This week, DataMatch, an online, survey-based matchmaking service created by students at Harvard College has taken the campus by storm. Nearly half of the on-campus population (42.6 percent) has created DataMatch profiles as of Thursday evening, the highest proportion among all 40 participating institutions. This overwhelming response indicates a widespread desire for intimacy among Bowdoin students.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner. It’s cold, it’s rainy, it’s snowy, it’s nearly impossible to go to class without dodging a sheet of ice, and we’re all looking for companionship in this bleak period. Students deserve to explore romantic and sexual connections in a safe and consensual manner. So, go get ‘em—just be careful. We’re lucky enough to live in a campus community where all students have access to free and confidential STI testing at Health Services. Communicate openly with your partners about your sexual health and testing history—any feelings of awkwardness in the short-term are well-worth avoiding a health scare in the long-run.
Being proactive about preserving your own health—as well as that of your partner(s)—is a must. It is vital that we foster a campus culture that prioritizes safety, accountability and destigmatization.
And, while Bowdoin’s hook-up culture can seem all-consuming at times, it is useful to keep in mind that intimacy does not always follow the standard script of sexual or romantic encounters popularly understood—Valentine’s Day can also be a time to introspect, to celebrate friends and continue loving yourself. But, if you do choose to be sexually active, inside or outside of Bowdoin’s community, getting a routine STI test should be a critical part of your self-care routine.
As of 2015, national data suggests that STI testing rare has reached a record low among college students. A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh shows that stigmas around STI testing have prevented college students from protecting themselves and others from treatable diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
This year, members of the Bowdoin community have followed through on their pledge to protect each other by undergoing twice-weekly tests for COVID-19. Moving forward, we should view routine STI testing as a similar courtesy. We owe each other this kind of compassion on every front.
This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of Ari Bersch, Aura Carlson, Chayma Charifi, Jane Godiner, Emma Kilbride, Diego Lasarte, Cole van Miltenburg, Emma Sorkin and Tianyi Xu.