Campus Life

A field guide to hooking up at MIT

Dear Freshmen,

Welcome to college! I hope you’re all settled into you tiny shared rooms and enjoying freedom for the first time. I bet you’re excited about being able to bring someone home after a party to keep you warm in your twin extra-long without worrying about Mom and Dad next door... which is why I’m here. Froshlings, let this seasoned senior offer you some tips on hooking up in college because, seriously, hooking up in high school is nothing like sexing it up at MIT.

This will probably be your first time sharing a room with complete strangers. I suggest you sit down with your roommates and talk about what your rules for “private time” will be — the last thing you want is to get sexiled without your knowledge. If you know you will be having a guest over, tell the roomies as far in advance as possible. If you’re dragging someone home from a party, text them. Put some sort of sign on the door (a sock?) to let them know if they come home. Try to be considerate of the fact that you’re sharing a space with people whose views on sex might be different from yours. Establish boundaries and respect them — in simple terms, don’t be an asshole. (If problems arise, talk to a GRT. They are used to hearing complaints of this sort, and could be a great resource.)

Now, how do you choose who to bring home? Well, that’s mostly up to you, but let me offer a few examples of Bad Decisions. Don’t sleep with your TA until the semester is over. No dormcest unless you’re ready to face possible awkwardness daily. Don’t sleep with someone your roommate slept with, because some people are possessive over former flames. Don’t sleep with anybody if you’re wasted. In general, proceed with caution: You’ll be in a new environment where you don’t know anybody or the reputation preceding them.

As for the actual getting down to business, a few things: Make sure you’re using protection. There is really no excuse; getting birth control at Medical is easy and cheap, and you can get free condoms from any MedLink or GRT. Keep the noise to a minimum or at least try to drown it out with music. Make sure to lock the door, lest you want someone to walk in on you mid-hump. Wash your sheets often — we can smell the sex on them. Some of us would rather not have sex than to do it on the top bunk, so de-bunk if space allows. And please — this bears repeating — please, don’t get it on while your roommates are in.

The morning after can be as tricky as the night before — should you leave at the crack o’ dawn or linger for a bit? Well, easy peasy: The most gracious of hosts would let you spend the night and make the morning a bit easier by offering coffee and a shower. The most gracious of guests would try to bother the host as least as possible and leave early unless prompted to stay. Leaving early will make the Walk of Shame easier on you. Take it from me: wearing last night’s sequined dress and runny makeup doesn’t feel as gross when nobody is out to see you.

This being college, of course you’re going to make a questionable decision and inevitably suffer through awkward moments as a result of a hookup. Don’t ask me why, but people here love to ignore each other and pretend they never slept together. Take the high road and say hi if you see each other — you don’t need to be friends; this is about politeness. When you’re bumping elbows with a former flame at a bar, it’ll be far easier to say hi than to stand the awkwardness.

Hooking up in college means you’ll come across a lot of situations you might not know how to handle, so if there are any topics I didn’t cover here, just exercise common sense or ask an upperclassman — most of us have been there before and can give good advice. College is prime time to have new experiences and do things differently, so take advantage of the next four years. And if you have a bad experience, take comfort in the fact that there are 4,000 undergrads and the chances of you running into someone you wish you hadn’t bedded are quite slim.



M is a senior in Course 10. She can be contacted at