SHOC encourages sex, alcohol divide
In the first six weeks at the College, 14 percent of first-year students reported that they were sexually taken advantage of while drinking, compared with the national average of 15 percent. Another eight percent of College students reported that they took advantage of someone sexually while drinking, versus 11 percent nationally. These were figures the Class of 2014 reported on their Alcohol Education evaluations. These facts outline the stark reality of the current on-campus hook-up culture.
After a hard week of academic, athletic and extracurricular commitments, students on the Hill have a two-day period to unwind. Many find that an effective way to indulge in a good time is by drinking with friends and finding someone to hook up with. Hilarious—and often obligatory—stories are told in Dana on Sunday morning before a return to the books and e-mails that characterize the work week. On the surface, many view the College weekend ritual as a fun, harmless and effective way to relieve stress.
Alcohol, when enjoyed reasonably and responsibly, can be a relaxing social lubricant. The whole process of recreational drinking is a bonding experience, and the effects of alcohol facilitate a decreased inhibition that can provide for a fun and (hopefully) memorable time. On the other hand, there is a truth about alcohol use that cannot be ignored: we become different people when we are drunk. This means we don’t do or say the same things when we’re drunk that we do when we’re sober. Compromised judgment combines with opportunities for physical intimacy, an activity that produces a strong emotional response. This combination can cause devastating consequences. Regretted sex, specifically sex one would not have consented to sober, occupies the minds and jeopardizes the mental health of countless students on the campus.
According to the 2011-12 Colby College Sexual Misconduct pamphlet, “Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, compromise clear communication and [reduce] your ability to give or receive consent.” Technically, every weekend, a lot of students on the Hill are partaking in sexual relations without consent. A clear majority of these encounters are assumed to be harmless, but many are not. “Beer goggles” is a friendly name given to an idea that has done a great deal of harm to many people. We need to take off the goggles and do what we really want with our bodies.
There seems to be a prevalent idea among the Colby students that alcohol serves as a facilitator of physical intimacy and sexual activity. A challenge for everyone is to contradict this assumption. Hook up sober. Don’t wait until the weekend to find out who you will end up with in bed. Find the person who you want to hook up with and begin the process of communicating your feelings ahead of time. Let’s move to get over the awkwardness of communicating outside of the party scene and start interacting in broad daylight.
A healthier and more enjoyable hook-up culture will emerge if we decide to wear our hearts on our sleeves and take control of our sexual identities. Dating should not carry a stigma of abnormality on our campus. Why don’t we take our conversations beyond the late-night text, and get to know each other outside of the apartments?
Look out for upcoming events for Sexual Health Awareness Month. Stop by Heights on Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. for speed dating. Student Health on Campus (SHOC) and Male Athletes Against Violence will also be hosting a Sex Narratives night on Oct. 25, where students will read anonymous stories submitted by Colby students related to their experiences with the hook-up culture, alcohol and sex co-dependence, sexual assault and abuse, social norms and relationships.
SHOC is a student organization that works to educate Colby students about important health issues. SHOC organizes interactive events that promote awareness about mental health, nutrition, sexual health and alcohol and drug use. SHOC members also assist the Health Center with health seminars, clinics and other student services.