You can’t legislate good manners, consideration or discretion, but the futile attempts never end.
Among the latest is a directive to students in residence at Tufts University in Michigan: “You may not engage in sexual activity while your roommate is present in the room.
Any sexual activity within your assigned room should not ever deprive your roommate(s) of privacy, study, or sleep time.”
Granted, subjecting your roommate to such sights and sounds is the height of bad form, but is it really necessary to alert the authorities? How about a little effort to be quiet on this side of the room, an indulgent blind eye on that side?
The new policy replaces sensible solutions like “sexile,” in which one asks one’s roommate to amscray in order that boot-knocking may proceed in peace, or the time-honoured “Do Not Disturb” tie on the doorknob.
That is what civilized roommates do for one another. They learn to live together and it can be part of their education. Or you can make more rules and push students around, as Tufts has decided in its transformation into Nanny State U.
This regulation discriminates against the lucky and gives one’s roommate an unconscionable degree of control over one’s sex life. It’s unenforceable, absurd, and, as one commentator on the New York Times website asked, “What if you want to have sex with your roommate?”
What if the coast is clear, and you begin your lawfully constituted activities, only to have Buzzkillus interruptus come home mid-shag. Are you required to stop or is the roomie obligated to leave?
More worrying perhaps is the university’s warning: “If residents fail to comply with the above stated policy and expectations, their actions will be properly documented and subject to residential judicial consequences.”
How does one “properly document” such actions? Will a simple written description of observed activities suffice, or should the roommate get photographic or video evidence? And who’s the pervert now?
Why the university felt it necessary to single out sex also puzzles. Will further rules be drafted to make sure students are eating balanced meals, doing their homework and calling their moms weekly? They are after all, adults, and should be left to do their adult thing, as often as the opportunity arises.
Tufts claims the new rules were brought in after a “significant number” of complaints about randy roommates. How many? About 12, it turns out. Tufts has about 8,500 students, and the dirty dozen have now brought collective punishment on them all.
Can’t we all just get along and laid?
Correction – October 6, 2009, 9:36 am EST: A previous
version of this story contained incorrect information. Tufts University is located in Masssachusetts, not Michigan. Metro regrets the error.