According to the Student Handbook, “Sexual intimacy – including undress – is not permitted for students at Deerfield.” The online Deerfield Rules and Expectations states that if caught engaging in sexual intimacy, students could face a number of consequences, including required counseling, Letters of Reprimand, and more.
However, students are undoubtedly sexually active on campus, and the administration has acknowledged this. Thus, the rule seems to have a confusing purpose. By officially denying students the ability to have sexual relations, the school contributes to an uncomfortable environment for those who choose to have sexual contact in secret.
The Scroll Board acknowledges that the administration must walk a fine line between catering to the student body and the parents of students who might not want the school to explicitly allow sexual activity. We understand that the school, which is functioning in loco parentis, must straddle many different lines, as there is a vast difference between the rules various parents would feel comfortable with in their own homes.
Yet prohibiting intimacy does not stop students from participating in sexual activities. Some students might be less likely to seek out proper birth control and protection due to the spontaneous nature of the hookup culture we consider prevalent on campus. Others might be pressured into doing things that they are not entirely comfortable with because they are cornered into isolated places on campus with only their sexual partners around.
We believe that the administration aims to prioritize student safety above all else. If it truly wants to ensure students’ utmost safety in sexual relationships, it must more actively encourage healthy sexual intimacy by allowing us to operate within the welcome sanction of school rules.
The first step the school should take is to change the aforementioned rule prohibiting intimacy to allow for the fact that students will be having sexual contact on campus regardless. We would also like the Health Center and the administration to more discreetly offer us condoms. For example, the school could place condoms in bathrooms and dormitories.
We thank the Health Center and the administration for providing access to $10/month birth control pills upon request and for offering discreet STI testing. Yet, many students are unaware of these options; perhaps open discussion outside of Health class about the resources at the Health Center could further normalize them.
To increase sexual safety and education, the Scroll Board also calls on the administration to require dorm residents to make an emergency plan for students when checking in for parietals. This kind of system should extend to every dorm on campus.
The administration should also clarify teachers’ roles during parietals. We find that teachers often use their own discretion in deciding the extent of their involvement. This disparity, along with the unnecessary complications that currently accompany sexual intimacy on campus, can be solved with further clarification from the administration.
We all have different roles in making our campus even safer and healthier, and we hope that we as students can work with the administration together to clarify rules and expectations in a way that enhances this goal.