Published Mar 26, 2009 1:26 PM
In Westwood, as in the country, sex is a tough subject, and students here are as diverse in their attitudes about it as anywhere else.
Contraceptives are the most frequently sold prescriptions in the campus pharmacy, according to the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), and a 2002 study by the Ashe Center found that half of UCLA's undergraduate population engaged in sexual intercourse. That's why SHAC member Marissa Minna Lee '08 created a UCLA student-focused website on sex and sexuality called Aces Lux (an anagram of "UCLA sex") in 2005. And the subject is fertile ground for The Daily Bruin's love, sex and relationship columnist Nicole Forde '09. Here, the two share their views on student sexuality today.
Uncommitted but Sometimes Chivalrous
Forde — who gets her Daily Bruin column material from conversations with girlfriends, her boyfriend and even by "doing my best to eavesdrop as much as possible when I'm on campus" — sees less commitment between partners these days.
"Most of the girls I talk to are not necessarily in relationships," she explains. "I think the level of commitment in college has gone down, mostly because the expectation of the age you're supposed to start acting like an adult has been pushed back ... there's no such thing as a 'date' in the traditional form. I don't think anyone who went to UCLA with me ever asked me out on a traditional date. It's mostly about what is convenient in reference to time and finances. Now there's less time between meeting and courtship and when you get into intimate stuff. That leads to losing the commitment aspect."
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Forde thinks that, aside from knowing to wear a condom during sex, "students' range of sexual education is kind of baffling." She does caution against letting "stereotypes rule," however, such as the old saw about all boys being idiots — definitely not the case in Westwood. "Some of us still act with chivalry," she observes. "There may be phases, but it's not like the entire four years is meant to be a crazy orgy."
Peer-to-Peer Sex Ed
Lee, now a mental health policy advocate in Orange County, launched aceslux.com in the summer between her freshman and sophomore years because "a lot of people on my floor liked to ask me questions about medical things [and] I realized there were a lot of things I and my friends didn't know. A lot of students come to UCLA with abstinence-only education, or with very strange preconceptions about sex. And there really isn't a sex-ed course on the college level at UCLA."
Her decision to launch the online resource was born from that realization. The Ashe study finding that half of all undergrads have had sex meant that "if you aren't sexually active, at the very least you know people who are; and if you are, you should be informed," she adds. And she observes that during her time on campus, "sexual activity stayed pretty consistent. There are people who feel pretty strongly one way or the other."
"Students at UCLA are really responsible," Lee concludes. "They may not have all the information because they weren't taught it, or they may not have access because of the costs, but I don't think anyone goes out intentionally having irresponsible sex."
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