Office of Wellness

California State University at Poco

To: The Poco Community

From: Chelsea Rabinowitz-Hakamoto, Wellness Coordinator

Re: Dating

As spring approaches and with it, in all likelihood, an increase in dating activity, the Office of Wellness has been asked by the President to coordinate all University services pertaining to such activity. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to pick up their Dating Information Kits at the reception desk of the Wellness Center. This memo is intended to clarify a few matters about which questions have been raised.

All persons in the community should by now be aware of the permissible parameters of dating relationships. Any dating that transgresses these parameters constitutes sexual harassment, since discrepancies in power between dating partners have been deemed prima facie evidence of harassment in both Federal and California court cases. There are three dating pools within the community”faculty, staff, and students. Cross-pool dating, while not necessarily impermissible, is advised against, because in many cases the precise balance of power between partners may be difficult to establish. (For example, is an associate professor or an associate provost in the greater power role, a senior undergraduate or a maintenance supervisor?)

Faculty may only date within ranks, and not across the tenure/nontenure line. Staff should consult the Office of Personnel for their own and their potential dating partner’s job rankings. There are in all eighty-three rankings; dating partners are advised to stay within a ten-point range. Undergraduates, having no discernible power, may freely date regardless of their year in college, but dating between undergraduates and graduate students, many of whom are teaching assistants empowered to give grades, is advised against.

Your Dating Information Kit contains all the necessary Pre-Date Consent Forms. The blue forms are for heterosexual partners, the pink for gay men, the purple for lesbians. Cross-orientation partners are, of course, free to utilize two or all three colors. Each of the forms lists sexual activities in an ascending intensity scale. Partners are advised to check all the activities consented to before initiation of the date, bring the form or forms to the Office of Wellness reception desk, and sign the form/forms in the presence of a Wellness officer, who will enter the time of signing and retain the form/forms.

The Dating Information Kit further contains the safe-sex condom collection and spermicidal jelly recommended by the University Health Service, plastic envelopes to allow easy inspection of the most recent test results for HIV and drug-free urine as required by University regulations, as well as the (voluntary) nonsmoking pledge. Dating partners have the right to inspect these documents at any stage of the dating process.

Any dating partner who believes that she/he/hem* has become a victim of sexual harassment, date rape, or attempted date rape is advised to report immediately to the Campus Police and/or the Rape Crisis Center. The Office of Legal Counsel has a full-time attorney assigned to all cases of actual or potential litigation pertaining to sexual victimization; the services of this attorney are also available to all members of the community.

The Office of the Provost has issued the following clarification regarding dating policy: Students are, of course, asked at the beginning of each academic year to pledge nondiscriminatory behavior toward all members of the University community regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, looks, condition of physical or mental handicap, and veteran status. The Provost has ruled that portions of this pledge do not apply to dating activity. Specifically, dating partners may discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, age, and condition of physical or mental handicap. The Provost emphasizes, however, that dating partners continue to be bound by the pledge regarding race, ethnicity, looks, and veteran status. This clarification, although criticized by the African American Student Association, has been warmly welcomed by the Support Group of Aesthetically Challenged Persons. In reply to an inquiry by the latter organization, the Provost said that hems ruling definitely includes obesity under the category of looks against which dating partners may not discriminate.

In conclusion, let me quote the venerable and much-beloved student anthem: “ Gaudeamus igitur, juvenes dum sumus ”: “Let us be joyful, while yet we are young” (or, if chronologically challenged, young in spirit). The Office of Wellness wishes all members of the community a joyful, safe, and politically sensitive spring!

*This memo follows the Inclusive Language Code adopted last semester by the Diversity Committee of the English Department and recommended for University-wide use by the President. The pronouns hem/hems/hemum (to replace he/his/him and she/her when appropriate) are for the use of individuals who opt out of the binary gender lexicon of traditional English. The chairperson of the Diversity Committee, Professor Korka, has promised hems assistance to any organization on campus requesting it. The Office of Wellness has already asked hemum to monitor all communications emanative from it for compliance with the aforementioned Code.

Peter L. Berger, a member of the Editorial Board of First Things , is Director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University.

Articles by Peter L. Berger

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