Men at Brigham Young University (BYU) have come under scrutiny by their administration for masturbating in dormitory bathrooms. This has become such a problem that BYU housing has decided to implement time entry stamp devices in University bathrooms. A letter to BYU students was posted in male residence halls stating:
“Due to recent reports of masturbation occurring in this hall, the University [BYU] has been forced to take action. Starting today, the university will begin time-stamping entry and exit times into the bathroom. If you are suspected of masturbating on BYU property, you will be required to attend a Honor Code Disciplinary Council. It is strictly against housing agreement to be involved in such an activity and your housing contract will be in jeopardy if you continue. Pornography is a severe addiction, but can be alleviated. Turn to your Bishop and the Savior who can help guide you through the healing process.”
Let us start by asking, how long does the BYU administration think it takes to use the restroom? It is understood masturbation is frowned upon in many religions outside of Mormonism, but these time stamp devices are a complete violation of privacy rights.
No person should be scolded for how much time they spend in the bathroom. And there is no direct amount of time correlated with masturbation. So, how is BYU going to use these timestamps as evidence?
We would like to reiterate we are not arguing against the values of the religion, but simply shining light on how this is an invasion of one’s personal time.
The BYU letter concerning bathroom timestamps goes beyond ensuring students hold to their religious morals. It skews its place as a higher learning environment by becoming invasive to ones deeply personal life.
We have always viewed higher education environments as a place for growth, a place to be around new and different perspectives rather than being trapped in one state of mind.
BYU in this way is stifling their students and their right to live whatever lifestyle they wish to, practicing such things as masturbation or not.
In contrast to BYU, schools like Arizona State University (ASU) and Ivy League Princeton University have recently encouraged open forums regarding sex on their campuses.
Of course we understand that these schools are not religiously affiliated, but that does not mean that what they teach becomes immediately irrelevant or inapplicable to schools like BYU.
We are not suggesting that BYU start holding progressive masturbation workshops entitled “Go F**k Yourself,” like that held at ASU this past February. And we are not suggesting that BYU follow Pacific University in holding forums about sexual pleasure on Valentine’s Day, or host their own Vagina Monologues. Instead, simply be honest, mature and promote safe sexual practices, instead of pretending as if masturbation is an act uncommon amongst college students.
Once an individual reached college age, traditionally somewhere between 18 to 22, a person should not have only learned healthy sexual discourse, but also be able to discuss or practice this as they please.
Understanding that BYU and their religious connections play a role in the education of their students is one thing. Allowing it to take precedent over the wellbeing, sexual competency and mental health of their students is inexcusable.
This is what this housing notification implies, whether intentionally or not.
This housing notification inarguably poses a multitude of consequences to students, all of which are negative.
It could scare students away from participating in masturbation and learning how to provide themselves with sexual pleasure. It could make them turn on their own classmates and report them to administration to protect themselves or encourage a witch hunt. Or it could oppress and ostracize their desires to the point of deep insecurity and alienation.
Instead of adding bathroom timestamps to their already invasive honor code, BYU needs to take a step back and truly contemplate how they are impacting their students, especially their understanding of sex, intimacy and healthy sexuality.