Throughout the history of collegiate on-campus residences, most colleges and universities have tiptoed around a particularly touchy subject that has lately received its own name and has only recently been openly discussed. That subject is “sexiling.”
The act of sexiling (making one’s roommate leave their dorm room for a certain amount of time in order to become sexually intimate with a significant other) is one of the oldest collegiate traditions for on-campus students. Many colleges and universities are beginning to look into this situation for the first time, due mostly to Tufts University’s new residence life rule that was enacted this semester. Tufts now states in its student life handbook that students “may not engage in sexual activity while your roommate is present in the room.”
“I support Tufts’ attempt to make the expectation of refraining from engaging in sexual activity when a roommate is present as clear as possible,” said Joanne Goldwater, Director of Residence Life. “However, I’m not sure how realistic it is to enforce.” She said that she had been a victim of sexiling her sophomore year of college.
The question, however, is whether sexiling is a big problem on our own campus. “Certainly,” said Laura Bayless, Dean of Students. “It does happen each semester. It’s not a new thing.” After polling 100 St. Mary’s students, 61 replied that they had already been affected, either by being sexiled or by being the roommate that had done the sexiling.
“Of course, we know it is happening on campus,” said Goldwater. “We see the students sleeping in the rec. rooms, we hear whispering/gossip, we hear third-hand about the issues, and we were all college students, too!”
Junior Joyce Miranda, who lived in a quad her sophomore year, recalled a time when she left her room to go brush her teeth only to be locked out of her room when she returned a couple minutes later. Even other students living just across the hall from a sexiled resident can become affected. Sophomore Leah Klump once gave refuge to a friend at three in the morning after the girl had been kicked out of her own room.
On the other hand, Tyne Lowe, a Caroline Resident Assistant in her junior year, has noticed that “it’s usually not a case of a note on the door saying, ‘we’re sexing.’” For most of her affected residents, it’s been a problem of the significant other of roommate number one being in the room so much during the day that roommate number two can’t concentrate on work. The biggest issue, therefore, seems to be the communication between roommates.
Page 45 of the College’s To The Point Handbook, given to all students, states, “Because some students prefer a restricted visitation policy and others desire a greater degree of choice in entertaining guests in their rooms, roommates must determine their own limitations.” If a problem arises, members of the Residence Life staff have said that the best thing to do is to talk to the other roommate or ask an RA or RHC to help mediate the situation.
Dean Bayless likes to refer to St. Mary’s College as a “community built on respect” and said that if students are sexiling their roommates all of the time, they are going against that philosophy. “Each person has equal access [to the room],” said Bayless. “Sleep first, study second, socialize third. Everybody’s room is supposed to be their room.”