made sure that my afternoon was interrupted. It was as if everyone, including my professors’ children, wanted to hear about sex on their Friday afternoon.
This is a college campus, which comes with certain assumptions. One of those givens is that most students will party on the weekend, or during the week if we count the beloved “Thirsty Thursday.” With that partying and drinking may come sex. Now, given the near certainty of these assumptions, the school should do everything they can to make sure that students have access to information about making good decision and the tools to protect their health, i.e. condoms, lube and dental dams. They should have access to these services, at the Center for Sex and Gender Relations and the Health center anytime.
Shouting at college students is problematic. The uninvited push into students private life can be uncomfortable for them. It can feel as if they are not being respected. But, what really makes an act disrespectful? Respect is to allow others to maintain their personal space while being considerate of our own.
One way I think of this is the idea of being “sexiled.” All students should be familiar with what happens when your roommate comes back with a potential romantic partner. A good roommate will offer the room for the sake of the couple’s good time. It’s inconvenient, but you aren’t subjected to your roommate’s personal life. In this sense, not all students want to be subjected to sex as they walk along the Case walkway. There are many reasons why students would feel uncomfortable. But, they may just feel as I do, that it is unwarranted and uncomfortable. The mission of Vox is very important but not all students may agree with the club’s approach to providing information about sexual health.
This intrusion may be problematic for the faculty as well. Employees of this school walk the same Case walkway that we students do. They are exposed to the same indecency, whether that is shouts about free condoms or a large picture of a dildo that appeared on a poster a couple years back. What’s more, some bring their children to campus for daycare. As professor, Tillman Nechtman, History department chair, asked me, “Should I have to explain to my son what a dildo is when I take him for chocolate milk in the cafe?” In most other workplaces, he wouldn’t. No employee would be allowed to post such a poster, not only because of the reasonable stance of most employers, but also because of the Human Resources law on sexual harassment, written in the Skidmore Employee Handbook, that protects employees. The college campus is still a workplace.
Let’s honor “creative thought” by allowing a diversity of ways of life. Is shouting and condom distribution on Case walkway necessary for the sexual wellbeing of the student body? We can respect each other and still try to stay safe in the bedroom.