The president of St. Petersburg, Florida’s Eckerd College has stirred up controversy by telling students that excessive drinking and casual sex are what leads to on-campus rapes.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Eckerd’s President Donald Eastman III urged students in a campus-wide email to “do your part” to prevent sexual assaults by drinking less and being less promiscuous.
“Virtue in the area of sexuality is its own reward, and has been held in high esteem in Western Culture for millennia because those who are virtuous are happier as well as healthier,” wrote Eastman in the loftily-worded email on Sunday. “No one’s culture or character or understanding is improved by casual sex, and the physical and psychological risks to both genders are profound.”
The 69-year-old Eastman went on to say that incidents of rape “are almost always preceded by consumption, often heavy consumption, of alcohol, often by everyone involved in them.”
He offered two “fairly simple suggestions” to the 1,800 students at Eckerd.
1. By limiting your own consumption of alcohol, and encouraging your friends to do the same. Socrates included wine at his Symposium, but he did not get drunk.
2. You can be thoughtful about the dramatic and often negative psychological effects that sexual activity without commitment can have. Virtue in the area of sexuality is its own reward, and has been held in high esteem in Western Culture for millennia because those who are virtuous are happier as well as healthier. No one’s culture or character or understanding is improved by casual sex, and the physical and psychological risks to both genders are profound.
“I wish each of you good luck in your final weeks of the semester, and a happy, healthy, virtuous 2015,” he concluded.
Students responded with incredulity at Eastman’s lack of tact with regards to a sensitive issue that is dividing campuses across the country.
“I’m pretty p—– off. That’s a pretty insensitive thing to say,” said Marlene Heyning, 19, to the Times. “Instead of teaching people that it’s wrong to have casual sex and drink alcohol, how about teaching them that having sex with someone who says ‘no’ is not okay?”
“I don’t think casual sex is in any way related to sexual assault,” said sophomore Katie Wheeler, 18, “the problem is people breaking boundaries and not learning respect from a young age.”
Senior Adrien Krajnik, 22, said that Eastman’s letter may have been well-intentioned, but the tone was off-putting.
“However, it’s also very clear he doesn’t understand the problem, nor does he understand his students very well, which is a little scary,” said Krajnik, adding that “the word ‘disgust’ has been thrown around.”
Eastman said that many students have responded positively to his email, but that “(t)he ones that are unhappy are really unhappy.”
These students, he said, say “don’t tell us this is the fault of the victim, don’t blame sexual assault on alcohol, don’t blame sexual assault on casual sex.”
“But so far,” he complained, “they haven’t told me what you really ought to blame it on.”
[Hat-tip to Salon.com]