Photo Illustration: In a survey of 324 UVM students conducted by the Cynic, 62% said their roommate has requested that they leave their room for the sake of privacy to engage in a sexual act. (Jamie Kaplan)
Photo Illustration: In a survey of 324 UVM students conducted by the Cynic, 62% said their roommate has requested that they leave their room for the sake of privacy to engage in a sexual act.

Jamie Kaplan

Sexiling: The unspoken college tradition

December 7, 2022

A sock on the doorknob, a forewarning text, a locked door. What do these signals all have in common? Your roommate needs the room.

The Urban Dictionary defines sexiling as when college age students are exiled from their dorm or apartment so one of their roommates can engage in sexual activity. 

A Nov. 9, 2017 article by the Stanford Daily reports that most incoming college first-years are experiencing living away from adult supervision for the first time. On top of that, they’re living with another person their age, both individuals experiencing newfound sexual freedom. 

“I think every roommate should discuss sexiling,” first-year Nate Schoenbrodt said. “I’ve known my roommate for a couple months and we discussed it. We kind of just agreed that, if we needed to, we could text each other. But we both had a pretty common belief that if the other person needed the room, it was okay.”

In a survey of 324 UVM students conducted by the Cynic, 62% said they have been asked to leave their room by their roommate so the roommate could engage in a sexual act. Of these students, 31% said they were sexiled up to five times this semester.

Photo Illustration: A sock on the doorknob, a traditional way of sexiling a roommate. (Ava Roos)

“For us it never really caused many problems,” first-year Gustavo Botero said. “I’m sure for other people who aren’t as close, I feel like it could definitely introduce some conflicts.”

These conflicts often put students in awkward situations that resident advisors are expected to mediate, said Resident Advisor Enrique De La Rosa, a junior.

“I had an incident recently,” De La Rosa said. “A [resident] was upset and wanted to talk to me about their roommate always bringing their boyfriend over. If it’s a continuing issue, we are told to look at the roommate agreement and then we’d kind of go from there.”

To avoid these conflicts, students are urged to fill out a roommate agreement at the beginning of the year, De La Rosa said. The agreement is a set of questions regarding different rules for the room that both roommates have to agree on.

“I feel like there’s a lot of things that weren’t really addressed that I don’t think either of us were prepared for,” Botero said.

With two individuals sharing a room, disagreements are inevitable. Approximately 25% of students surveyed said they have fought with their roommate over a sexiling issue. Approximately 30% said they felt negatively about their roommate sexiling them.

Photo Illustration: Roommates may agree to text each other when one needs the room. (Ava Roos)

“I’ve heard from some of my friends about their roommates being a lot less respectful about stuff like that,” sophomore Mackenzie Montesi said. “I’ve heard stories of my friends being asked to leave the room at three in the morning and having to stay at a friend’s room.”

Even when roommates are respectful, boundaries still must be set about at what point a guest’s stay becomes “too long,” first-year Jenna Torrellas said.

“If a guy stays too long, the other roommate will get upset because they want to go to bed,” Torrellas said. “We kind of agreed that anything over an hour and a half is too long.”

When issues arise, many speculate over what the University’s role should be, or if it should even have a role at all, Botero said.

“I think in situations where people are random roommates, the University should emphasize sexiling [in the roommate agreement] but I think when people select their own roommates, then that’s just between them,” he said.

Of the 200 students surveyed who had experienced sexiling, 54% said they were happy to help out their roommate by leaving the room.

“We would never walk in and be surprised,” Montesi said. “We always ask beforehand, and for me, it was always ‘yes,’ and she would do the same thing for me. I think it’s ultimately a mutual respect.”

Whatever your personal stance on sex may be, sex in college is an inevitable truth of American culture, Botero said.

“People are in college, they’re sexually active. They want to have fun,” Schoenbrodt said. “There’s nothing wrong with having sex at all, it’s just a part of the process. I think as long as you’re respectful about it, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

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