"Birds and the Bees" talk gives a sting of embarrassment
The sex talk can be an awkward occasion, especially if you’re required to sign a contract about your individual sexual activity with your brand new roommate and overlooking resident assistant.
For students living in University housing, this is just an uncomfortable part of the getting-to-know-you process.
Currently, it’s part of the Apartment Living Agreement, falling under number 13’s “Guest Arrangements Affectional Partner” section. Roommates are expected to sit down with their R.A. and set ground rules concerning masturbation and sex within just a few weeks of moving in. This includes creating a signal that will let the other person know if the room is in use, discussing masturbation and agreeing to let the other roommate know when their partner is coming over. It also asks a question about privacy, and whether or not sexual activity should be scheduled in advance or if a sign on the door is good enough.
Good ideas in concept, but discussing masturbation with someone you just met isn’t the best icebreaker.
As a part of communal living, sex is an important topic to discuss, just like doing the dishes and cleaning, but the conversation shouldn’t require a signature or an R.A.’s presence.
It appears that the main goal of the Apartment Living Agreement is to ensure that all residents have the same equal rights to use the space and that responsibilities get divided up between roommates. The APA is meant to “achieve fairness and unity” and ensure that all residents are aware of the university housing policies, but sex does not need to be apart of this signed agreement.
Everyone has different level of comfort when it comes to talking about sex, and a forced embarrassing interaction isn’t the best way to foster good communication when the parties involved have been thrown together in a new living situation.
Instead, the process should be optional. Guidelines should be offered and suggestions about conversation guides could both be very helpful. R.A.s should be on-hand to mediate disagreements and encourage discussion, but should not go so far as to require a contract to be drawn-up and signed.
This is sex, not a lease, large purchase or legally binding agreement. It should not require a signature. It should not be required at all.
Part of going to college and living in the dorms is learning to communicate. It’s part of growing up. It should be left up to the roommates to discuss sex and masturbation, much like they should be able to figure out how to divvy the increasing cost of toilet paper.
Problems will arise and drama will happen. Sometimes these disagreements will need to be mediated, but the mediation process can occur without referring back to a finalized contract. Good judgment and common sense should apply without a special “adult section” in a contract.