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The Road To College: Sex, Truth and the Internet

As you may be aware because her work has gone viral on the Internet and since been covered by The New York Times, a recent Duke University graduate has earned herself first-ballot Hall of Shame credentials by creating a Powerpoint parody recounting, then rating, her sexcapades with 13 male students.
Her error, exacerbated by “friends” who forwarded her creation until it went worldwide, is but the latest example of smart young people doing genuinely stupid and hurtful stuff with technology. This female Blue Devil is not the first student to have a lot of sex in college, and certainly not the first to rate their companions based on various criteria. But she is the latest, and dumbest, when it comes to writing by name about real people, especially as it’s hard to argue she had a satirical point in mind.
Very different in purpose may have been the case when my own college newspaper published “Sleazing: Games Amherst Men Play” in November 1973, for the article is said to have been the tipping point in Amherst’s decision to admit women, perhaps in hopes of staving off further depravity of the type depicted by a writer who called himself Homunculus and named no student in particular.
Just as Jonathan Swift made his “Modest Proposal” of raising, killing, and eating babies to solve the population and starvation problems of 18th-century Ireland, so did this Lord Jeff apparently decide that detailing what students at his then all-male college would do to secure sexual gratification might just get the Trustees to realize it was time to enroll, rather than simply bed, women. Whether or not that was the writer’s intent, the article worked: three years later, I was in Amherst’s first co-ed class.
Sex in the post-pill/pre-AIDS 70s enabled some of us to make some pretty stupid mistakes. But, as far as I can recall, we didn’t write them down, or if some kept journals, they stayed locked away from prurient eyes. As crazy and unprotected as some of the sex surely was, it was at least a socially safer time to experiment, make mistakes, and perhaps learn—because, almost always, what happened on your campus stayed on your campus. The Walk of Shame did not travel the World Wide Web.
Whatever her explicit intention, the Duke student who compiled “The F*#% List” chose to take on, and either celebrate or denigrate, 13 high-profile student-athletes, publishing their pictures, often in their baseball or lacrosse uniforms, and their names. The closest I ever came to such a scalding was once, in senior year, when I was riding the bus to see a girl at a nearby, still single-sex, college. I heard one student behind me tell the other, “The Amherst quarterback is dating Sarah Jasper (name changed to protect the guilty.)” I wouldn’t have cared about such idle gossip, except for the fact that I was the Amherst quarterback, hadn’t gotten to the woman’s dorm yet, and hardly knew her.
That other people who didn’t know me well enough to recognize me cared about my social calendar stunned me, and that was the last time I rode that bus. I guess my gut reactions were that people had just invaded my privacy, and I didn’t like the feeling. How this Duke woman thought it would be a good idea to invade her own privacy, as well as that of her unwitting partners, is well beyond me.
Reading what she wrote makes me wonder if she in Witness Protection— hiding under an assumed name—or if she will get the book and movie deals already mentioned in the press. Cashing in on what she’s done could only make sense if the guys she bedded then graded got the money, pro-rated inversely by her ranking, with the poor slob on the bottom of this totem pole getting the biggest check.
Chris Teare, the College Counselor at Antilles School, graduated from Amherst 30 years ago.

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