As a member of the Princeton University community, I am concerned about the dominance of the
hook-up culture on campus — a culture that presents casual sex and uncommitted relationships as not only normal, but expected behavior for students. I find it troubling that those who do not adhere to — and particularly those who publicly question — the tenets or practices of this culture face intellectual and social barriers to full acceptance into the campus community. Students at Princeton who wish to remain abstinent not only face immense social pressure to conform to the hook-up culture, but many also find themselves stigmatized, marginalized, and alienated when they do not. Whether inside or outside of the classroom, whether in conversation or in a campus publication, abstinent students who express their views on sexuality are all too often ridiculed, berated, and criticized for their beliefs.
While the University claims to hold to the values of equality, neutrality, and acceptance, its actions in fact reinforce and bolster the cultural marginalization of abstinent students. The administration’s policies foster a deep double standard when it comes to sexuality. That is, the University, through programs, policies, and, most importantly, official centers, gives recognition to certain social and intellectual conceptions of sexual culture and support to those students who subscribe to those opinions and lifestyles. In instituting the Women’s and LGBT Centers, the University has correctly identified sex and sexuality as areas of particular concern for college students which require particular attention from the administration. Despite this commendable attempt to fulfill the needs of the campus community in this realm, it remains an injustice that young men and women with chaste views on sexuality do not have institutional support to aid them in their navigation of the often troubled waters of college sexual culture.
To remedy this problem, I believe that Princeton should establish a center for abstinent students, which would provide institutional approval and concrete support to students who follow a chaste and abstinent lifestyle. By establishing such a center, the University would send the message that this lifestyle is just as worthy as any other. The institutional approval that comes from having a center would help tremendously in making abstinent students more accepted at Princeton and in leveling the intellectual playing field. On a more concrete level, the center would provide abstinent students of all kinds with support through events, literature, counseling, and other forms of encouragement, which are not available from existing university institutions.
As the University holds great sway over the campus culture, only institutional approval and support of this sort will help to bring balance to the dialogue and discourse on campus regarding sexuality. Only the establishment of an abstinence center will help to fight the appalling marginalization of and discrimination against abstinent students on campus.
This letter can also be read in pdf format: Letter for Support for the Center.