Last spring, Dr. Wendy Steinberg, associate professor of Psychology, conducted a Sexual Behavior survey among Eastern students because she suspected that the nationwide statistics for the sexual behavior of college aged-students was higher than that of the students at Eastern.
After she distributed the survey to all undergraduate students, 483 completed surveys were returned.
Just under half of Eastern’s student body has engaged or is currently engaging in sexual behavior. (28 percent of the population have engaged in intercourse and 45 percent have engaged in oral sex). Eastern’s sexual activity is significantly lower than the national statistic.
“I am happy and pleased that the rates are as low as they are,” Steinberg said. “However, speaking from a perspective of age and faith, I am saddened by the amount of sexual activity nationwide. It’s very harmful.”
She noted that the survey’s conclusions confirm a significant nationwide increase in the practice of oral sex among young adults and a closing gender gap in rates of experience.
According to a recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly 70 percent of 18-19 year olds in the US have engaged in oral sex. Relatively equal numbers of males and females are participating.
At Eastern, 98 percent of students surveyed claim to be born-again Christians.
Junior Joe Zummo contends that sexual experience is no indication of one’s faith. “I think [the students with sexual experience] are still born again. Jesus still loves them. We all make mistakes,” he said.
Dr. Randall Colton, professor of philosophy, noted that a deep failure to connect behavior and faith regarding sex is occurring.
“The level of EU students engaging in sexual behavior is lower than the national average. This strikes me as a good thing. But on a campus that claims to be indwelled by the spirit of God, the level concerns me,” he said.
Colton, who is currently offering a philosophy course entitled Christian Sexual Ethics, said that he believes that one of the areas current sex education lacks is in the failure to portray a positive picture of sexuality.
“We’re making [young people] aware of boundaries, but we’re not giving them the positive picture,” he said.
Colton added that he hopes to lead students to clarity regarding sexuality and morality in his course. “It’s a list of rules that we’re bound to by obedience, not rules that we take up out of joy. We’re not making the connection,” he added.
Steinberg hopes to convey a similar message to her students. She stressed that God gave people a protective prescription for sex, one that requires a choice of love that’s not based on transient feelings.
“I’ve reached the stage where I can see the importance of guidelines in hindsight. I wish I could spare my students the pain based on their own poor choices,” she said. “Sex will not always seem as important as it does right now.”
Both Colton and Steinberg pointed to the data to indicate that there is not a complete disconnect between faith and sexual experience among students. 44 percent of students are dissatisfied with their past level of sexual experience. Were this statistic lower, it would indicate that students engage in sex and enjoy it free of moral constraint, Colton said. 40 percent of students answered that they wish they hadn’t done what they’ve already done.
Steinberg described the dissatisfaction and regret among students as “heartbreaking.”
“I’m really not surprised at how high the sex statistic is or at the dissatisfaction,” said sophomore Jesse Aseltine.
“When I think of a Christian community, I’d expect that behavior is not different from the secular world, but I’d definitely expect remorse.”
“It’s not the consequences of sex that are important, but the attitudes of the heart,” Steinberg said. “We need to discuss the behavior that is seen through the data, not necessarily the report’s statistics.”
Sex Survey Results
Demographics (483 total respondents)
98% claim to be born again 76% female24% male98% are heterosexual48% are not currently seeing/dating anyone36% are in an exclusive relationship
Campus-Based Sexual Activity
% Saying It Happens in EU Housing
|Partner Open-Door Visit in Room||99||99||99|
|Partner Closed-Door Visit in Room||59||59||59|
|Intimate Sexual Activity in Room||58||60||58|
|Partner Stays Overnight Occasionally||55||57||54|
|Partner Permanently Cohabits in Room||2||4||2|
|Shared/Invited Viewing of Pornography||23||39||18||Phone Sex in Room||14||13||14|
|Computer Cybersex in Room||16||18||16|
|Naked Party in Room||2||3||2|
|Monica Party in Room||<1||<1||<1|
|Group Sex in Room||1||2||1|