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Back to School, Back to Sex 

Sex on campus is more casual than ever, say many college students - and more alienating and dangerous, too

College is the best four years of your life, right? That's what they say, anyway -- whoever "they" are. And for good reason: College, any college, is fornication central.

And why shouldn't it be? Take hordes of horny, inexperienced kids, thrust them onto some campus far removed from their parents, strip away all responsibility -- what do you think is going to go down? I'll tell you! Hordes of horny, inexperienced freshmen -- on one another.

It isn't just a time for young adults to expand their intellects, to break free from the protective shell of youth. It's a time for freedom and self-expression. Experts say one way college students express this newfound freedom is through sex.

"College is the time when we find out who we are, so there's a lot of experimentation going on," says Dr. Patti Britton, a clinical sexologist and ivillage.com's "sex coach." "We find out who we are as a person, but probably most significantly, [we] find out who we are as a sexual being. Nowadays, though, these kids are coming into college with a lot more sexual experience than they did."

Yes, Virginia, sex is a naughty little cocktail that college students have always shared. But now more than ever, it seems a majority of college students are raging alcoholics, and the campus grounds are the old watering hole. Sex is easier than ever, so it seems, but if the testimony of students is accurate, it also seems to have lost some of its luster, mystery and joy.

Increasingly, sex is becoming less and less an intimate act experienced between two people who "like each other, a lot." Instead, it's more of a recreational activity, engaged in freely by two -- sometimes more -- people as a way to remedy chronic boredom or alleviate the tensions that come with college life. And more often than not, that sex is being had by naive, uninhibited, freedom-abusing freshmen, under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, without condoms or any other form of protection.

"It's not as precious as it used to be," says Cynthia,* a sophomore who last year slept with five of her fellow students. "It's more of a social thing than an emotional thing, and I think that's bad, really."

"Some students see it as part of making friends and being part of the college life, instead of being like an emotional attachment to somebody," says Diane, who is entering her senior year. "It's more like a way to fit in and make friends and stuff."

Surprised? You shouldn't be. After all, this is a country where one in every five college students loses their virginity at or before age 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's scary because it is the way it is," says Joanne, a junior with 10 notches on her belt since attending college. "Sex doesn't mean anything to anyone. It's not a special thing like it was back in the day of our parents. They used to wait around forever for it, and you finally got it, and it was like WHEEEEE. Sex is like nothing anymore. It's nothing. It comes right after a kiss. And that's what's scary."

"It's completely casual," says Heather, a junior. "You hang out, you hook up, and it's like, "See you around.'"

The hand job has replaced the handshake and the blow job has supplanted the peck on the cheek as the most common forms of exploratory male and female contact. No more windy walks, moonlit picnics on the beach or handwritten letters scrawled with sweet nothings slipped under dorm room doors -- no more romance, essentially.

"It's part of hooking up. Now, there's hooking-up hooking up, and then there's getting-freak-nasty hooking up." Heather laughs. "It's expected now. It's seen more as a noncommittal type of activity."

Nailing down hard statistics on the actual number of students "getting any" is as tough as tracking down monogamous, long-term relationships on campus. On average, however, it's believed that about 83 percent of college students are getting laid on a regular basis. According to the most recent wide-scale survey of college students published by the CDC, which tracks and reports on health-related issues, 79.5 percent of college students aren't virgins, by the truest form of the definition. Of those, only 37.7 percent used a condom during their last sexual encounter.

Information based on sex-survey responses, however, is notoriously problematic. Experts say survey data on sex are unreliable because respondents are more likely to lie to make themselves look good. Tyler, a junior, is living proof of sexual embellishment -- trust me on this.

"How easy is it to get laid? As easy as one, two, three, man," he says matter-of-factly. "If you want it, you can get it. Just go to the bars where all the freshman chicks hang out, and it's cake, bro. These girls wanna fit in, so they give that shit up quick. You just gotta know the right things to say."

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