No sex, please; we’re students

Our resident sexpert delves into Exeter’s reluctance to get down and dirty.

academic Bondage Exeter Sex Sexeter students

Whoever dubbed our great University as ‘Sexeter’ clearly didn’t stay here for very long. Try as those students devoted to the ‘LAD Bible’ might, the fact remains that this centre of academic excellence is anything but sexy.

This is not to say that the students of Exeter do not engage in sexual activity; given that our campuses arguably play host to some of the most attractive and eligible lads and lasses in the country, that would simply be impossible.

Where Exeter falls down in the sex stakes, however, is in its treatment of sex in everyday life. But what is there to be gained by keeping what goes on ‘behind closed doors’, well, behind closed doors?

Before launching into what will doubtlessly be labelled as a promotion of promiscuity, I would like to say that I am not suggesting that every member of Exeter’s fifteen-thousand-strong student body begins recklessly engaging in mass orgies. What I am suggesting is that, contrary to what certain factions and organisations among staff and students alike believe, a commitment to Higher Education and a love of a good bonk do not have to be mutually exclusive.

While my previous writings on this subject gained an overwhelming amount of support, they also prompted droves of flustered emails condemning me as ‘obscene’ and ‘beyond appalling’ for daring to suggest that sex might be higher up an Exeter student’s agenda than academia. According to these drum-beating critics, my time at this world-renowned academic institution would be better spent brushing up on my Judith Butler than jacking off, and I would be well advised to indulge in Forster rather than fornication.

In some respects, of course, they were right. This is, after all, a University, not a brothel. But should this really mean that anyone who dares to air their dirty sexy lingerie in public faces the risk of persecution?

‘Fetish Societies’ are becoming increasingly common at other universities.

Many other British Universities are far more willing to accept that their students not only have sex (shock horror), but may wish to channel their experiences and inclinations in more public ways. The University of Birmingham, for example, has a dedicated Fetish Society. At the University of Exeter, a humorous article promoting the safe practice of BDSM was called to be removed from the Internet, and cost its author (yours truly) their job with the Student Recruitment Office.

Even at the University of Oxford, that bastion of elitism, risqué performances of shows such as Rent, which features an onstage orgy, and Bent, with its full-frontal nudity and graphic descriptions of gay sex, play to packed houses. Meanwhile, the University of Exeter provides us with the works of Harold Pinter and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

I am willing to accept that all these things have their place; both Thoroughly Modern Millie and EUTCo’s production of Pinter’s Celebration last year were fantastic. I will not accept, however, that anything ‘subversive’ that could potentially damage the University’s meticulously preserved reputation does not have an equal right to exist. Thankfully, a few gems do manage to slip through the net; last year’s production of Lysistrata, for example, refused to compromise the original text’s demand for nudity and phallic symbols. Bravo.

It is only right that the University wishes to preserve its reputation, but what happens when this reputation no longer reflects the true experiences of those who lie at its heart – its students?

Those who represent the University are strongly advised against discussing the Safer Sex Ball with prospective students and their parents. Not discuss the biggest event in the student calendar which promotes an awareness of safe sex and raises over £30,000 for charity each year? Am I missing something here?

Sex forms a huge part of many students’ development, and Exeter’s apparent determination to deny that fact to the outside world is ludicrous. Students and staff alike would be advised to listen to King Lear and ‘let copulation thrive’. He realised that this was the best course of action far too late, and look how he ended up.