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Tufts to Students: Cut That Out!

Enough was enough, apparently.  After receiving “a significant number of complaints last year from residents bothered by their roommates’ sexual behavior,” Tufts has banned dorm room canoodling when roomie is present.  The policy further states that “any sexual activity in the room should not interfere with a roommate’s privacy, study habits or sleep.”

It wouldn’t be a new regulation from a campus life organization if there weren’t some doublespeak involved, so here’s Office of Residential Life and Learning’s Carrie Ales-Rich on why this new policy really isn’t a policy at all:

The sex policy, Ales-Rich said, is intended as a tool to facilitate conversation and compromise between roommates, rather than simply proscribe behavior. Ales-Rich emphasized that ResLife hopes students will be able to resolve the issues on their own instead of allowing conflicts to reach a point at which the office has to intervene.

“We want to make perfectly clear that we do not want to hinder someone from engaging in any personal or private activity,” she said. “But when it becomes uncomfortable for the roommate, we want to have something in place that empowers the residents to have a good conversation with the roommate.”

Yes, because those conversations always go better when one sophomore can threaten the other. Also note that the Tufts administration apparently did not consult the student government or really any students before it made the change.

ResLife saw a need to take the lead in addressing the issue due to its sensitive nature, according to Ales-Rich. “We found in the past that when it comes to sexual activity in the room, students find it an uncomfortable topic to talk about,” she said.

In short, Tufts bureaucrats don’t think their kids have the capacity to talk about sex, so they unilaterally created a new set of rules, which won’t have to be enforced because kids will talk about sex amongst themselves.

No word yet on whether the new policy will cover ties on doorknobs, condom theft, or threesome remorse.

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#1 Comment By JeffZ On September 28, 2009 @ 10:33 am

Wow, ridiculous. Unintended consequence number one: increase in sexiles at Tufts.

#2 Comment By Dick Swart On September 28, 2009 @ 10:51 am

What ever happened to hanging a tie on the doorknob? Oh, yeah … no ties!

#3 Comment By Jr. Mom On September 28, 2009 @ 11:05 am

Ohhhhh…so that’s why my son packed a tie.

(I’ve heard that a sock on the doorknob signifies…something)

#4 Comment By hwc On September 28, 2009 @ 11:56 am

Quite a contrast to this article appearing in the current issue of the Swarthmore Phoenix:

Free Condoms to be Placed in dorms within the week

This is a student driven inititiative in addition to the 8000 condoms a year distributed by the Health Center through the RAs.

#5 Comment By JeffZ On September 28, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

I am perplexed, why would Swarthmore students have any need for condoms??

[Just kidding — couldn’t resist]

#6 Comment By frank uible On September 28, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

This whole subject has to be a joke.

#7 Comment By ebaek On September 28, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

I think because Williams have so many single residential rooms that a policy like this probably wouldn’t go in to effect here, ever.

But I mean, we go to Williams. I would think the students would be smart enough to handle it amongst themselves and won’t need the college to set certain rules for privacy.

#8 Comment By jeffz On September 29, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

#9 Comment By Ronit On September 30, 2009 @ 12:09 am

I enjoyed that Sommers article:

But what Joe Wilson and… shall we say, overzealous Tufts students teach us is that as powerful as norms are, some rules aren’t strong enough when they remain unwritten. I agree with the critics–I never would have imagined that a formal rule like this was necessary. But apparently it is. And apparently I’m lucky that the worst thing my freshman roommate did was hit the snooze button on his alarm clock four times each morning before his early math class.

Why is the rule now on the books? Though I don’t profess to have played any role in its creation, I imagine that it has little to do with actual enforcement and everything to do with making clear what should have been self-evident to obliviously inconsiderate roommates. Hopefully, having the rule in effect will serve as a reminder that this type of behavior is unacceptable. And the next person to run afoul of it will have lost the ability to argue that he was trying to be discreet or that she didn’t know she was doing anything wrong.

In other words, Tufts has now effectively rendered moot the notorious Costanza Defense (because, let’s face it, no discussion of norms is complete without at least a brief tip of the cap to Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, who have built entertainment dynasties by exploring on their shows the power of norms and the consequences of violating them).