Thursday nights for Greg Lorence (AS, B3) are like most others. After coming home from work, he sits down on his worn, black futon, turns on the PlayStation 3 console and picks up the controler to start playing “Call of Duty.” Tonight, his roommate was out at a campus bar, but Lorence paid no attention, as it was a frequent occurrence. Suddenly, he hears the doorknob fiddling – a drunken roommate, he suspects. Lorence’s roommate burst through the door, intoxicated with not only alcohol, but the idea of what was in store for him – time alone with a woman.
Having spent the day in business and politics courses, followed by work at the Merle Hay Target, the idea of abandoning his video games for the dull-witted whims of his roommate was not Lorence’s preference. Still, the roommate insisted with desperate pleas that Lorence should leave the room.
“Dude, can you leave for like two hours, because I have a girl and it looks like I’m about to score?” his roommate said. “Dude, come on, please. I’ll give you anything.”
Lorence wanted something in return for his efforts. So, his roommate, in his inebriated state, offered him $100. Lorence gladly accepted the money and went two doors down to hang out with friends.
What happened to Lorence is commonly known as “sexiling,” or kicking a roommate out for sexual purposes – an act that is not all that uncommon at universities. However, colleges have yet to ban this act until just recently when Tufts University in Massachusetts banned this behavior.
“The Tufts Daily” reported on Sept. 24, “The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) has added a new stipulation to its guest policy that prohibits any sex act in a dorm room while one’s roommate is present. The stipulation further states that any sexual activity in the room should not interfere with a roommate’s privacy, study habits or sleep.”
This policy, in effect, bans “sexiling.”
According to the university’s new policy, “If residents fail to comply with the above stated policy and expectations, their actions will be properly documented and subject to residential judicial consequences. Any flagrant violation of the above policies will result in immediate loss of guest privileges for a specified time period at the discretion of the Assistant Director for Community and Judicial Affairs in the Office of Residential Life and Learning.”
This policy has not swept the nation’s schools just yet, and Drake officials said they would not be changing their residence hall policy any time soon.
In fact, nowhere in Drake’s Residence Hall policies does it outline concerns about sexual activity that disrupts another roommate, only that residents should show a general respect toward one another. Lorissa Lieurance, interim director of the Office of Residence Life, said that a solution to the issue of “sexiling” should be solved between roommates and not through university policies.
“Residents are encouraged to communicate with one another about their expectations,” she said. “In my experience, individuals who talk with their roommate about their own pet peeves and ask their roommates about what their pet peeves are can usually identify areas of concern and develop a roommate agreement prior to any offensive events occurring.”
When roommates cannot solve their own issues, residence hall staff members are there to help, Lieurance said.
“In the event that activity in the room interferes with a roommate’s privacy, study habits or ability to sleep and the concern cannot be resolved with their roommate, individuals can contact their residence hall coordinator or the Office of Residence Life for assistance in resolving the concern,” she said.
Lieurance also said that resident assistants are extremely helpful when it comes to these issues. Mediating communication between residents is a key skill taught to all resident assistants.
“We currently train our RA staff in the areas of conflict and roommate mediation,” she said. “This training equips the resident assistants to assess, discuss and mediate a breadth of roommate issues, including such difficult topics of sexual behavior.”
What comes with a Tufts-like policy, Lieurance said, are a lot of issues that Residence Life would have to look into – ultimately becoming a policy too difficult to enforce.
“If Drake were to adopt the language of Tufts’ guest policy into our own residence hall handbook, Drake University would need to examine the criteria for determining if the alleged offense either did or did not occur, as well as establish what the consequences would be if someone were found responsible for violating the policy,” she said.
However, there are aspects to Tufts’ policy that Lieurance does like.
“I agree with Tufts’ policy, in that I would be concerned about any activity in the room that would interfere with a roommate’s privacy, study habits or ability to sleep,” she said.
Many students have said that Drake should not adopt a Tufts-like policy, explaining that it would be too difficult to enforce. Katie Richardson (P1) agrees with these sentiments.
“If they were to have RAs enforce it, I don’t think it’s their responsibility,” she said. “I don’t think people would follow it anyway.”
Rachel Kauffold (B, J3) said this policy should not go into place simply because students have the right to figure these situations out for themselves.
“A person’s room is their home, and either person should be allowed to do what they want in there,” she said. “But they should also respect their roommate. So, either way – if you banned it or accepted it – somebody would lose because someone wouldn’t get to do what they wanted in their room.”
Kauffold also said that she doesn’t see this policy sweeping the nation.
Sam Friedman (AS1), who was “sexiled” earlier this year, agreed that Drake should not adopt a Tufts-like policy.
“We’re young kids; it’s going to happen,” he said. “Where would we go? I feel like people would do drastic things because of that policy. No, I definitely wouldn’t want that.”
In fact, Friedman doesn’t even think “sexiling” is an issue on campus.
“If you have a cool roommate, you could say, ‘Listen, I’m doing this, could you leave?’” he said. “Most people would be like, ‘Yea, sure.’ I don’t have a problem with it. Yea, it’s a minor inconvenience, but I’m friends with my roommate, and I’m OK with it.”
As for Lorence, he gladly took that $100 he was offered to leave the room. To him, that was a good solution to the issue of “sexiling.”
“In the roommate situation, it’s ultimately up to the second roommate – the one who is potentially being ‘sexiled’ – to sort that out and say, ‘I’m not leaving,’” he said. “If that’s the case, it leaves the person without an option.”
Tufts University Policy
“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.”
– Tufts University Residential Policies and Procedures, 2009