Including student perspectives
Lifestyle expectations. This is one of the hallmark characteristics of Residence Life here at Seattle Pacific University.
Though it is a common and accepted aspect of students’ experiences on campus, I quickly became confused as to the intentions behind certain aspects of the rules SPU applies on campus.
Listening to my resident adviser list all the rules during one of the mandatory meetings, I was surprised about the ‘no sex off campus’ rule, thinking my RA had possibly made a mistake when she said it.
The SPU student standards of conduct states that forbidden activities include: “Cohabitation and related forms of premarital, extramarital, or homosexual sexual activities. Cohabitation means unmarried students in an amorous relationship living together.”
As the daughter of a teenage mom, I know the dangerous effects of telling students they can’t have sexual relations.
When my mom was seventeen, her mother refused to buy her protection and told her she was not allowed to have sex.
She continued to have sex, regardless of the warnings. Her lack of education about safe sex and my grandmother’s rules contributed to my mother becoming a teen mom.
The fact that SPU does not want students to have sex on campus makes sense, because they want the property of the school to be respected; they have to uphold their rules and values as a Christian university.
But telling a student they cannot have sex if they are not married is compromising students’ right to exercise their free will.
Having sex isn’t something people should be punished for. Not everyone believes in waiting until marriage.
Even though SPU is a private Christian university, it still has an obligation to allow students to practice free choice.
The university promotes how they don’t push Christianity on the student body, and how they embrace people from all cultures, backgrounds, and religions.
But by attempting to control students’ behavior in this way, SPU pushes the moral code of Christianity onto its student body.
It is frustrating for students, because we are all adults and even though not every student wants to have sex, we still want to be free to exercise our right to decide without being punished.
Deciding to have sex is something someone should do on their own terms. A person’s body is their own, and theirs alone. What they want to do with it is up to them.
A university should not exercise authority to tell students what they can and cannot do with their body. What a person decides to do with their partner is their business, married or not.
SPU should be promoting safe sex instead of a doctrine of abstinence because if someone wants to have sex, they will, and should be able to do so. SPU cannot realistically observe what students do off campus.
Therefore, there is no point in having this rule when there is no practical way to enforce it.
There is also a significant problem with students not knowing the consequences of getting caught having sex.
The code of conduct only states that disciplinary action will take place.
There is a negative impact stemming from this ambiguity on female students who are not married and do get pregnant. It results in their feeling like they need to choose between having a baby or risk getting disciplined for having premarital intercourse and potentially not be able to go to school for her education.
Health services should be a safe place students can go to if they’re concerned about their body after having sex. Even if students want to have sex in the future, and are wondering what safety precautions are necessary, health services should be a resource rather than a barrier.
That is why SPU should get rid of the no sex off campus rule. Students should know that if something bad does happen, they’ll still have a university that will welcome them with open arms.
Students have the right to be comfortable going to health services with any problem, and not having to worry about being punished for having sex.
The safety of students should be put above the religious conducts that the university feels students need to follow.
SPU needs to respect that their students have different morals that they follow and students have different beliefs on sex.