The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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College sexperts open eyes, spark campus discussion

Student sex columns arouse community fears

Watch out! Sex is no longer a subject that is whispered and giggled about. Those days of holding hands in a parked car on some distant bluff are long gone. Not only can it be read about in magazines like Maxim or Men’s Health, but also it can be watched on the hit television series “Sex and the City.” And if that’s not quite enough, any student can learn about it through the new evolutionary psychology class, which focuses a semester’s worth of material around sexuality.

The subject of sex has even managed to penetrate the pages of college newspapers with student journalists taking on the role of sexperts. Such columnists have one mission: to openly discuss sex and other sexual issues while offering advice in a free and open setting – the daily paper.

This growing trend is not only occurring locally in the “Ask Nell” section of The Daily Campus. It also spans nationwide from the University of California-Berkley to the University of Kansas to Yale University. These columnists provide a variety of formats, anywhere from question and answer, advice or just columns about other common sexual issues that any collegiate could quandary about.

Although it seems like the idea of the column is simple enough, many papers and schools have waited years, or are still waiting, to institute such a column for fear of losing readers or subscribers.

Meghan Bainum, a senior journalism major at the University of Kansas, recalls having problems getting the permission to start the column in the first place.

“I had to do a lot of convincing to my editors to prove that there was an interest and that my writing was good enough,” Bainum said.

Since the column has come out, Bainum and the Daily Kansan have been put under public scrutiny. After one particular article about anal sex, Bainum not only received threats from donors wanting to stop their contributions to the paper, but the paper also stopped distributing to local high schools on Thursdays when the column is published.

This has not bothered Bainum.

“As long as people are commenting, it means they are reading,” Bainum said.

But besides the criticisms, Bainum’s goals are to simply try and make an impact on her school.

“I like getting the word out,” Bainum said. “I think that people have so many problems with sex because it’s not being talked about. Since the article has come out, people have started looking for it, and it has started to create discussion.”

Bainum is not alone in her quests to change the stereotypical columnist. Paul Thorton, a junior philosophy major at the University of California-Berkeley, says sex columns “provide a medium for discussion on human sexuality that happens to be very entertaining.”

Contrary to the Daily Kansan, Thorton has not had any problems with the administration or student life, just a few comments from people locally.

“Instead,” Thorton said, “there are more praise and questions.”

SMU’s Nell was unavailable for questions as she is currently abroad. The Daily Campus editors were unsure of most problems or uncertainties expressed by faculty and student life, and the column is still leaving its impression on campus life.

Lauren Roberson, a junior corporate communications and public affairs major, expressed her interests in Nell’s articles.

“I like to read them because they’re interesting,” she said, “but most often I really can’t use her advice.”

But just as Bainum and Thorton pointed out, as long as people are commenting, they are reading, and that will continue to open dialogue on an extremely touchy and controversial topic.

Both of these columnists still believe that their columns will continue even after they are gone simply because they will always have a place or reason to be discussed.

Robert W. Quach, a junior finance and photography major, enjoys reading Nell’s column “because she gives her perspective on sex and dating and twists them to make them more entertaining and fun to read. She’s like the modern day version of Dr. Ruth.”

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