'Sexual Chaos' at College; Doctor Urges Call to Action against Excess

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 9, 2005 | Go to article overview

'Sexual Chaos' at College; Doctor Urges Call to Action against Excess


Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Parents and college officials must do more to address the "sexual chaos" on college campuses, says the founder of a medical group that promotes sexual health.

"The pressure on college youth to practice unhealthy behavior is much more intense than most adults realize," said Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney Jr., founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health in Austin, Texas.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common among college students, as are alcohol abuse, "date rape" and depression, he said.

Parents, university personnel and others who care about the well-being of young adults have to act, Dr. McIlhaney said. He offers a list of ideas, including a return to single-sex dorms and bathrooms, more abstinence and pro-marriage messages and parent-led "inspector committees" to track high-risk health behaviors on all U.S. campuses.

Dr. McIlhaney isn't the only one concerned about sexual libertinism on campus.

Theology professor Vigen Guroian has decried "the sex carnival that is college life today."

Colleges once denounced debauchery, Mr. Guroian noted in an article on the ChristianityToday.com Web site. "Today, colleges not only turn a blind eye to this behavior but also set up the conditions that foster and invite it," wrote Mr. Guroian, who teaches at Loyola College in Baltimore.

Indeed, college guidebooks talk about top "party" schools, while campus groups boldly advertise sex-toy sales, "fetish" fairs and other sexually oriented activities.

Barrett Seaman, author of a new book on "excesses" in campus life, sees all this but offers a more complex portrait.

Yes, coed dorms can be rife with "hookups" and underage drinking, Mr. Seaman writes in "Binge: What Your College Student Won't Tell You."

But in his visits to residential halls on 12 college campuses, the former Time correspondent also saw many dorms with adults on site, enforced "quiet hours," lounges filled with late-night talking and dormmates treating one another "more like brothers and sisters than sex objects."

University officials are "very attentive" to campus behavior problems, partly out of fear they will be sued for not protecting students, Mr. Seaman said. "What they have to do is be as prophylactic as possible, in any way they can. No pun intended."

As a result, most campuses offer ongoing anti-drinking, anti-rape, anti-STD campaigns, programs, services and peer-led presentations, as well as codes of conduct and disciplinary actions.

Alcoholic beverages - the "liquid courage" behind many dumb decisions - are a top target.

"Virtually every institution in the country has got its eye open about issues relating to alcohol," said Kevin Kruger of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

The goal, though, is behavior change rather than awareness, he said, because most college students "already know about STDs, AIDS and binge drinking."

Some colleges favor peer education programs, while others are using online courses like Outside the Classroom and E-Chug to show cohorts of students - such as freshmen or new fraternity members - that most of their peers don't binge drink, Mr. …

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