The better the university, the better the sex?

Better grades, better university, better facilities, better variety of people … but better sex?


In a video released by The Huffington Post on Feb. 18, two student journalists and sex columnists, one from Cornell University and the other from Brown University, debated why they believe students at high-caliber universities have better sex than those who don’t attend such universities.


Of course, there is no actual scientific evidence or study to prove or disprove this statement, but Purdue’s sexual health education coordinator, Chico Jensen, found it to be a discussion-worthy topic. He has taught and given keynote speeches at many universities, including Indiana University, Purdue and Ball State, and experience tells Jensen that what we don’t know might be made up for by what we do.


“I’m not saying (better universities mean better sex); I can’t know that,” says Jensen. “But would it surprise me if we did a survey study and it was? Absolutely not.”


Part of this opinion is based on a sociological theory he has read about, called the “Matthew effect.” Based on the biblical verse Matthew 25:29, it is the sociological truism that says “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer,” or that similarities attract.


“I think there is a possibility that being at an institution that is more educated across the board might affect how well-educated the students are,” says Jensen. “And, honestly, there might be a lot of people who disagree with this, but because of what I do for a living, I would say knowledge about sex is absolutely going to improve your sex life and your relationships.”


Furthermore, Jensen said better universities could also have better sexual education and sexual health resources which could in turn have a positive effect on students’ sex lives.


Maxwell Foreman, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University, isn’t completely convinced of the preceding point, though. IU is the home of the nationally renowned Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction; however, he says many of his peers “haven’t even heard of the Kinsey” but have good sex lives anyway, signaling to him that facilities have nothing to do with sex quality on a college campus.


“Well, I’m only one person, but it isn’t like students are (short on dating opportunities) here. Regardless of if you are part of the Greek scene, the bar scene, or even in the dorms, if you are looking to get laid and willing to put in some effort, class should be more difficult,” said Foreman, interjecting some humor.


According to Jensen, though, the quality of the university is only part of what determines a college student’s sexual satisfaction. Other factors, such as the size of the university, a variety of demographics and whether or not a university is residential or non-residential all matter when it comes to students finding and having the kind of sex that makes them happiest.


Alex Overway, a senior in the College of Engineering at Purdue, said he definitely could see how these factors could shape students’ experiences.


“I feel like the average sex life at Purdue is probably representative of most large colleges just because there’s such a diverse group of people that are all bound to have varying degrees of sexual interest and experiences,” said Overway. “Smaller schools might have more people with similar backgrounds, which could limit both variety of opinions and opportunities for exploration.”


And exploration is what Jensen says makes college sex what it is; it’s good, it’s exciting and it’s fun because, for many students, it’s their first time to experiment and explore without any parental influence.


“It’s why I love (teaching) this particular demographic,” he said. “The overwhelming majority – and I’m talking about (those inside) the bell curve – of college-aged students that are specifically at a residential university in the United States … are Americans who are on their own for the first time (and figuring out who they want to be).”


Good sex, Foreman agreed, is a highly variable thing based on this experience.


“I’ve visited friends at small schools like IUPUI and (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) where the atmosphere wasn’t the same, but that doesn’t mean people weren’t (having sex),” says Foreman. “I have friends at Wabash College (an all-male school) that have zero complaints in that department, so it just seems to be a university-by-university thing, with the size or guy-to-girl ratio not seeming to be that big of a factor.


“I’d really bank on everyone just being horny college kids, and no one should have any sort of problem with it,” laughed Foreman.

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