Higher Ed Discovers the Joys of Sex

Colleges and universities were once bare-bones places. Dorm rooms had all the charm of a Motel 6 and school-run cafeterias were comparable to those in high school. Recreation was, maybe, a TV room and a musty gym for pick-up basketball. No matter—education was about learning, not personal indulgence.

But, as tuition soars and competition for “blue-chippers” (the academically qualified able to pay outrageous tuition) has heated up, schools entered an amenities race. Barely edible dorm food has been replaced by fresh organic vegan Thai, while lavish sports facilities are available to everyone. Deluxe accommodations, not world-class libraries or famous faculty, are often highlighted to prospective attendees and their parents.

As is true for all arms races, pressure to outshine rivals is unrelenting. In this contest many schools have discovered an alluring amenity that is cheap and often irresistible: sex. Now, enroll in State U, and you won’t only enjoy a Club Med–like environment; you’ll receive, courtesy of the school itself, the one thing that makes the world go round—sex. Forget prudish administrators waging war on Mother Nature by limiting access to girls’ dorms or imposing strict curfews.

Instead, schools, often at taxpayer expense, can openly promote non-committal, free-wheeling sexual behavior—the more creative the better—at a fraction of the cost of other amenities. Now, while junior’s parents might read brochures about State U’s stellar science labs, junior has more hedonistic options in mind.

The mechanism linking higher education with primal human urges is the officially sponsored “sex week” that has become de rigueur on the contemporary campus. As pioneered in Scandinavia decades ago, sex is no longer “dirty” or God’s dictate to “be fruitful and multiply.” Instead, ample, guilt-free sex promotes health and self-expression. College is about learning, and surely this includes opportunities to explore one’s sexual identity. Who wants to be a klutz in the sack or have incapacitating hang-ups about what “comes naturally,” or even what might come unnaturally? Learning about sex is now comparable to being technologically literate—a necessary talent for every student.

Officially sanctioned lessons on the nitty-gritty of sexual activity are ubiquitous in today’s higher education. Everybody is just doing it, doing it, and schools are cheering it on. And, unsurprisingly, like all else on campus, wokeness abounds. Tulane University, for example, provides a “sex week” billed by organizers as a “diverse week of comprehensive, queer-inclusive, culturally-specific, sex-positive sexual health events and conversations.” Northwestern artfully removes anything “dirty” about its promotion of sex week by explaining that learning about today’s birds and bees  is “Spiritually anchored, it transmutes sexual energy into unwavering life force (manifestation)! It aligns the chakras, reminds us of our embodied wisdom, to ignite our fullest potential.” To calm nervous parents, Northwestern assures them that everything is being overseen by Coriama, a “pleasure activist, artist and sensual activator.”

[Related: “Free to Divide and Indoctrinate”]

The über-intellectual University of Chicago’s sex week, befitting its reputation for cutting-edge thinking, offered workshops that included a chance to be tied up or flogged. “Taste of Kink” will have students find out “what a flogger feels like.” The “Sex and Pain: From Ow to Wow” event description states students will “learn more about sexual pain and the ways to manage it …”

Meanwhile, that beacon of enlightenment—Harvard—once offered a half dozen workshops where, among other things, students can print their own 3-D sex toys. Beginners need not worry—the befuddled will be assisted by experts from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. For those who want to blend religion and sexual adventurism, one of the workshops was “Religion and Spirituality: Conversations on Sex and BGLTQ Identity.”

College-approved hands-on sex education is not, however, just not for the elite. The State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry offers “Inclusive Sex-Positive Sex Education” that features a talk on “Monogamy, Polyamory, and Relationship Anarchy, Consent and Communication, Sexual Health, Porn, Sex Toys, Kink, and more.” Then there’s the sex week at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which offers eleven separate events including a do-it-yourself sex toy workshop where students can use toy molds to make their own sex toy using a silicone mixture.  Perhaps realizing that in today’s pleasure-saturated world, sex by itself hardly suffices, the University of Louisville recently hosted a “Condoms and Candy” event during its four-day Welcome Week. And on and on and on.

A cynic might aver that such “instruction” just transforms sex into an advice column from Consumer Reports—“How to choose the right sex toy”—or that pushing sex might solve the shortage of males on campus. Meanwhile, traditionalists might advise that schools would be better served if romance—for example, ballroom dancing—replaced raunchy sex education.

These are all reasonable criticisms, of course, but there are deeper issues in academia’s eye-catching X-rated enterprises. Most obviously, these sex weeks further illustrate how colleges and universities are “housebreaking” youngsters by bringing everything on campus to facilitate dependency. Long gone are the days when even freshman lived independently in rented private rooms, cooked their own meals, and found their own entertainment and medical care. No wonder universities hate fraternities—the frats help youngsters learn to live apart from the all-controlling campus bureaucracy. Today, university bureaucrats excel in custodial care, and one can only wonder if the current crop of undergraduates could survive unaided.

Sexual behavior per se is not the issue. Schools are not juicing adolescent hormones—Mother Nature does that. Now, however, topics once learned “in the gutter” are being taught by college-employed experts. Those tempted by kinky sex can rely on instructors with MAs in human sexuality who might suggest exploring one’s non-binary self-definition.

[Related: “College Students Required to Detail Sexual History Before Registering for Classes”]

Promoting hyper-sexuality is also therapeutic, a release of tension on campuses often filled with anger and resentment (“letting off steam,” as the old saying goes). Freud may be ignored in the psychology department, but his message about the evils of sexual suppression is au courant on many of today’s campuses. If only little Adolf Hitler had some decent sexual outlets, WWII may have been averted.

In a sense, when universities promote this hyper-sexuality as an antidote to stress and anger, they are continuing an earlier policy of shipping off disruptive students to the school nurse’s office for a Ritalin or Adderall prescription. One does not have to be a conspiracy nut to speculate that the recent legalization of “medical” marijuana (and narcotics flowing across the open Southern border) will further “cool” hostility and anger. And if sex fails to provide the calming therapy, the school’s health services can generously prescribe anti-depressants. A little Zoloft might even have turned Abbie Hoffman into a harmless zombie.

Finally, this rush to provide every imaginable amenity might help distract students from what they are really buying for their sky-high tuition. It is as if colleges employed a “Dean of Bread and Circuses,” a position “… to generate public approval, not by excellence in public service or public policy, but by diversion, distraction, or by satisfying the most immediate or base requirements of a populace, by offering a palliative: for example food (break) or entertainment (circuses).”

Absent such a functionary, students at Club Med College might ask awkward questions about graduates with degrees in frivolous majors unable to repay crushing student loans. Or the many social justice programs whose purpose is only to provide iffy degrees to academically challenged youngsters who should not have been admitted in the first place. Or hiring professors whose only qualification is their race or ethnicity. Or a campus environment that suppresses intellectual freedom—among many other awkward but seldom asked questions.

But why worry about these academic trivialities when the upcoming sex week advertises a cornucopia of lessons on achieving coital bliss?


Image: LunaKate, Adobe Stock

Robert Weissberg

Robert Weissberg is a professor emeritus of political science at The University of Illinois-Urbana.

8 thoughts on “Higher Ed Discovers the Joys of Sex

  1. Comrade Bob, Old Man — Relax! Or maybe realize that you may be fretting about the wrong stuff. Despite the impression the schools try to give, there is abundant evidence that today’s students are indulging in sex much less than when those in the 60’s thought they had discovered this Last Great Thing. (Even then, actually, while it was sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, it was far from clear that it was in that order). What is holding the students back is not clear — something in the water, perhaps related to the documented drop in sperm counts and testosterone? All that online porn? I dunno. But the campus sex fairs have an air of whistling past the graveyard, in my opinion. We should only wish that they were as “stimulating” as some onlookers fear. I admit, it’s getting pretty weird with tampons in the men’s rooms and unisex group restrooms — I’ll let people reflect on this if they haven’t encountered it yet. Yes, it’s arrived on some campuses, and if some people have their way — President Biden? — it will be coming to the Metropolitan Opera — to say nothing of your local gradeschool.

  2. Professor Weissberg forgot to mention the 2011 ‘Dear Colleague’ letter sent by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) to campuses nationally. The letter dictated sexual conduct standards and procedures in the way that put the accused at a severe disadvantage. While rescinded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in 2017, the letter still exerts a profound influence.

    This seems at odds with the ‘sex weeks’, to say the very least. The only way the two can be reconciled is if consent becomes the basis of sexual morality. (This is a consent that in certain cases can be withdrawn after the fact.)

    Perhaps colleges, as educational institutions, should take a week to discuss the different philosophies underlying morality and why they have adopted their current standards.

    1. Perhaps the “sex weeks” are necessary BECAUSE OF the pandemic manbashing.

      Note that these “sex weeks” are not the “freshman mixers” of an earlier era, nor are today’s undergrads as innocent as in years past — they were watching hard-core porn in the 4th grade.

      I need to emphasize that point — smartphones eliminated any pretense of internet filtering.

      Note also that these “sex weeks” neither address neither address normal sex nor what used to be called “dating.”

      It’s everything else but…

  3. First, the Thai food is CHEAPER — think a ton of beef versus a ton of rice. It also disconnects from the comfort foods of childhood.

    The goal is like that of the cult — to sever the individual from the parents.

  4. This latest fad not only promotes dependency, it allows institutions to penetrate (sic) the private sphere, which fades further away. Do students even realize that their private selves, too, are being taken over, managed by institutions that should be dedicated to their intellectual development? Time to re-read Huxley’s Brave New World. Promotion/facilitation of sexual behavior is as much a form of social control as its prohibition/suppression.

    1. Brave New World was the impetus for writing the essay though it was not mentioned. In a sense, the current infatuation with university sponsored “sex week” is a return to an earlier era of in loco parentis. Here, however, the effort was to suppress sexuality. I can still recall when I was a freshman at Syracuse University in 1959 when a dean gave a talk at my dorm on the evils of masturbation. This talk was famous and we all paid rapt attention.

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