These are the new rules of getting with people at uni, pandemic edition

I got new rules I count ’em


Looking at how corona affects our rules and perceptions on sex involves just as many u-turns as the current government in the past six months. Every student has adopted a sacred set of values to help them determine who they should and shouldn’t be having sex with to maximise their enjoyable uni experience, but these rules have been thrown up in the air and who knows when or if they’re coming back down.

We know the old rules so well we could recite them in our sleep: Don’t shit where you eat, don’t shark, don’t get sharked, make sure to sleep around a bit, and don’t get into anything serious too soon. However, all of these things might become the norm as the incoming freshers find out that these tactics may be the only way they can get laid. After all, the biggest cockblocker of all is here and it’s looking like she’s here to stay: Miss Rona.

Covid has changed the very fabric of our get-with culture. And now we’re going back to uni it will change our beloved one night stands, kissing strangers at parties, not sleeping with people you live with – it threatens all that we hold dear. Saying you have Covid symptoms to a potential mate (mate like bonk partner not mate like friend) is worse than saying you might have chlamydia, because at least chlamydia can’t kill you. (Right?)

Uni hook up culture is about to be turned on its head so, from me to you, here are the new rules of pulling in the pandemic.

1. Shit where you eat

For those of you unfamiliar with the original term “don’t shit where you eat”, this refers to all the people you share lots in common with that you shouldn’t be banging: flatmates, coursemates, etc. Precorona this was fairly manageable, you go to a club and find a stranger to hook up with or you get on Tinder and you invite someone over for the classic Netflix and chill. Now, those are literally illegal or banned at your uni.

The big issue for anyone going back into halls is that most universities have banned overnight visitors, or people coming into your halls altogether. The only ones who seem to be lucky enough to get planned shags are Cambridge students, because the uni has been slightly more sympathetic to their students and stated that they make an application to have a visitor in advance. But this is not exactly conducive to a spontaneous one-night stand.

You know what this means. Sleeping with one of your flatmates is likely to become a particularly attractive prospect because they are the only people you can sleep with without facing either a massive fine or eviction for breaking the rules of your halls of residence. And… they’re nearby. Like very literally close in proximity.

In certain universities sleeping with your flatmate will even mean you’ve done a double whammy of shitting where you eat because you’re being put into housing bubbles with your coursemates! (Wooo can’t wait for there to be some tense flat dynamics after you literally cannot escape the person you’re sleeping with!) At least this is the lowest risk person to sleep with in terms of catching corona, so go off, I guess.

2. Sharking has gone from a no to a yes, sadly

In first year you get warned against the ills of being sharked and how it leads to nothing but chaos and mockery. The warnings make sense: horny football/rugby boys want another conquest to tick off their agenda (sleeping with a fresher) and it’s really gross. Guaranteed it happens after the first sports night of the year and then you end up bumping into this person every week at sports night until they finally graduate, grim.

Although, being sharked now has a new appeal – having a space where you can have sex without living in fear of being caught by an SRA or warden and all the penalties that comes with that. Sharks, who are not freshers, live in uni houses and flats off-campus and their biggest concerns are pissing off their flatmates/neighbours. This means that if you really don’t want to get involved in the dangerous cycle of shitting where you eat, sharking might be the way forward.

Shark hats

Who doesn’t love a shark?

3. Get into something serious

Particularly in your first year, you will be told not to get into anything serious, and the way you are most likely to enjoy uni is to experiment and find yourself. Those people who got into relationships during freshers week were always thought to be absolutely crazy but this year there might actually be some method to the madness.

I know it might sound outrageous, but there are a lot of benefits (especially in a pandemic) to only sleeping with one person in a serious capacity. First and foremost you reduce your chances of contracting corona, or any other STI for that matter if you’re only sleeping with one another. You also build up a trust dynamic where you can work out how seriously/not seriously you want to take social distancing precaution s- do you both need to mouthwash before you kiss? (There’s absolutely no proof that this minimises coronavirus, btw, I just said it for fun.)

The other added benefit is if you get into something serious and we get thrown into another full-scale lockdown, there’s a potential that you and your new uni boo can either stay together or lockdown together, fulfilling all your emotional and sexual needs. Surely it’s a win-win?

4. DON’T dump your high school sweetheart

Everyone is advised to come to uni single because you’re going to want to play the field and you’ll be going out and clubbing and someone will just end up heartbroken. This all makes wonderful sense, however, staying with your high school sweetheart does mean that at least when you return home you can continue some kind of sexual relationship (provided your parents let you have sex in the house).

Staying with your high school sweetheart also has the added advantage of you already have a stable relationship with the person and you’ve already done 7 months of pandemic lifestyle together. It’s like living through a war. You’re bonded by blood and national lockdowns now. So maybe this year staying together isn’t all that bad?

5. DO shag someone in your lectures

Pre-covid this would be a nightmare. Having to make small talk with the person you sit next to in your lectures during however-many-contact-hours a week for an entire term that you’ve also seen naked, absolutely not!

But now, who cares? They’re all online anyway! Especially if its mics and cameras off there will be no awkward encounters if you do actually sleep with them!

However, if your uni is keeping seminars face-to-face this might be one of three precious hours you have on-campus a week. So do you really want to taint this sacred experience with awkward eye contact with your one night stand for the next term? For this reason we advise the new rule to be: shag people in your lectures, avoid people in your seminars.

Maybe it will be less awkward with social distancing?

6. DO tell your flatmates who you’re shagging

From a moral standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping with as many people as you want. However, when we do a pandemic reality check the optics are not so great. Regardless of whether you’re using protection or not, that’s not going to 100 per cent prevent the spread of Covid, and wearing a mask during sex is just fucking weird.

So if you are planning to sleep around its probably best to keep to actually speak to your flatmates about it first and see if they’re all comfortable with it. A current uni student told The Tab: “‘It either has to be all of you or none of you. If it’s like 1/6 people doing it in the flat, and the other five have been adhering to the rules and making sacrifices that potentially ruin their freshers in order to respect each other, then yeah, I reckon you’d be pissed.”

Obviously this goes against all the classic uni rules of sneaking someone home and sneaking them out in the morning without telling your flatmates, despite them having all heard some very spirited noises and heavy thumping coming from your room all night. But, Covid’s here to stay and needs must.

7. DON’T get with as many people as you can in one night

I mean honestly, this one is just gross without the added complication of coronavirus, but something that is so frequently championed by sports teams. Why? I’ll never know.

However, just as sleeping around can be unfair on the people you live with, getting with a bunch of strangers just for the sake of seeing how many you can get with has just as many consequences.

It’s time to say farewell to all the saucy drinking games that end in pulling, no more Indian Poker, spin the bottle (not that I think many students actually play this anymore) or sexy dice. The new rules of uni sex are here kids, and I’m already missing the good old days.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘It’s not gonna help’: Meet the people refusing to wear masks when they return to uni

Plan a night out look and we’ll tell you where you should have gone to uni

I asked eight of my dating app matches why they ghost women. Here’s what they had to say