To the overwhelming commendation of the Loomis Chaffee student body, faculty embraced sizable change on Monday by voting to amend Rule 5 of the Student Handbook. The rule, which previously deemed the engagement of “sexual intercourse and oral sex” a Level 2 violation for all students, has been downsized to a Level 1 violation supplemented by mandatory counseling. The change takes effect in the upcoming academic school year.
In order to persuade voting faculty members, the proposal pointed toward peer schools’ more lenient policies towards sex, as well as the relatively minor severity and egregiousness of sexual intercourse in comparison with other major school violations. The proposal also noted that Loomis already teaches students about sexual relationships extensively, and having such a strict disciplinary policy contradicts the school’s education and awareness around the topic.
The proposal argues that through “forums such as the Fitness and Wellness course, convocations, Freshman Seminars, the healthy relationship and consent workshops, and both formal and informal conversations between students and teachers, students have been taught that engaging in sexual activity is a natural behavior that needs to be handled in a responsible manner.”
The Loomis Chaffee Student Council passed the long sought -aft er proposal thanks to the efforts of President Sam Roy ’16, Rules Committee member Izzy Hanson ’16, and council members Taseen Anwar ’17, Sasha Mesmain ’16, Henry Winchester ’17 and Deuce Ford ’18.
Although the proposal, which was introduced to the faculty by the council on April 18, was originally intended to apply exclusively to upperclassmen, the faculty made final changes to the rule before passing it on May 2 to encompass all students within the rules new disciplinary confines, not just upperclassmen.
The major rule change has been met with emphatic approval by the student body and faculty alike. Postgraduate Oliver Fox noted, “Just about everyone seems to agree with the rule change – it just reflects the culture here.” Senior Wilson Kaplan made a point about how the amendment might improve the nature of the sexual culture on campus, heeding that “Lowering the [disciplinary] consequences of having sex provides a safer space for students who feel uncomfortable about a sexual event and want to talk to someone.”
Some students have expressed mixed feelings about the disciplinary alteration, despite its inordinate amount of support. Senior Abbie Klein, who agrees that sex shouldn’t be punishable as gravely as a Level 2, remains wary about the prospect of students taking advantage of the new, less severe punishment. Others, like Student Council member and sophomore Bill Pierone, stood in opposition of the proposal – he refused to publicly comment on the issue.
The faculty’s sentiments in regards to the rule change have mostly mirrored that of the students. The Dean’s Office found the proposal compelling and lucid, and said they are content with the way the process saw the proposition through to fruition. Student Council faculty advisors Mr. Eric LaForest and Ms. Rachel Engelke said that they “hope this rule change will encourage Student Council members to take the initiative to broaden the conversation about healthy sexuality and relationships across campus. The faculty demonstrated large support for this rule change, which is a testament to how impressed they were with the articulate, well-reasoned, and well-researched case made by the leaders of this initiative.”