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Students, faculty respond to sex survey with both disappointment and optimism

The fact that almost half of all Eastern students have been sexually active, as revealed by Wendy Steinberg’s sex survey results, has drawn a mix of reactions from faculty and students.

“I’m encouraged because the statistics of Eastern are lower than that of the public,” professor emeritus Tony Campolo said. “I’m discouraged because I hoped it would be better than it is.”

Some students said the numbers, high or not, are not entirely trustworthy.

“There was no way to figure out who was taking it, to know how many people took it, how many responded, how many responded accurately,” sophomore Jonathan Malone said.

Senior Janine Wineberg agreed.

“I don’t know if it’s credible. I know a lot of students made up answers,” she said. “I don’t think students took it seriously.”

However, some faculty and students are taking the survey, and what it indicates, seriously.

Campolo said the results indicate that Eastern students have been affected to a degree by the culture around them, but that “we are not as infected by the dominant culture.”

Malone agreed that Christians often are influenced by the same things that influence secular society.

“The causes aren’t different from what causes it in society,” he said. “We have sex drives. The media shows people how they should conduct themselves sexually.”

For some, students’ sexual activity reveals an inability to handle this cultural influence.

“Young people don’t have the resources to resist a culture that says something is wrong with you if you haven’t lost your virginity by 18,” philosophy professor Phil Cary said.

Psychology professor Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen said that ignorance may play a part.

“Sex is a designer addiction,” she said. “Just like smoking [it] has been glamorized in the media. It took decades to find out it was damaging. The sex of our culture is the same way.”

Cary holds that the church is at least partially responsible for this inability.

“Our churches do a lousy job preparing young people to live in a sex-soaked culture,” he said. “Moral competence takes practice, which the old folks haven’t given the younger.”

Junior Jada Ingalls believes the problem lies within students.

“The truth is, Christians have as much sin as other people,” she said.

Van Leeuwen said she does not condemn students who engage in sexual activity.

“I don’t want to minimize the culture, students’ responsibilities or the possibility of redemption,” she said.

However, she said part of the solution must begin with openness regarding sex.

“We do need places where students feel safe to talk about these things and get the healing many of them want,” she said.

Additional reporting by Ben Nelson, staff writer, and Sarah Vanacore, news editor.

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