My name is Jane Park, and I’m in first year in Pierson College. Like “The P in Pierson College stands for Pierson College, the I in Pierson…” No? Okay.
During the first week of fall semester, whenever I introduced myself I was greeted with “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that!” In a way, they had a point. Being a first-year Piersonite means that I live in the beautiful Lanman Wright Hall, more formally known as L-Dub. Fortunately, on Saturday nights L-Dub provides us the experience of listening to the majestic sounds of motorcycle gangs and shrieking freshmen who are drunk off their rockers.
And most of all, how could I forget the spacious measurements of our rooms? The living quarters are “cozy” if we’re being nice, and a glorified shoebox if we’re being pretty truthful. With all of these yummy “dubs,” the reasons why first-year Piersonnites receive these introduction apologies are abundant.
But I’m not here to complain about the shittiness about L-Dub. It builds humility and character and whatever. I’m here to complain about a fundamental characteristic of L-Dub, and other freshman dorm facilities: the bunk beds.
Bunk beds suck ass. If your roommate said that they “didn’t care” about whether they got top or bottom bunk is a liar. No one wants top bunk. For obvious reasons, bunk beds present a challenge to first-years who are already grappling to live away from home, build new social connections and adjust to an unfamiliar environment. Most of all, they raise an obstacle for first years who have yet to learn how to live in shared spaces.
Let’s get to the title of the article. That’s why you’re reading, aren’t you? Hook-up culture is extremely-prevalent for first-years. To the point in which Pierson College Dean Hawthorne even brought up the existence of “situationships” during the first year fireside chat. College first years are bound to explore their sexual desires — the social anxiety stemming from the first few weeks and the liberal circulation of alcohol already complicate our sexual projects.
Yet, the Communication and Consent Educators do their best to prepare freshmen on navigating sexual entities on campus. Most of you readers probably remember your CCE orientation meeting. For the most part, the CCE discussion helps deliver the most basic terminologies to start up the conversation on safe, positive and pleasurable sex.
The goals of this training session are ultimately unmet, however, if the physical infrastructure of first-year dorms prevent the realization of our campus’ goals for safe, positive, pleasurable sex.
How the fuck are we supposed to feel comfortable fucking when our roommate’s bed is just a couple of feet above us? Conversely, for the poor soul who sleeps in the top bunk, how can top bunk sex be viable when our heads nearly scrape the ceiling? Please tell me, Yale.
Because between me and my three other suitemates, we’ve been having painfully awkward conversations trying to figure this out. Here are some of the highlights both my friends and I have heard in conversations: “So you’re not okay with me having sex when you’re asleep? Like, would you want me to wake you up before?” “The common room couch is for the person who’s sexiled… not for the person having sex.” “Can’t you just have sex anywhere from like 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.?”
Yes, the conversation about living in shared spaces is important. Communicating our physical wants and needs to those close to us is a valuable skill. But negotiating how I can avoid waking up to my roommate having sex beneath me is a conversation that realistically, I will never have after this year.
For many first-years, this conversation doesn’t even happen. Mostly because individuals do not realize the importance of having one until they stumble — or awaken — to an uncomfortable situation. Or, because they simply do not know how to have this conversation in the first place.
Bunk beds have existed probably… for a thousand years. I’m not entirely sure. Hundreds of first years before us have probably learned to “take the L” so that their individuals can have a little “alone time” with their partner. Yet, it feels abnormal how this conversation to accommodate is one held at the individual level. Why is it the burden of students to seek out physical spaces when the duty to create safe spaces for intimate practices is one that belongs to this institution?
Yes, I’m a first year complaining about how difficult it is to have sex on bunk beds. But it simply doesn’t make sense for Yale to promote a positive sex culture when the physical infrastructure of dorm rooms, meant to be a safe, personal space for students, is preventing safe and comfortable sex.