Saturday, February 27, 2010

Juliana Hanle: Yale University Dean’s Office Web site to host essays about sex

Dean’s Office Web site to host essays about sex
By Juliana Hanle
Yale Daily News

Even the Yale College Dean’s Office is interested in Yale’s sex scene.

With the overhaul of its Web site this coming summer, the Dean’s Office will post a new student-generated essay collection under the title “sex@yale.” The site will include 500- to 1,000-word essays by current undergraduates, allowing them to reflect anonymously on their sexual experiences at Yale and their impressions of the sexual culture here.

The Web site will not be password protected, so anyone can read it, said Melanie Boyd, director of undergraduate studies in Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies and the new special advisor to the dean of Yale College on gender issues.

Laura Gottesdiener ’10, co-chair of the project’s editorial board, said she appreciates Yale’s progressiveness in supporting the initiative.

“The Dean’s Office wants it to be from the students, for the students and by the students,” she said.

The idea grew out of a meeting in October between Women’s Center board members and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou. In the wake of the “Pre-season Scouting Report” scandal this past fall, in which unidentified students circulated an e-mail ranking the attractiveness of incoming female freshmen, administrators decided to consider ways to contribute positively to the sexual culture on campus, Boyd said.

Boyd said she wondered why Yale was no longer distributing pamphlets and holding lectures on sexuality, as it had done when the College first admitted women in 1969. In response, the Women’s Center and the Dean’s Office decided to create an online forum where students could understand the range of sexual experiences on campus.

“There’s a real need for students to have space to think about what happens to them and what they want to have happen,” Boyd said.

The Women’s Center intentionally ceded the project to Boyd’s jurisdiction because members of the center thought the project would gain a wider variety of participants if it distinguished itself from the Women’s Center, said Alice Buttrick ’10 and Rachel Achs ’10, the center’s former and current public relations coordinators, respectively.

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