Cerina De Souza
Being a first year college student can be exciting, but leaving the comforts of home for a place of unlimited freedom can be the true testament of how you live your life when you think no one is watching.
When you receive a letter in the mail congratulating you on your college acceptance, with numerous follow-up letters explaining housing options, financial aid conditions, and the endless possibilities of club and organization participation, it can be very exciting.
First year students should get involved with extracurricular activities though it is important to proceed with caution.
Going out and being young is wonderful, but unchecked, social activity and even gregariousness can lead to unwanted attention, particularly for freshmen who don’t have the lay of the land.
Toya Johnson-Moore, a junior criminology major, explained her personal struggles of being outgoing and social in high school and trying to maintain that same attitude in college. Her transition was not easy since many of the young men thought that her being friendly meant that she was “willing.”
“Being invited over never means just hanging out, it always means something more,” Johnson-Moore said.
She also stressed her concern that freshmen don’t know how to say “no” to those who are being sexually aggressive and overly persistent.
Remembering personal values and core beliefs are key to any decisions that are being made about oneself. Sexual relationships are not simply physical relationships, they can affect one’s emotional and psychological being and can even affect their future.
Cynthia Denne, director of student health services, stressed that whether one is in a long-term relationship or a one-night encounter, it is important to protect oneself.
The first step is to talk openly and honestly about each other’s sexual history. Denne said to think of yourself and assume that the partner could not be telling the truth. Although you are being intimate with only one person, you are truly sleeping with all of his or her past partners.
“You have to take the role to protect yourself,” Denne said. “You are naïve to think you are the only one… you need to be a realist to protect yourself completely.”
In a study conducted by Lauren E. Reynolds of the department of psychology at Loyola University New Orleans, 75 percent to 80 percent of college students are sexually active and less than 20 percent of college students use protection.
Realistically, using only birth control does not solve all of ones’ problems. Birth control is birth control, and it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
“Many people think they are not exposed (to STDs) because they don’t have symptoms,” Denne said.
Studies have found that it can take up to 10 years for symptoms to develop. Just imagine in 10 years how many people one person could have come into sexual contact with.
Some STDs can cause tremendous pain and even cause so much damage that it could interfere with the reproductive organs.
Richard Rogers, associate professor of psychology, explained that when the counseling center is used because of sexual issues, many are seeking guidance and finding the balance between the values they were brought up with and how their current behavior is reflecting it.
If students are partaking in sexual activities, the counseling center is there to help them decide if they want to be involved sexually or if they are feeling pressured from their partner.
“Not giving consent can be damaging to psychological well-being,” Rogers said.
For more information or non-judgmental services, call the Student Health Center at (909) 593-3511, Ext. 4254, or if you need a safe place to talk and explore who you truly are, call Counseling Center at (909) 593-3511, Ext. 4831. Both services are free for traditional undergraduates.
Cerina De Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.