November 7, 2006

Guidelines for getting down and dirty

If you’re inclined to believe the wisdom of T-shirts ranking the sex appeal of squirrels before that of U of C students, it’s easy to assume that sex at this school means grabbing a box of tissues and fantasizing about anime. However, often to the discomfort of onlookers, sex does occur at the U of C, and sometimes it’s made all too apparent visually.

According to many students, public displays of affection, or PDA, usually aren’t too excessive—until students uncork the social lubricants and things get ugly, literally.

Third-year Tim Froh said PDA occurs between students “[depending on] how much alcohol they’ve consumed.” He said he mostly sees it “outside of frat parties.”

“The worst is on the dance floor,” said first-year Sarah Grusin. “[There are] just a lot of couples dancing too intimately, too close to one another.”

“I’m tentative to actually call it ‘affection’,” Froh said. “It’s ugly people feeling each other up that grosses me out, but I don’t think I’m alone on this one.”

Grusin echoed Froh. “I’m not gonna lie, there are some ugly couples,” she said. “It’s no better when cute couples do it, but there’s probably a stronger initial gut reaction when the couple is ugly.”

First-year Alex Meyer said frat parties aren’t the only place where PDA occurs.

“One time, I was in Hallowed Grounds, and I saw two people really going at it. It was kind of surprising,” Meyer said. “I’m sure it was something in the coffee, or the cookies.”

“There are plenty of places to go,” Meyer added. “You don’t have to do it in Hallowed Grounds.”

So, where does one draw the line between harmless affection and indecent behavior?

First-year Zoe Thompson said discretion is the key. “Hand-holding, hugging, back rubs, G-rated snuggling, closed-mouth kissing…” are acceptable behaviors, “provided clothes stay on, tongues stay in their respective mouths, and no obvious grinding [takes] place.”

Others agreed with this distinction. “There’s a fine line between showing affection and being overtly obscene,” said fourth-year Alex Munoz. “I am very affectionate with my boyfriend around campus. We hold hands as we walk together on campus, we kiss each other good-bye, etc. We don’t make out or touch each other inappropriately, but we do show love and affection for each other.”

First-year James Huff urged amorous couples to show mercy for innocent bystanders. “PDA, within proper limits, can show how you feel about your significant other,” he said. “But you should also demonstrate awareness of the people around you and their gross-out factor.”

Froh suggested that PDA is more acceptable when couples demonstrate the proper technique. “I wouldn’t mind people making out in public if they actually knew how to kiss each other gently, affectionately, and tenderly,” he said.

Grusin had a different definition for public indecency, with intimacy—and not groping—striking her as off limits. She said she especially notices PDA outside of Cobb.

“I hate when people say ‘I love you’ like 10 times,” she said.

Nevertheless, limited PDA pulls some people’s heartstrings rather than prompting their gag reflexes.

“Our school is notorious for being unattractive, and I think it’s cute when two people find each other at a place like the U of C,” Munoz said. “It’s cuter if the couple is not necessarily that attractive, because it always proves to me that love finds all types of people.”

Thompson, the first-year who outlined rules for public decency, objected to the notion that the U of C is a hotbed for unattractive pairings.

“That’s a myth we tell people so that only the truly dedicated will come here,” she said. “I think the majority of the people here are very attractive. Our student body is by no means repulsive—Hell, we’re hot!”