Why a sex survey?

It’s not often that the word “sex” graces the Record’s front page headlines. Rather than a ploy to attract the attention of the aloof passer-by, however, the recent inquiry into student sex life on campus takes a serious look into a central – but rarely recorded – aspect of College culture. Although motivated in part by curiosity, the survey owes its genesis to a sincere desire to chart the sexual atmosphere on campus as well as to leave a historical record of certain social trends.

Whether you’re in one or not, sexual relationships are an inescapable presence on campus. Indeed, they dictate the course of our own, or our friends’, social lives. However, open discourse regarding sex is often relegated to the domain of drinking games, or otherwise manifests itself as gossip. When sex – especially the pervasiveness of sex on college campuses – is discussed outside these spheres, it tends to become sensationalized.

A desire for a more serious, and less sensational, look into college relationships does not mean that we wish to hand over the responsibility to non-students, however. Unless relationships become hurtful, this is not an issue for the administration. As students we acknowledge that sexual culture is important to us, and thus we wish to take ownership of it through a serious and reasoned study.

This is partly why we attempted to assess this sexual culture in a quantifiable fashion. And although our numbers cannot perfectly encapsulate the state of relationships on campus, they at least shed some light on the subject and allow us to take an objective look at our sexual lifestyles.

Some of these numbers may help dispel certain myths. For instance, pitting this week’s results against those collected in a similar survey 32 years ago, reveals that the current generation has not become significantly more promiscuous. Other data are equally surprising. Although we cannot be sure that the 42 percent of students in relationships are involved with other Williams students, the number suggests that the dating scene on campus may not be as dead as many think it is.

The survey also leaves a historical record by which future generations can assess important aspects of our culture. If sexual relationships are indeed such a large part of campus life, then it would be irresponsible to let such an integral facet of our social experience go unrecorded. As we compared our data to the 1976 numbers, future generations can similarly mark shifts in their social culture by evaluating them in regards to this week’s numbers.

If nothing else, these numbers can help contextualize aspects of your social experience on campus. It just goes to show that “never-have-I-ever” isn’t the only way to gauge your sexual tendencies.

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