Dean’s Office Web site to host essays about sex

Even the Yale College Dean’s Office is interested in Yale’s sex scene.

With the overhaul of its Web site this coming summer, the Dean’s Office will post a new student-generated essay collection under the title “sex@yale.” The site will include 500- to 1,000-word essays by current undergraduates, allowing them to reflect anonymously on their sexual experiences at Yale and their impressions of the sexual culture here.

The Web site will not be password protected, so anyone can read it, said Melanie Boyd, director of undergraduate studies in Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies and the new special advisor to the dean of Yale College on gender issues.

Laura Gottesdiener ’10, co-chair of the project’s editorial board, said she appreciates Yale’s progressiveness in supporting the initiative.

“The Dean’s Office wants it to be from the students, for the students and by the students,” she said.

The idea grew out of a meeting in October between Women’s Center board members and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou. In the wake of the “Pre-season Scouting Report” scandal this past fall, in which unidentified students circulated an e-mail ranking the attractiveness of incoming female freshmen, administrators decided to consider ways to contribute positively to the sexual culture on campus, Boyd said.

Boyd said she wondered why Yale was no longer distributing pamphlets and holding lectures on sexuality, as it had done when the College first admitted women in 1969. In response, the Women’s Center and the Dean’s Office decided to create an online forum where students could understand the range of sexual experiences on campus.

“There’s a real need for students to have space to think about what happens to them and what they want to have happen,” Boyd said.

The Women’s Center intentionally ceded the project to Boyd’s jurisdiction because members of the center thought the project would gain a wider variety of participants if it distinguished itself from the Women’s Center, said Alice Buttrick ’10 and Rachel Achs ’10, the center’s former and current public relations coordinators, respectively.

Boyd now spearheads the sex@yale initiative as chair of a 22-person advisory board of faculty and administrators overseeing the program, which supports a 15-person student steering committee made up of undergraduates contacted by the Dean’s Office. While the advisory board provides guidance, the students manage the initiative, recruiting writers and planning the site, Boyd said.

English Department lecturer Fred Strebeigh, the course director for English 120 who joined the faculty advisory board Thursday, said the Web site will allow students to hear valuable stories from one another.

“What I admire about the concept of the sex@yale initiative is its goal of using many narratives that show, as the shapers of the initiative put it, ‘student strategies for creatively navigating Yale’s sexual culture,’ ” he said in an e-mail.

According to Boyd, the Web site is not meant to provide instructions, such as how to put on a condom, or other information about sex that can already be found easily online. Though the essay collection will not address health directly, Boyd said she has approached Yale University Health Services about linking to sexual health resources on the sex@yale Web site.

Boyd said the site will offer 70 to 80 specific different perspectives, following a checklist of experiences and backgrounds the site will ideally represent. Boyd and her recruiters have reached out to the cultural houses, athletic teams, and the international and LGBTQ communities on campus soliciting submissions, she said. The project’s design will be entirely student-determined, though the Dean’s Office will pay the small cost of graphic design, Boyd said.

Student organizers said the initiative will attempt to change Yale’s sex culture and overturn the perception that it is dominated by casual hook-ups. But Gottesdiener was careful to emphasize that the initiative is not against hook-ups per se; rather, it will elaborate on it by showing that sexual encounters at Yale go far beyond the hook-up scene, she said.

Boyd added that the content of the site will reflect core values of consent, desire and “being thoughtful.”

The five sex@yale student coordinators interviewed said they think the student body as a whole is dissatisfied with Yalies’ social standards and expectations about sex, and they agreed that fall of freshman year — which Claire Gordon ’10, co-chair of sex@yale’s recruitment board, said is “confusing and often very isolating” — is a particularly vulnerable period. (Gordon writes a sex and dating column for the News.) Gottesdiener said the online essay collection will “fill this huge gap,” providing emotional support for freshman.

Stephen Silva ’10, co-coordinator of Queer Peers, a peer counseling organization for LGBT students, said he thinks the success of the initiative will depend on how strongly it emphasizes open communication among people of a wide range of sexual experiences. Noting that the site has the potential to have profound effects on students’ early college experiences, he said it is important that the site’s content teach students about the different sexual ideologies of their classmates.

Leaders of the initiative added that they hope the site will endure for many years and will morph over time to include new essays and different perspectives.

The steering committee will receive the first wave of submissions March 29. The list of contributors is approaching 100 students, Gottesdiener said.


  • Recent Alum

    The YDN is increasingly indistinguishable from the Onion.

  • Is it April Fool’s Day?

    Are you kidding me?

  • Y ’10

    I’m really excited about this project. I wish there had been a resource like this when I was a freshman… all I knew about sex on campus was what I heard from other equally uninformed freshmen. It would have been really helpful to hear some first-hand accounts from other Yalies about how to get what you want out of sex or a hook-up before I just jumped right into it. Hell, I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. Bring on the essays!

  • alum 2

    What is next? A link to the transgender porn star on the Dean’s Web site?

  • Cynical Cindy

    Of course! Since they talk about it so much already and never get anywhere, maybe talking about it even more will be productive. (Expecting a different result from the same action…)

    I think it’s OK not to jump in with everybody on the narcissistic chatter. A free mind bores of the same-old same-old.

  • BWitt

    “There’s a real need for students to have space to think about what happens to them and what they want to have happen,”

    What a bunch of wilting flowers. While I would be delighted for any of my children to be accepted to such a prestigious university, I am appalled this is what passes for academic life.

  • HY’95

    haha! What could go wrong?

    It will take a week for the ‘anonymous’ essays to degrade into explicit tall tales of conquest and glory, whilst the tender voices of diversity bemoan the frat-boy mentallity of today’s youth.

  • Yale ’12

    Oh my God!! What is it happening to this school?

  • Faculty Member

    The comments on the YDN website never cease to amaze me. How can people associated with this great university be so anti-, well, anti-THINKING? This website will encourage reflection, critical thought, and diverse perspectives on a topic that is rarely spoken of but is important for all of us, no matter how (or whether) we chose engage in it. What could be better? This initiative, and all similar reflection, should only be welcomed by members of the Yale community–students, faculty, and staff.

  • FailBoat

    Hey guys! If we talk about sex some more, maybe we’ll convince ourselves that we’re not overcompensating for our social insecurities and crippling feelings of sexual inadequacies!

  • Yale ’10

    I know that I certainly wish we’d had access to something this when I was a freshman…who doesn’t feel overwhelmed by issues related to sex at one time or another? Wouldn’t it be great to read about someone who went through something similar and find out how they handled it?

    The website isn’t even up yet – why don’t we see what it looks like before deciding it’s an end to Yale as we know it?

  • @ HY’95

    You clearly misunderstood the project. The essays are going to be read, edited, re-written by the authors, and edited again before making it onto the website.

  • Y10

    I’m glad we have to have the same old debate as just occurred on The Herald’s bullblog.

    First, to respond:

    Cynical Cindy: Where would we be without your negative attitude? I’m glad that you’re here to assert that any attempts to open a new conversation would just reproduce the past, failed discourse.

    Alum #2: I’m glad you have a problem with transgender individuals and their sexuality. Would you like to attach a name to this prejudice?

    BWitt: I’m glad that you are an authority on what constitutes valuable academic work. Not too many years ago, African American studies, post colonial studies, and any gender studies were also considered a waste of academic attention. Now that these important disciplines have been internalized into the academy, I see no reason that sexuality studies can’t and shouldn’t be as well.

    In my opinion, the success or failure of this project will depend on the ability for our community to imagine a more accepting, more compassionate, and more enjoyable future for all of its members. If you want to ridicule this possibility, by all means, go ahead. But I encourage you to take a moment to decide if you want to be part of the group that, through negativity and inaction, works to reproduce an inequitable system, or the group that, through optimism and action, works to produce positive change.

  • Sex@Yale Steering Committee

    This site is being created by the sex@yale initiative, a group of students with faculty and high-level administrative support. It will be operated through the Dean’s Office pages. We’re excited about it – it’s going to be a great resource for all Yale students, but especially first-years.

    We want a very wide range of perspectives: gay, straight, bi, trans, experimenting; abstinent (by choice or not), monogamous, or open; in and out of relationships; after violence, illness, or other life-altering events; initial sexual explorations and long experience in the world of casual hook-ups; guided by faith, pleasure, and/or workload. Each of these viewpoints will offer a unique vision of successful “sex at Yale.” Ideally, every different campus subculture will be richly represented, from religious groups to cultural houses, from theater groups to fraternities. These essays will come together to form a diverse, thoughtful student guide.

    The angle, tone and style of each essay are flexible. Most essays will range from 500-800 words, but there is no strict word limit.

    All essays will be published anonymously. Writers will work with members of the sex@yale initiative who can help with brainstorming, writing, and editing.

    If you have any questions or are interested in writing, please email us at If you would like to be anonymous from the students working on the site, you can submit an essay via Carole Goldberg (

  • Kris Baxivanos ’10

    I have been working on a submission to the Sex@Yale Initiative website the past few days. Reflecting on my experience navigating sex and dating on campus has been a powerful process, especially thinking about how well I have communicated my desires and how my erotic and romantic desires have changed. Drafting a submission has also been remarkably fun and funny (some nights and some hook-ups and some sexual positions should have just never happened!)

    The website will encourage a sexually articulate student body; that is, a campus aware of and able to communicate platonic, erotic, or romantic desires. The more variegated the student submissions, the more representative the website will be of our campus sexual culture and, ultimately, the more helpful the resource will be to incoming and current students.

    I encourage everyone to reflect on your time at Yale and submit to the Sex@Yale Initiative website.

  • mtm

    Wow, what ever happened to privacy? Why not just keep it to yourself you narcissistic creepy people? Are you so full of yourselves that you think we want to read about your clumsy attempts at intimacy? Get over yourselves. Perhaps the faculty just want a vicarious thrill reading the youngster’s pathetic ramblings. Super creepy!
    Anyone who needs to read other people’s sex lives in order to feel normal needs some help. Seriously.

  • Simon

    Well it appears that Yale has lost any sense of simple decency. Why has Yale allowed itself to become another example of the sexualization of our society to the point of believing that this website is the right way to deal with personal sexual behavior issues. Yale is so out of touch with a large majority of people who just believe that personal sexual exploits should not be made public for everyone to read. Sometime before all of this nonsense came forth I would have considered sending my daughter to Yale, but not any more. Its really quite a sad and pathetic commentary about what Yale stands for nowadays.

  • Is It April Fool’s Day?


    As a faculty member, you think that [sex is] “a topic that is rarely spoken of…?” I repeat: Are you kidding me?

  • PC ’10

    @HY’95 While the essays are going to be anonymous, they will be moderated. This is not about pornography or about bragging of sexual exploits, it is a space for serious and thoughtful discussion of sex: why we do it the way we do it and why we don’t if we don’t; how we’ve learned to figure out what we want, communicate that with others and have meaningful romantic or sexual experiences. The project is about breaking the taboo on serious talk about sex on campus. It is about inviting students to think critically about their own lives, not just about their textbooks. Too often discussions of sex on campus are reduced to the kind of “tall tales” or amusing anecdotes you mention, told over the next morning’s brunch. We’re looking for the honest and helpful conversations about attraction, desire, comfort levels and respect that get dismissed off-hand as “too real.”

    The kind of comments posted so far (“What is this university coming to??”, etc) prove just how pervasive and stifling this discourse around sex is. Please stop pretending that sex is irrelevant to our lives at Yale: who we date or hook-up with or have massive unrequited crushes on shapes our campus experience in big ways. To try to ignore that is asinine. Tell me, why shouldn’t I think critically and thoughtfully about my past and future sexual or romantic experiences? About my desires and how to fulfill them? And why shouldn’t we encourage our incoming classmates to do the same? Because the romance and the sex are most often happening in the university’s dorm rooms and apartments, involving Yale students, I think the Dean’s Office does have a legitimate interest in encouraging us to think about what we’re doing, what we want and what we don’t, and how to be intimate without hurting ourselves or others.

    I would encourage all of you who are skeptical of this project to take a look at some of the prompts and questions posed to potential authors of the essays. There are a lot of things I had certainly never considered before; if they stir some thought for you, too, I really hope you’ll consider writing for the initiative, we’re looking for all different voices, especially ones who aren’t comfortable with transgendered porn stars or putting condoms on bananas. We would love to give you space to speak your piece about how you feel about sex at Yale. I, for one, would love to read some thoughtful, well-written essays about being abstinent at Yale or why you feel uncomfortable talking about sex.

  • re: simon

    This website is not about glorifying promiscuity, “sexual behavior issues” or the “sexualization of our society”–it’s about preparing young adults for an environment that involves sex, peers having sex, or no sex.

    One day your daughter will be in college. One day your daughter will be having sex. And you daughter will need someone to talk to, to learn from…if its not going to be you, and god forbid its some sleezy frat boy, let’s hope this website tells her about what kind of place she’s matriculating to.

  • @Simon

    @Simon Oh Yale… just like that crazy Galileo who was so out of touch with the overwhelming majority of folks who knew that the Sun revolved around the Earth.

    Yale doesn’t follow majority opinions, it forges its own path guided by the wisdom of centuries of scholars and the exuberant energy of its passionate student body.

    When people are taught not to talk about sex, how can we expect them to seek help after a rape? When people are taught not to talk about sex, how can we expect them to figure out what they want in bed and communicate that to their partner/spouse? I appreciate that not everyone feels comfortable with this stuff, but the silence around sex has hurt too many people, it is time to speak up.

  • LOLx10

    yawn, why not just open an account for Yale on and save the programmers some time.

  • Y’11

    There seems to be an expectation that sex should be something that just “happens” without discussion or reflection, and that students entering our campus should know exactly what they want (whether that involve engaging in sex, abstaining from it, or anything in between).
    Yet, I remember as a freshperson who was decidedly not having sex, I was completely overwhelmed with the scene here my first year, when it seemed that “hooking up” was the only thing anyone wanted or even understood to be an option. Now, as a rising senior, I should hope that this initiative provides not only freshpeople, but everyone at our university the opportunity to understand the array of experiences and endless possibilities for personal choice in navigating the sexual culture of Yale.
    I am glad that the Dean’s Office is in support of this project, and I am proud to be a part of a university in which we are able to engage in critical discussion and encourage active reflection on a topic so often silenced in our society.

  • re: Kris Baxivanos ’10

    “The website will encourage a sexually articulate student body; that is, a campus aware of and able to communicate platonic, erotic, or romantic desires. The more variegated the student submissions, the more representative the website will be of our campus sexual culture and, ultimately, the more helpful the resource will be to incoming and current students.”

    I hope everyone else hears this.

  • Yale Feminist

    I love you, Kris Baxivanos. This sounds pretty cool.

  • Tanner

    What’s the old saying “The ones that talk about it the most, don’t do it at all.” This tired old 70’s nonsense is not new its just on a different format. Can’t “This Great University” come up with an original idea.
    Please keep the moaning to a minumum while you carefully edit your home page Dean.

  • Yale 08

    You know what would be truly groundbreaking?

    If Yale came out in support of chastity and modesty!

    Yale’s “radicals” and “free-thinkers” are just the status quo, just a bunch of majoritarians.

  • Kris Baxivanos ’10

    @#27: Chastity and modesty are a part of Yale’s sexual culture! Those who abstain from sex or practice modesty should write about their experience for this website so that incoming students can be “free-thinkers” and learn more about how to navigate sex at Yale as they desire to, possible “chastely”

    @#24: Spread the word!
    @ #25: thanks.

  • yale’12

    Can we please just stop talking about sex? Sexual education for the importance of 1) acceptance of all lifestyles 2) the personal safety and health of students is fantastic. But lately there has been too much sex. Transgender porn stars? A forum about how to improve your oral sex skills? A sex toys showcase? Essays about personal sexual experiences on the dean’s website? A website to help us find our crushes and missed connections (aka desired hook-up partners)?

    I have nothing against sex, morally or otherwise. It’s just that all of this is very distracting!! I don’t pay $50,000 a year to be here to learn to improve my sex life! I’m here to study and learn; I don’t want to feel inadequate and prudish for not having time for a sex life.

    Basically, I would appreciate it if this distraction went away. Enough is enough. Make sure we’re educated, responsible, and please leave it at that.

  • 10 again

    I think number ten was right. Sex Week, sex articles, sex websites…maybe if they write about it enough, people will forget the crippling social inadequacy, general unattractiveness, and palpable sexual frustration that there is here. or there’s always the next juicy campus.

    Everyone here needs to get laid.

  • faculty

    This disgusts me. Not on prudish grounds. But the sad fact is that there are a lot of important things for Yale students to discuss in a public way. Sex is not one of them.

  • @13

    Yale had Sex week to figure out the sex issue. It was enough. There is no need for Dean’s website to host Sex@Yale as if Sex is the most important issue at Yale (Maybe it is.)

    There are so many people in the world simply try to survive; they do not have the luxury to figure out Sex. And they reproduce fine. Get out of the Sex box do something useful (such as helping Haiti). Figure out Sex when you are married and want to reproduce.

    Thank you #29

  • Faculty Member (#9 above)

    @ 18 and others who think there is already too much talk about sex:

    This is not a bad point to make at all, although I fail to see why it needs to be made so vituperatively and with such contempt. There is indeed an awful lot of talk — and ads and news and everything else — about sex. This is true at Yale and in broader contemporary American culture. My point, and I think the point of the initiative under discussion, is that much of this talk comes to a crashing halt when it comes to actual, live college students figuring out what they want or do not want (in general or at a particular moment) and how to successfully accomplish it. In that silence can lurk a lot of loneliness, confusion, and, on occasion, the conditions for much worse things like sexual assault. This gap—-between lots of sex talk in the air and almost no talk about the concrete dilemmas of how an actual college-age person goes about having or not having sex—-is reported by many Yale students, confirmed by national research and reporting (there was an NPR story that touched on this not long ago), and, probably for both of these reasons, is quite appropriately on the radar screen of the student life professionals in the Dean’s Office.

  • Pierson ’10

    Wish I could rescind my senior class gift contribution now. We’re laying off faculty and cutting budgets, but Yale can find the money to indulge some students’ narcissistic, exhibitionist brat behavior on the college’s website. Unbelievable. I may just sent a “Not In My Name” card back in my alumni giving envelope next year.

  • Class of ’94

    TO Pierson ’10: There is no reason why you can’t rescind your senior gift. Until Yale cuts a lot of its waste and addresses a bureaucracy ballooning in proportion to faculty, there’s absolutely no reason to subsidize waste. Your money would be far better spent elsewhere.

  • JE ’71

    My Yale is dead.

    Just kidding. I had to put that it there, as a reminder of what Old Blues always say when there’s a change like this. You should have been around when Yale went co-ed. (I’m proud to be a member of the first co-ed class at Yale.) Best of luck.

  • ’12

    @ By Is It April Fool’s Day?

    The whole thing reminds me of a joke I heard last year about the topics of conversation for various groups:
    Undergrads are obsessed by sex and never miss an opportunity to talk about it.
    Similarly, conversations among grad students tend to center around politics.
    And what do professors talk about? The parking on campus.

    I guess there’s more truth to that than I realized.


  • Madeline Johnson ’10

    I think the Sex at Yale Initiative is a valuable contribution to our campus. Managing one’s sex life (or decidedly lack thereof) is an issue that all Yale students will have to face while on campus. Figuring out how to express one’s sexuality and why are concerns all Yalies face and reading the stories of fellow students can help raise questions and inform one’s decision. I believe the Sex at Yale Initiative promotes an a more wholistic understanding of students’ experiences at Yale by prompting students to think about their life outside of the classroom. Since all Yale students have to engage the issue of how to situate themselves in relation to Yale’s sexual culture, it is valuable that the adminitration is providing a forum for students to do so.

  • yalie11

    Oh please, what’s next? Front page of the Yale website: The best oral sex of your life! Come to Yale to learn the art of fellatio!

    Why don’t we just lay off some of our most prominent professors so we can afford something that’s really worth our students’ time, like sexologists, hookers, and strippers. That way, no one can say they didn’t have a sex life here at Yale!

  • ’09

    Some of the ideas here are nice in spirit, but I feel like this is doesn’t match the real essential quality of being at Yale. I liked it here because I had so much latitude and freedom for exploration. I didn’t have a structured or regulated lifestyle there in any area, and I had the room and opportunity to really find myself and make my own way in all aspects of life. Much of that is the environment- Yale is a particularly warm and accepting place (unless you’re a Republican) so, wherever you plant your flag extra-curricularly, academically, sexually, ideologically, or otherwise, you do so in a safe environment with open discourse.

    While I agree that strongly encouraging open dialogue and providing more resources for dealing with sexual assault and other malignant behaviors is always a right step, I dislike this method because it takes away from the real openness of personal exploration. You’re essentially giving young students some “stock versions” of sexual life, creating expectations that many will feel pressured to follow. Sex is an important part of life, during and after college, but one’s particular relationship to sex is personal, and should be formed individually, rather than modeled on some seeming ‘stock pattern.’ I don’t think it’s the university’s role to guide students through the development of their sex lives.

  • Faculty

    There is nothing wrong with this initiative on its own. But surely Yale College has more pressing issues,and it would be nice to get the Dean’s attention on something that really matters. For example:

    — the collapse of many humanities disciplines as undergraduate majors

    — bad teaching in the sciences

    — grossly unfair grading practices across departments; majoring in some departments means a GPA reduction of about 1 whole letter compared to something like English

    — cutbacks in the number of grad students that will mean even worse TAs (as more have no real competence in the subject they are teaching)

  • Emma Guttman-Slater ’11

    Many of these comments attacking the initiative fall in line with the exact attitude that the sex@yale project is trying to address- a prudish silence around the subject of sex. Sex–or waiting to have sex– is a REALITY, especially in college. The whole college experience, frankly, is not purely an academic one- it is inherently about one’s personal development, which often includes exploring one’s sexuality. I believe in this project especially because of the misogyny that I see on campus and that we all hear about in the form of one incident or another at Yale in the news. More than any kind of “sex signals” performance can achieve, this project will hopefully show people the range of healthy sexual experiences people can and do have so men and women know that consent is an active process and that many different types of relationships occur on campus, among other things.

    This initiative, as has been reiterated, is not to give you tips on how to “improve your sex life” (@#29), it is to help freshpersons navigate sexual culture and Yale and open them up to a wide variety of views and experiences. Please read more carefully about what exactly the initiative is from this article before jumping to conclusions that in fact do not reflect the purpose of the project– nowhere does it purport to be a “how to” guide nor will it claim to represent EVERY voice, which #40 seems to suggest.

    I think sex@yale can and will be a great thing and I am impressed that the administration is backing this unique and exciting project.

  • @41 faculty

    Please suggest your points to Dean Miller if you have access to her. I feel helpless and hopeless.

  • #41 again

    43: We all feel that way — she is simply not interested in undergraduate education.

  • sy09

    I think the ten or so years of Saybrugians who had her as their College Master would disagree with you on that point.

    But I would be interested in hearing more from your perspective — those are all problems; do you have suggestions for what to do?

  • saybrook997

    Dean Miller,

    I know your love of students as Saybrook’s Master, and as a, once or now, student, grad student, teacher, mother, friend, and scholar. You waited in your office to talk with me alone for almost an hour. You taught classes in etiquette for Saybrook students. You purchased Saybrook boxer shorts so your kids would look decent when they did football’s Saybrook strip, and wished to them that they would “not go all the way.”

    Now, you want to teach your Yale kids about sex through 70-80 true student stories out of 5,280 stories? 70-80 sex stories, well-written and self-selected by the Sex At Yale Initiative, and put on Yale’s Web site, your site? These letters and essays may belong on the YDN site as op-ed pieces. But on Yale’s site or on yours?

    Would you teach your own children about college sex by referring them to this Web site? Teaching sex at Yale through 70-80 true sex letters is like teaching a history course based on 70-80 letters selected from thousands, without criticism, perspective or a professor.
    Would you allow that in Yale’s curriculum or on your Web site? I doubt it. You would require more perspective, more testing, more. Leaving perspective and difficult judgments to freshmen, without teaching that too, makes for what Bloom called “an eros gone lame.”

    As a traditionalist, I know of nothing more traditional than sexuality, or talking about it. Drinking alcohol is also a human tradition, and a Yale tradition. But 70-80 drinking stories are easy work compared to 70-80 sex stories.

    Sex@Yale is normal. Body heat is normal. But like body heat, beyond a point, it becomes fever, unhealthy and unlearning. The Master Miller, I know, would, as both a scholar and a mother of about college age kids, say no to a project that offers more heat than light.

  • FailBoat

    Most Yalies aren’t mature enough to handle sex when they enter college and most aren’t mature enough when they leave.

    Why? Because the culture prevalent at Yale never makes them examine whether or not they should ever put limits on their behavior.

    Self-control is prudishness. Modesty is anti-intellectual. Values are theocratic. Shame is oppressive. Norms are shackles.

    It’s all very cliche and boring. Get over yourselves. No one wants to read your sex stories except the Yale Women’s Center which is DYING to somehow stay relevant since no one has held up a sign in front of their door for a while.

  • d.00

    Although I find this to be in poor taste and disgusting, the simple truth is that no one is making any of us read these essays. I won’t be reading them, but I’m sure there are those who are interested.

  • Alum

    As a male alum who thought about sex a lot while at Yale, but, like many, never actually had any in college, and who has a daughter who will be going to college in about 2 years, I find this very disconcerting to say the least. For the university to have such an official website shows a minset based on an oversexed (perhaps gay?) point of view, and will only increase the social pressure to have sex (or to worry about why they are not having it) on those who are simply not ready for it.

  • how do these comments keep getting dumber?

    Being honest about sex is only a problem if you are afraid of it. It’s my understanding that this program is about anything relating to sex, including a lack of it.

    Heaven forbid she come into contact with a “gay point of view.” What’s next? Being sympathetic to people of different races or religions?

    Let’s hope I don’t write for it or she might be exposed to a Jewish point of view too.

  • @#45

    I am sure Dean Miller is a very sympathetic person when a student has a problem. But she has made clear to the faculty that she has no interest in dealing with the problems in Yale College. As a colleague puts it, she does not care how bad science instruction is, she just wants to make sure that half of that bad instruction is done by women.

    What are my ideas? They are irrelevant. Unless the administration, which means her, want to tackle these issues, nothing any member of the faculty thinks will matter.

  • openminded

    Though sexuality is a topic that needs to be addressed, it is still a`delicate, private matter that doesn’t require all this public display. I might think twice about applying here next year

  • ’99

    Many commentators misstate the issue of concern to critics (and those increasingly disgusted by the Yale administration). The issue isn’t whether sex should be discussed; the issue is whether the Dean’s Office is the proper place to do it. Perhaps the Dean should focus on academic quality and offers and, as in the past, if the students find a need, perhaps they can start a student publication or the women’s center, which seems to have lobbied for this, can simply organize and host the site themselves.

  • Alum – @#50

    @#50 –

    Perhaps I didn’t express myself clearly, becuae you really misconstrued my comments. Also, it may be hard for you to understand what it’s like to have a young daughter.

    In any event, my point was that “lack of” sex is not necessarily a problem for all students, and an environment where sex is elevated to an obsessive level may be. My comment about a “gay” point of view was not intended to be hohmphobic or unsympathetic. I was merely observing that on average, in my experience (having had gay roommates in both college and law schooland a gay next door neighbor, all of whom I am still very friendly with decades later), gay people are even more preoccupied with sex that straight people. An unintended consequence of gay people becoming much more accepted (especially on a campus like Yale) – a good thing – is that it seems to have become the norm to talk publicly in great detail about sexuality and sex – maybe not a good thing for all students.

    And your comment about different races or religions is offbase – I happen to be Jewish myself, and my extended family includes Catholics, African Americans, and Latinos. Having grown up in NYC, when I arrived as a freshman the diversity of Yale felt almost like home.

    In any event, sex has always been on the minds of college students. But it doesn’t need to be on the front page of the YDN every day or on a university sanctioned website. Many students arriving at Yale have never lived away from home before and have enough to adjust to (not the least of which is the demading course work). Why create an environment where there they have to become instantaneous sexual adults as well, just to fit in?

  • Alum

    Sorry about the typos above – my typing skills are not the best.

  • Yale mom

    At a time when young people are over-saturated by a sex-obsessed popular culture, it’s no wonder most of them feel bewildered, inadequate or insecure. Woe to the young persons who choose not to engage in sexual activity as they are invariably viewed by their peers to be social pariahs and losers.
    Much like the on campus attitude about underage consumption of alcohol, it seems to be utterly inconceivable to even consider suggesting that abstinence of any kind is a viable and realistic option for any student. This does a serious disservice to all of our young people. Faculty and parents alike: start telling your students and children that it IS possible to wait until age 21 to consume alcohol AND to save sex for a monogamous relationship of long-term commitment. Individuals and society as a whole would profit immeasurably as a result.

  • @#54


    As many of us have been saying all along, the project is intended to present a WIDE RANGE of perspectives and voices. Not just a gay or oversexed point of view. (By the way, these two are not interchangeable. I know plenty of gay men who don’t care a lot about sex. And maybe you just think about their sex more than you think about the sex your straight neighbors and roommates were having. Confirmation bias, anyone?)

    It is my sincere hope for the project that the chaste, abstinent and uncomfortable voices are heard and represented just as well as the promiscuous, the nymphos and other sexual “deviants.” We’re trying to fight the culture that pressures students who aren’t ready for sex into random hook-ups. We want to let incoming students know that it is okay to not have sex if they don’t want to. I hope you take a look once the site has gone live and you can see the diversity of points of view for yourself.

  • Faculty Member again

    Dear Alum @49 and @54:

    I sympathize with your view (at least the part about your daughter, not so much the one about gay people, but we can ignore that!).

    As I read this YDN story and these comments, it seems to me that this site means to do many things, but one of them is to serve as a resource for people who are not yet and even do not want to be “sexual adults” — people perhaps like, in your view, your daughter.

    For one thing, it will give students models of older students who are NOT having sex–for whatever reason. That alone will be worth it — it will cut through the “everyone is doing it” BS. They are not, and new students should know that that it is absolutely OK, even common, to not be having sex at Yale.

    Second, there are some plain, if disconcerting, facts in the background here. Yale is no different from other colleges and universities in that sexual assaults (most often date or acquaintance rapes) happen. And, as at other universities, they are more common in the first weeks and months while first-year students are adjusting to Yale and to being away from home. (This may be less the case at Yale, but any amount is far too much.)

    The university does many things to stop sexual assaults and offers many resources in cases where they do happen. But it can and must continually strive to improve its efforts.

    One thing that this site can offer is, as many commentators above say, advice on “navigating Yale’s sexual culture.” Among MANY other things, I read that to include, to use your terms, advice from student to students on becoming a “sexual adult” when, how, and if one wants to.

    Or, more plainly, one thing this site seems likely to include is practical advice on avoiding date rape and other varieties of sexual assault. That is absolutely needed, and students are more likely to listen to other students than they are to yet another University-led “awareness campaign” (or, in many cases, to parents).

    I am a father, too. I suppose that’s part of why I am getting into this discussion — I think a lot about what it will be like for my daughter to go to college. I will only applaud anything my daughter’s future university (whatever it will be) does to give her tools to be or become a “sexual adult” at times and places of her own choosing — not someone else’s.

    In our culture, that’s more difficult than it should be, sadly and unjustly (and not just for women), but those are the facts we must face and respond to.

    Let me emphasize that I don’t understand the entire project to be about this one issue, but it’s an aspect that your comment touched on.
    Thank you for your engagement–more parents should be as engaged.

  • @#58

    Thanks for your reasoned analysis.

    – Alum / parent

  • ex-liberal

    I was a liberal until I attended Yale. I am embarrassed to say I went there.
    This scholl is a disgrace.

  • thinking ’69

    Some alums might not like the sexual culture materializing on our campus these days, but the sexual culture of yore seems pretty repulsive too.

  • @60

    Waaa.You didn’t go to Yale. you can’t even spell “school.” Go back to your tea party, Sarah.

  • privatize

    Sometimes the liberals are the less tolerant ones. Post these stories somewhere less public. Some cultures do not believe in such open discussion. Many religions would find it objectionable. I do not believe this should be an official stance. Let Kristin and Maddy host their own website, or Have the YDN host these essays. Putting it on the official Yale website is a little too far. I don’t think anyone should be arguing against these points. If you care about the core of this mission, comprise with all the angry people here. Make these stories very available but on a website that isnt officially representing all of us and our school forever.

  • Eric from Harvard

    I wish Harvard would consider encouraging students to write about sex;We certainly have enough of it.

  • Rudy ’73

    From #19 PC ’10 above:

    “…it is a space for serious and thoughtful discussion of sex: why we do it the way we do it and why we don’t if we don’t; how we’ve learned to figure out what we want, communicate that with others and have meaningful romantic or sexual experiences. The project is about breaking the taboo on serious talk about sex on campus. It is about inviting students to think critically about their own lives, not just about their textbooks.”

    Sounds really dull. I predict that after the first three rounds more editors will read the essays before they’re posted than students will afterwards. Certainly more people outside Yale who are horrified (and want to be horrified) about any public discussion of sex will read this than Yale students.

    Please, Dean, when this is implemented put the # of hits on the page.

  • John Florida

    Why doesn’t the Dean just start peeking into windows at night? If you want to know what other people are doing in the privacy of their homes that should help.

    Why not have a site from the Deans office helping students get an education instead of what you did in bed.

    Teach that’s what you were hired to do.

  • rc

    q. why not?
    a. (which does not seem to have occurred to anyone yet) — Ephesians 5:11-12, that’s why not.

    Perish the thought that we might actually turn to the authority of Scripture on this question. Raise your children to look there for the answer, and perhaps when some academic tells them what a great idea a project like this will be, they will laugh in his face. Sadly, the idea that other academics will stand up to this shameful nonsense from their peers is a bit less likely.